Cadillac Super Cruise Review: It’s Really Awesome

Last weekend I went on a trip from New York to eastern Connecticut to visit a friend for his birthday. I’ve been behind the wheel for about seven hours, over 300 miles, but I barely touched the wheel. That’s because the car I was driving was equipped with Cadillac’s Super Cruise.

Super Cruise is a nice brand name for Cadillac’s hands-free driver assistance system. When activated, it controls throttle, brakes and steering without any input from the driver. And unlike most driver assistance systems I’ve experienced, it’s actually something you’d want to use on a regular basis.

Brian Silvestro

The system has been around for years. First announced in 2014 and launched in 2017 on the CT6 sedan, it uses pre-scanned LIDAR map data, real-time GPS tracking, and a slew of car-mounted cameras and sensors to control. The first iteration worked well, but didn’t stand out as something you’d really want to use all the time. But this latest update, released in 2020, is a game-changer. Improvements to programming allow for more natural steering and pedal input, while automatic lane changes mean you don’t have to intervene when you encounter a slower car on the road. And activating it is as simple as pressing a button on the steering wheel while cruise control is active.

On the road, it’s uncanny how well Super Cruise works. It’s not just that it stays between the lines and doesn’t hit anything – that’s the bare minimum these days. It’s that the system just seems that way naturally. It feels like a real human driving the car, rather than a machine designed to mimic a driver. It accelerates and decelerates in traffic without being jerky, taking off through sharper turns so as not to throw occupants through the cabin. With Super Cruise, there is no constant fear of hindering or getting in the way of other drivers on the road. It fits perfectly into the environment in which it operates.

2022 cadillac escalade

Brian Silvestro

2022 cadillac escalade

Brian Silvestro

Most impressive is Super Cruise’s ability to analyze the road situation and change lanes accordingly. The system speeds up or slows down to automatically change lanes, just like a real driver would. Even if you activate Super Cruise while driving in the left lane, it will eventually find its way into the right lane to let faster traffic through. If a particularly strong gust of wind catches the car, it will steer corrective to bring itself back to the center of the lane. This was especially helpful as the car used for this test was a 2022 Escalade, a vehicle with the side profile of a building. Super Cruise even works when it rains.

Best of all, Super Cruise lacks the hesitation found in so many other driver assistance systems that make them unbearable to use. It’s refreshing not to have to worry about every move of Super Cruise – it just does what it’s supposed to do without being intrusive.

2022 Cadillac Escalade Diesel Super Cruise

Brian Silvestro

Of course you have to keep your eyes on the road. There are in-cab monitoring systems to make sure the driver never stops paying attention to what’s ahead. If you look at your phone or stare at your mirrors for too long, the bright green light stripe on the steering wheel will begin to blink to get your attention. If you keep your eyes off for too long, the system will turn off and the car will come to a safe stop. This is not a self-driving system— it’s important to make that distinction. On the plus side, Super Cruise can monitor your eyes through sunglasses so you don’t have to take them off for the system to work.

Super Cruise is, of course, far from perfect. It stopped working – after sufficient warning – several times on I-95, a road that had been pre-scanned by the system, stating “no road information”. There were also a few instances where it failed to activate because it thought the car was in an exit lane while simply driving in the rightmost lane. There were a few sections of road I wasn’t quite comfortable driving Super Cruise on, like tight construction zones (Cadillac says not to use it here) or Manhattan’s no-trailing, wild west FDR Drive. It’s not that it wouldn’t navigate these places, it’s just that the margins are too close to take the risk.

2022 Cadillac Escalade Diesel Super Cruise

Brian Silvestro

While the LIDAR data makes Super Cruise work just as well, it also limits the use of the system. Cadillac has mapped more than 200,000 miles of highway in North America, covering the vast majority of our nation’s much-used interstate system. The problem is that there are over 4 million miles of roads in the United States. So if you’re not driving on one of those pre-mapped roads, Super Cruise is useless to you.

There is also the price. Adding Super Cruise to your Cadillac will cost you $2500 upfront, along with an active subscription to keep it working. The first three years are included in the purchase price, but after that you have to pay $25 per month, according to Onstar’s website.

the 2022 escalade bounty provided a great test bed to see how much supercruise has grown

The 2022 Escalade Premium was a great test bed to see how much Super Cruise has grown.

Brian Silvestro

Super Cruise makes the monotonous boredom of highway driving just that little bit more relaxed. Of course you still have to pay attention. But you don’t constantly micro-move the car to stay in your lane or pass slower traffic. You just sit there chilling, listening to your favorite podcast. It’s not a huge improvement, it’s just something that makes the ins and outs of everyday life a little more bearable.

Whether that’s worth the entry-level price and the monthly premium is up to the driver. To me it only seems worth it if you drive on a Super Cruise mapped road every day. And even then, it should be a long drive to keep Super Cruise on for more than a few minutes at a time. Otherwise, it just becomes a gimmick to show off to friends and family a few times a year. But as the system gets better, it will start to appeal to more and more people. Seeing how far GM has come so far, we have high hopes for the future of Super Cruise.

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