General Motors’s Cadillac outscored Tesla in a new ranking of partially automated driving systems tested by Consumer Reports,
The highly influential nonprofit organization, which tests and rates a variety of consumer products from mattresses and baby food to vehicles, said it compared Cadillac’s Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot with similar systems from Nissan and Volvo Car.
It ranked the Cadillac system as top, followed by Tesla, Nissan and Volvo.
‘In Consumer Reports’ first-ever ranking of partially automated driving systems, Cadillac’s Super Cruise was top-rated because our testing shows it does the best job of balancing high-tech capabilities with ensuring that the car is operated safely and that the driver is paying attention,’ it concluded.
The results are a blow to Elon Musk’s Tesla, which has prided itself on its technical innovation.
Nissan’s ProPilot Assist was ranked third and Volvo’s Pilot Assist fourth.
Consumer Reports said it has been testing partially automated driving systems for several years but elected to conduct a formal study intended for publication, because ‘we are at a tipping point where they are now going mainstream,’ according to Jake Fisher, director of auto testing.
The organization said its tests, conducted on a private track and on public roads in Connecticut, were designed to measure the systems’ ability to automatically control steering and speed in certain situations, while helping drivers pay attention and regain manual control of the vehicle when required.
The systems typically use cameras, radar and other sensors, as well as mapping data, to monitor location and traffic conditions and help keep a vehicle centered in the lane at a safe distance behind other cars.
Each system has limitations.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise, for instance, only functions on divided highways that have been mapped by GM.
In contrast, Tesla’s Autopilot can be used even on small, curvy roads with poor lane markings, but ‘operates erratically in those situations,’ Consumer Reports said.
While they can help relieve driver stress and fatigue, Consumer Reports said, the partially automated systems are ‘not intended to be self-driving features.’
The organization tested Super Cruise on the Cadillac CT6; Autopilot on the Tesla Model 3, Model X and Model S; ProPilot Assist on the Nissan Leaf and Infiniti QX50, and Pilot Assist on the Volvo XC40 and XC60.
Consumer Reports said Cadillac’s Super Cruise did ‘the best job of balancing high-tech capabilities with ensuring the car is operated safely and the driver is paying attention.’
Tesla’s Autopilot was cited for its capability and ease of use, while Nissan’s ProPilot Assist did a better job than Autopilot or Volvo’s Pilot Assist in keeping drivers engaged.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise is not related to the GM Cruise self-driving vehicle being jointly developed by General Motors and Honda.
GM, Tesla and Volvo did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Nissan in a statement said its ProPilot Assist system is available on several models, including the Rogue, the Leaf and the Altima, ‘all of which are priced tens of thousands of dollars below the Cadillac and Tesla products mentioned in the Consumer Reports test.’
‘We have been evaluating these systems on a case-by-case basis for a few years, but we are at a tipping point where they are now going mainstream,’ said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.
‘Stacked up against each other, you can really see significant differences.
‘The best systems balance capability with safeguards—making driving easier and less stressful in the right situations. Without proper safeguards, overreliance on the system is too easy, which puts drivers at risk.’