The 2019 Cadillac CT6 comes with Super Cruise, the most sophisticated automated driving experience on the market so far. But its basic technology actually incorporates old stuff.
Fundamentally, the system combines adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist. Both have been around awhile.
In 1999, Mercedes-Benz introduced Distronic cruise control, generically called adaptive or radar cruise control, which automatically maintains a set distance from the car ahead. It was ground-breaking because it slowed the Mercedes S-Class to a stop and, when the car ahead started off, would move with it.
Other manufacturers soon adopted the system, more or less. On the less side, some would maintain a distance but would cut out at a low speed of 20 mph or so, forcing the driver to brake manually.
The lane-keeping assist came from a different locale and time. In 2004, Nissan’s luxury Infiniti brand introduced lane-departure warning, which called an audible when the driver wandered across a lane marker. In 2007, the upgraded system brought M-Line models back into the lane by pulsing the brakes on the opposite side of the lane marker being crossed.
In 2013, on the Infiniti Q50, the company introduced the world’s first active lane control, which uses cameras and sensors to steer the wheels and keep the vehicle centered in the lane.
At the national press introduction, this reviewer drove a Q50, engaged the lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control, and motored about 15 miles on a divided freeway with hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals.
Other manufacturers later incorporated similar systems. But for safety’s sake, they installed systems that required the drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel. If you removed your hands for about 15 seconds, lights and warning sounds activated.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise allows you to motor continuously with hands and feet off the wheel and pedals. Other current systems require the driver to keep hands on the steering wheel. But the Caddy system is unique.
Driving in Super Cruise, a steering-column camera monitors the driver’s face to make certain that he or she has eyes on the road. A prerequisite is that the driving must be done on freeways that Cadillac engineers have mapped and included in the software. On rural byways and city streets, the system does not engage, though the standard adaptive cruise control will work.
In a test run on Interstate Highway 95 between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, VA — one of the most congested freeways in the country — the Super Cruise control functioned as promised — with one exception.
If conditions are correct for Super Cruise, activate the adaptive cruise control and, when the system assents, engage the Super function.
It works, keeping you in the lane. A light bar at the top of the steering wheel glows green when everything is functioning. The driver can take over to change lanes but then the light turns blue, resuming green in the next lane.
As long as I looked ahead at traffic and monitored the inside and outside mirrors to maintain a 360-degree view around the Cadillac CT6, it motored along effortlessly. To test the system, I turned my head fully to the left and right, and within five seconds warnings went off.
But the exception came when I acted as if I were dozing off, eyes fluttering and head bowing down. Even after several tries, no warning came.
All of this tells us that autonomous driving still is in its infancy, though of the systems currently available, Cadillac’s Super Cruise is the state-of-the-art. Consumer Reports tested half a dozen systems and concluded that Caddy’s Super Cruise now is the best.
So also take a look at the rest of the 2019 Cadillac CT6 with Super Cruise. It is a consummate, full-size luxury sedan that owes no apology to any of the more expensive Europeans in performance, handling and comfort. Not that the CT6 is inexpensive. The base price is $87,790 and, as tested for this review, the bottom-line sticker came to $88,490.
It is powered by a 335-hp, twin-turbocharged V6 that delivers 284 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels through a silky-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission.
When you approach, the CT6 lights up, as if it’s happy to see you. Settle in, and you are treated to sumptuous coddling, including seats in front and back that will deliver selectable massages while you are motoring. It is as good as it gets if you can afford it.
- Model: 2019 Cadillac CT6 Platinum AWD four-door sedan.
- Engine: 3.6-liter V6, twin-turbochargers; 335 hp, 284 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: 10-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 17 feet 2 inches.
- EPA passenger/trunk volume: 113/16 cubic feet.
- Weight: 4,226 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 18/26/21 mpg.
- Base price, including destination charge: $87,790.
- Price as tested: $88,490.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.
Photos (c) Cadillac