2019 Cadillac CT6 Platinum: Look Ma, No Hands!

Published: Monday, October 28, 2019 | 7:50 PM

2019 Cadillac CT6-VSelf-driving cars. It’s a mind-boggling idea. And yet it seems that’s where we’re headed. To help that transition and to ease some of the monotony of highway driving, Cadillac gives drivers the middle ground, Super Cruise.

Super Cruise is a driver assist program (notice I say “assist”, it is not meant for the driver to take a nap,) that literally steers the car when the driver is on the highway. It works in concert with Adaptive Cruise Control, which controls acceleration and braking of the car.

Basically, when you are on a long drive or daily commute, you set your Adaptive Cruise Control for a certain speed, while in cruise control the car will maintain that speed, adapting for slowing traffic or merging traffic. That in itself takes some getting used to. The car will literally slow down or break according to the flow of traffic. It really works, I love it. It takes a bit of the anxiety out of the drive. Once the cruise control is engaged, it’s time to use Super Cruise.

2019cadillacct6steeringIt’s operated with a button on the steering wheel. When it is engaged a symbol lights up and the top of the steering wheel turns green. It’s now ok to take your hands of the wheel. I’ll admit it was hard to relinquish control of the wheel, accelerator, and brake, but I did it. At first I let my hands hover over the wheel. When the first curve came up I was ready to grab it, but I didn’t need to. The Cadillac took the turn with ease. As the miles passed I began to relax and enjoy the ride.

How can the car do this, you ask? Cadillac has traveled miles of highways, mapping them. They also use services like, OnStar, precision LiDAR mapping, in-vehicle cameras, radar sensors, and GPS to guide the car along the road. There are road conditions that Super Cruise is not designed to drive in, some examples are: when lane markings are poor or visibility is limited, in a tunnel or construction zone, in bad weather conditions, on a non compatible highway separated from opposing traffic. Also Super Cruise is not intended to be used on freeway offramps.

2019cadillacct6mapEven though the car seemed to be driving itself, it still needs the driver to be alert. Using a proprietary head tracking software, the car makes sure the driver’s eyes are on the road and alerts them when more attention is needed. At first the steering wheel light bar flashes green, if that doesn’t get the driver’s attention, the light turns to a flashing red light and the seat will vibrate. Still not paying attention? The car then gives the driver a voice prompt and if the driver does not take over the steering, the car will slow and eventually stop in the lane it is traveling in. I never went further than the flashing green light.

I took the Cadillac to Ventura. On the drive I encountered some stop and go traffic, in those instances the Super Cruise disengaged. It drove smoothly and took the curves with ease.

I enjoyed my hands free driving experience (even if my passenger was a bit freaked out). I envisioned tooling up the 5 to San Francisco and arriving relaxed instead of stressed out with a little help from Super Cruise.