General Motors Super Cruise: does it work? | CAR Magazine

General Motors Super Cruise: does it work?

Published: 24 October 2022 Updated: 24 October 2022

GM is so proud of its newly upgraded Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving assistance tech that it cheekily calls it ‘the industry’s first true hands-free driver assistance technology.’ Take that, Elon, and take that, Mercedes, which put its similar Drive Pilot Level 3 system on sale in Germany in May.

GM’s semi-autonomous tech works by combining data from the usual suite of cameras and lidar sensors with mapping. The car knows what’s ahead, thanks to GPS mapping, as well as knowing what’s immediately around it, thanks to the cameras and sensors. It coordinates sat-nav, cruise control and lane keeping systems to guide the vehicle.

The downside is that the system only works to full effect on the main highway network, and when there’s a good GPS signal; the upside is that on those roads it works really well.

Autonomous car levels explained

To operate, it’s similar to many other semi-autonomous driving systems. Press the button on the steering wheel, set your speed and the car will stay in lane and keep a steady distance from the vehicle in front. It can also change lanes by itself.

Crucially, though, Super Cruise doesn’t prompt you to retake control nearly as often as other systems. It only does so when it’s lost the lane markings or spots a hazard. During our test in Detroit, it coped easily with contraflows where lane markings weren’t as well defined as on the usual route.

Super Cruise is available on various Cadillacs including the huge Escalade SUV and the all-new, all-electric Lyriq, as well as the GMC Hummer EV but GM is trying to democratise the tech by also fitting it to the Fiesta-sized Chevrolet Bolt EV (the car we tested it on). It’s standard on some models, but with others it’s a $2500 option.

GM announced an expansion of the mapped roads in August, and delivered the additional data via a free over-the-air update for cars with the tech already installed.

Certain new GM electric cars look set to make their way to Europe, and Super Cruise could come with them. ‘The great part of the way we’re designing Super Cruise is to make it globally scalable,’ GM International boss Shilpan Amin tells CAR, ‘but we’ll have to do personalisation in every market, to make sure it’s completely safe.’

GM Super Cruise: how it works

Eye from the sky
Super Cruise relies on mapped data, not just what lies ahead. It’s just massively expanded the mapping area, which will be delivered by an OTA update.

Get schooled
The system responds swiftly to changes up ahead. During our test, Super Cruise flagged up school zones and roadworks way before roadside signs warned drivers.

Colour coded
Super Cruise-equipped cars come with a light bar on the steering wheel. Green means active; blue means driver is in control; flashing red means TAKE CONTROL NOW.

GM Super Cruise: does it work?

Yes. While it’s limited to major routes, having that map data means smooth driving. It’s one of the few we’ve tried that’s not been caught out by roadworks or other hazards.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches