2014 Kia Cadenza: About Adaptive Cruise Control
July 17, 2014
Adaptive cruise control is a technology that not too long ago was restricted to flagship-type vehicles like our Mercedes CL65, but now, is trickling down to cars like the Ford Fusion, Jeep Cherokee and our 2014 Kia Cadenza. The systems themselves differ between manufacturers and some are certainly better than others in regards to functionality and additional features. The Cadenza's is one of the better ones.
It will bring the car down to a complete stop if needed without input from the driver (others will at some point alert you to take over and brake), but doesn't go so far as to start back up again without the driver pressing Resume (Mercedes' Distronic Plus and others do this, including in stop-and-go traffic).
The Cadenza's system also does a good job of recognizing the speed of the car ahead and reacting accordingly. Here are two scenarios where this is important. First, a faster car passes you on the left and you quickly pull in behind it. A lesser ACC system will simply detect the car ahead initially, freak out and hit the brakes because it's deemed you to be too close. A better system like the Cadenza's will recognize that the car ahead is moving faster than you and although presently too close, won't be for long. Perhaps it backs off the gas a little, but certainly won't drop anchor.
The second scenario involves a slower car ahead. If the system detects a vehicle in the distance that is moving much slower than you are, it will start to gradually decelerate instead of waiting to suddenly drop anchor. This is better for smooth driving, although it can be annoying when on a multi-lane freeway, as the car begins to slow itself down long before you'd normally even think about changing lanes to pass. This requires extra thought on your part to anticipate when that car will be detected (something ACC is supposed to reduce) and extra gasoline usage when recouping the speed you've lost due to unnecessary slowing.
Because of this and other reasons, I would not pay extra for adaptive cruise control, or at least would prefer if you could turn off its automated properties (as you can in Chrysler products, for example). Generally speaking, the annoyances outweigh the benefits.
There is one, definite exception though: the interminable slog between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where my fury towards other drivers knows no bounds. There are people driving too slow, there are people maniacally trying to set land speed records, tailgating is rampant and everyone drives in the left lane except for trucks, RVs and people who like driving the same speed (or slower) than trucks and RVs. Passing is usually done on the right and if you're a particularly significant jerk, accomplished by squeezing in at the last possible second before ramming into a semi and slowing down all the tailgating cars now behind you.
In short, traffic is constantly speeding up and constantly slowing down. It's infuriating and usually results in me reaching my destination tired and in a foul mood. With ACC, though, much of the mental and physical effort required to cope with this nonsense is transferred to the car itself. If I frequented Las Vegas, adaptive cruise control would therefore be worth its weight in gold. Or casino chips, I suppose.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 11,270 miles