2015 Acura TLX: Embracing Our Autonomous Future
August 17, 2015
This past weekend, I drove some family members down to San Diego and back in our 2015 Acura TLX. As I pulled into the carpool lane, I activated all the active driving features. Then I realized this is what our impending autonomous future looks like.
The TLX has both adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. The former lets the driver choose a target speed and follow distance, and the car follows those targets the best it can. The lane-keep assist system monitors the TLX's path and makes steering corrections to keep it in its lane.
Neither system takes over the driving experience. While I didn't have as bad of an experience as Mike Magrath, I found the cruise control somewhat sluggish in meeting its target speed, so I'd add throttle occasionally to help it. The lane-keep system needs some help, too. In fact, if you remove your hands from the wheel, it flashes a warning and beeps at you.
I don't think these systems take the driving experience away like a light switch. The process is gradual; they eliminate the annoying parts of driving. On the three-hour drive south, I kept my hands on the wheel and my feet ready by the pedals, but I didn't have to concentrate as hard on the surrounding traffic.
With these systems on, I was able to enjoy the conversation in the car while eyeing little more than sudden stops on the freeway. The TLX monitored those too, flashing "BRAKE" on the dash when it thought I wasn't stopping quickly enough.
It's easy to see our autonomous future looking something like this. You'll have a car with more advanced features, and there will be roads or lanes designated for autonomous cars. You'll enter, activate the features, and stop driving. The car will do the rest.
On long, traffic-laden drives like the one I did this weekend, it'll be a blessing.
Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor @ 5,400 miles