2014 Kia Cadenza: Adaptive Cruise Control
May 21, 2014
As we edge closer to self-driving cars, it's interesting to see how different manufacturers design the adaptive cruise control systems. That feature in the 2014 Kia Cadenza is more refined than any I've driven. If I could learn to trust it (I can't stop hovering my foot over the brake) it would cut stress and make my congested commuter a lot easier.
Here's how it works.
Using the steering wheel controls, I set the speed I want to go, say 65 mph. If a car in front of me is going slower, the radar system detects its presence and adjusts my speed to follow at a safe distance. And, by the way, Kia seems to allow a closer following distance than other manufacturers. This is nice for cities like Los Angeles where gaps in traffic inspire blind rage in other drivers. They expect you to be right on the bumper of the car in front of you.
Now here's where it gets interesting. If the car in front of you slows all the way down to zero, how does the system handle this? And what happens when traffic starts moving again?
Again, with my foot hovering over the brake, I let the adaptive cruise control system slow me all the way down to a stop. If this stop was momentary, the car would then automatically speed back up to my pre-set speed. But if the stop was longer than about 3 seconds, a rather poorly worded message would appear reading, "Available to resume acceleration control." The true meaning was carried by a picture of a foot stepping on the accelerator. In other words, the adaptive cruise control feature didn't disengage, but it was asking for an input from the human driver before it would continue.
After experimenting with the system I realized that, in stop-and-go traffic, I could drive the 25 miles of freeway to the office without touching the brake at all. I might need to dab the gas every once in a while to wake it back up. But other than that, all I needed to do was steer.
But the biggest problem remains disengaging the human driver. After years of driving I'm pretty well conditioned to hit the brake when traffic is stopping in front of me, a logical response. Now, the car will do that for me.
Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 7,529 miles