Cadillac Super Cruise Mini Review

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

I’ve tested Cadillac’s Super Cruise twice this year, and I had my first taste of Ford’s BlueCruise autonomous system last year.

As a journalist who covers the automotive industry, I have plenty of opinions about autonomous driving – mainly, I don’t believe we’ll see full Level 5 anytime soon. As a journalist who’s also been able to actually test AV systems, I have come to the conclusion that for now, at least, using an AV system leaves you with very mixed feelings. Especially if you’re a car enthusiast and not someone who merely uses your car as a means of conveyance.


Maybe that will change as we get more used to systems like Super Cruise, but for now, I walked away feeling a bit unnerved. Though I still think that limitations in the technology mean human drivers won’t be fully replaced anytime soon. More on that below.

To be clear, neither Super Cruise nor BlueCruise is a fully autonomous system. Let me reiterate that there is NO fully autonomous Level 5 system on the market today. The best you can get is Level 2, though some newer systems are flirting with Level 3.

Both Super Cruise and BlueCruise also only work on certain roads – roads that are mostly, if not exclusively, freeways.

This past weekend I took the Cadillac Escalade V-Series to my parent’s house for Mother’s Day. The trip is a little over 50 miles each way, with a good chunk being expressway. I’d have a chance to really test out Super Cruise – especially since my previous test, a month or two back, of the system in a CT4 was limited to a short run up and down Chicago’s famed DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

I’ll speak more about the system’s specifics when I review the V-Series, but in general, I found it to work really well, yet I was also on high alert in case the system needed me to take over at a second’s notice. I was on such high alert that it was actually more tiring than if I’d done the driving myself.

That might be a “me” problem more than a tech issue – maybe I just haven’t learned to trust this stuff yet. But I was keeping my hands near the wheel and my right foot hovering over the pedals. Even if I probably didn’t need to. That said, I did relax a bit as time went on.

Almost immediately after activating Super Cruise, which requires you to have already turned adaptive cruise control on, I encountered a traffic jam. I was ready to take over for the system but before I could I felt the Escalade slowing – and it came to a complete stop without any intervention from me. It accelerated and braked as appropriate during the stop-and-go slog. I was only tasked with taking over when a construction zone threw off the truck’s maps of the road.

Out of 110 miles or so of driving, I think about half was spent with the Escalade doing all the driving.

Super Cruise even automates lane changes. Flick the blinker, and it will change lanes for you. It will also change lanes on its own should it encounter a slowpoke that needs to be passed. This latter maneuver was a bit problematic – if the vehicle flashed an indicator of its intent in the dash, I missed it, and a couple of times I thought the system was making a mistake and manually took over when I didn’t need to.

That, again, may indicate that I am just not used to these systems enough to trust them. A prime example occurred on my return trip – road construction meant the lanes were shifted. I was in the left-most lane, and there were construction barrels between the wall and the lane, and the Escalade seemed like it wasn’t going to follow the lanes and I’d be center-punching one of said barrels. So I grabbed the wheel, flicked it, and then reset the system. Only later did I realize that the ‘Slade probably would’ve turned but it would’ve waited a split-second longer than I did. After all, the SC lights were green, indicating it was working fine. It would’ve turned red if it needed me to take over.

Of course, I may have taken more risk if the car was mine – I didn’t want to wreck an expensive Escalade that I don’t own because I put too much faith in Super Cruise. Imagine explaining that one: “Yeah I saw the barrels and the lane shift, but I’m testing Super Cruise and needed to see if it worked.”

I experienced a similar situation a few miles down the road – a crash had shut the left lane and brought out some fire trucks. As the cars in front of me shifted lanes to the right, Super Cruise kept the Escalade pointed straight, and it even started to accelerate to the set cruise speed when the lane cleared. I don’t know if the system didn’t “see” the fire trucks or was confused by the flashing lights. I don’t know if the truck would’ve slowed and changed lanes when it got closer to the fire trucks. I didn’t risk finding out the hard way – I took over and manually maneuvered it around the scene.

Again, was that a lack of trust on my part or a system failure? I don’t know and didn’t want to find out. Once again, imagine explaining that one – in this case, to the first responders: “I saw you and the lights, but I really needed to see if Super Cruise would navigate around you. For the sake of journalism.”

Super Cruise does monitor you, the driver, to make sure your eyes are on the road and you’re ready to take over. I found its monitoring to be inconsistent – one time, a quick glance at a billboard was enough to get the system to alert me to get my eyes back on the road. Another time, a longer look off to the side didn’t trigger anything and the Caddy trundled along blissfully under Super Cruise’s control.

I’ll close this with one final note – you become extra aware of drivers who cut you off when you’re hovering over the controls, ready to take over. Fortunately, the system always seemed to adjust to some asshole squeezing into a too-tight gap and either slowed the ‘Slade and/or changed lanes.

I don’t know how much I’d rely on Super Cruise or BlueCruise if I owned a vehicle so equipped. I did, after a while, start relaxing and trusting the system more. I wouldn’t recommend playing with your phone or becoming otherwise distracted – it’s still not safe, and things can happen fast at 70 mph – but I can see why someone would be tempted. Especially once you start to feel comfortable with the system.

I am not yet convinced you’ll be giving up your driver’s license and buying a car that can drive you everywhere anytime soon. We’ve seen too many issues with Tesla’s misleadingly named Full-Self Driving system, and Super Cruise and BlueCruise remain limited to certain roads. Those latter two systems also still occasionally get flummoxed – or at least seem to react more slowly than I feel comfortable with.

But autonomous driving will be a larger part of your driving experience going forward, especially if you have luxury car money. I’d recommend keeping perspective – it can be a useful tool that makes freeway driving a little easier, but never forget that you’re in charge and must be ready to take over.

Or just get yourself a 20-year-old Miata and do all the driving yourself. That might be the cure for any AV-induced confusion.

[Images: Cadillac]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • SPPPP SPPPP on May 22, 2023

    @Tim Healey - Why assume that the Escalade would have shifted over for the barrels? After all, if the light was green, it might indicate it was aware of the lane shift ... or it might indicate that it was blissfully unaware of the lane shift and really would have plowed right into a barrel.


    I think your problem is that you know too much. If you were a perpetually distracted driver, you would welcome this system, because it would enable your bad, careless - even reckless behavior. So, as with many things in life, the people who use it the most are the ones who are least qualified to have it. (Alcohol, drugs, guns, power, you name it...)

    • Tim Healey Tim Healey on May 22, 2023

      I had faith, based on how it had worked to that point, that it would see and avoid the obstacle. Well, not much faith, obviously, since I took over before I could find out. So you might be right -- maybe I shouldn't have assumed it work if I had let it continue operating. This is the problem with real-world testing. Had I been at a test facility and the barrels been soft dummy targets, I'd have tried it to see what would happen.









  • RHD RHD on Jul 31, 2023

    First picture: "Man, this Super Cruise makes me sleepy... so sleepy... oh crap, I forgot to shave AGAIN!"

  • Lorenzo The unspoken killer is that batteries can't be repaired after a fender-bender and the cars are totaled by insurance companies. Very quickly, insurance premiums will be bigger than the the monthly payment, killing all sales. People will be snapping up all the clunkers Tim Healey can find.
  • Lorenzo Massachusetts - with the start/finish line at the tip of Cape Cod.
  • RHD Welcome to TTAH/K, also known as TTAUC (The truth about used cars). There is a hell of a lot of interesting auto news that does not make it to this website.
  • Jkross22 EV makers are hosed. How much bigger is the EV market right now than it already is? Tesla is holding all the cards... existing customer base, no dealers to contend with, largest EV fleet and the only one with a reliable (although more crowded) charging network when you're on the road. They're also the most agile with pricing. I have no idea what BMW, Audi, H/K and Merc are thinking and their sales reflect that. Tesla isn't for me, but I see the appeal. They are the EV for people who really just want a Tesla, which is most EV customers. Rivian and Polestar and Lucid are all in trouble. They'll likely have to be acquired to survive. They probably know it too.
  • Lorenzo The Renaissance Center was spearheaded by Henry Ford II to revitalize the Detroit waterfront. The round towers were a huge mistake, with inefficient floorplans. The space is largely unusable, and rental agents were having trouble renting it out.GM didn't know that, or do research, when they bought it. They just wanted to steal thunder from Ford by making it their new headquarters. Since they now own it, GM will need to tear down the "silver silos" as un-rentable, and take a financial bath.Somewhere, the ghost of Alfred P. Sloan is weeping.
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