A new ranking of automated driving systems is sure to raise some eyebrows among the Tesla fan community. Autopilot from Tesla was ranked second behind Cadillac's Super Cruise system. Interestingly, Nissan's ProPilot Assist system outscored Tesla's Autopilot in one of the five evaluation areas and tied it in another. Nissan's system came very close to tying Autopilot overall. Volvo's Pilot Assist finished last, and also scored lowest on key safety aspects of the evaluation.
Consumer Reports (CR) is the organization that conducted the evaluation. CR is uniquely qualified to do such testing, since they are one of the few organizations with the resources to purchase and own expensive luxury models like Tesla's $59K Model 3 (that is what the group paid for theirs) and pricey Volvos and Cadillacs. Consumer Reports has also recently led the automotive media in reporting on Autopilot related topics, such as the recent over the air update that disabled some of its Model 3's safety systems.
CR evaluated the four brands' systems in five areas: Capability and Performance, Ease of Use, Clear When Safe To Use, Keeping Driver Engaged, and Unresponsive Driver. In each category, the brands were assessed an icon representing scores from "Worse" to "Better" in five steps. We will simplify that in our reporting here by just saying 1 for the lowest and 5 for the highest.
CR found that the Cadillac Supercruise system scored a 5 in Clear When Safe To Use, and a 4 in both Keeping Driver Engaged and Unresponsive Driver. Cadillac also had no score lower than a 2. Volvo finished dead last with four of its five categories only earning a 1 (the worst score possible). Nissan did not have any scored lower than a 2. Tesla's system scored highest in Capability and Performance, earning a score of 4.
“We have been evaluating these systems on a case-by-case basis for a few years, but we are at a tipping point where they are now going mainstream,” says Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. “Stacked up against each other, you can really see significant differences. The best systems balance capability with safeguards—making driving easier and less stressful in the right situations. Without proper safeguards, overreliance on the system is too easy, which puts drivers at risk.”
Consumer Reports' emphasis on safety as a critical aspect of these systems is justified. Tesla vehicles have killed their occupants in crashes on more than one occasion while the Autopilot system was engaged and in just the past year, four Tesla vehicles on Autopilot have reportedly crashed into first responder vehicles stopped at the side of the road.
Consumer Reports is a subscription-only publication. You may attempt to see this new report at this link.