High tech features in cars get mixed reviews from consumers. Some drivers are old enough to remember roll down windows, radios that could only get AM and FM stations, vehicles without airbags or antilock brakes. Today, some cars are close to self-driving. Some have features that allow most actions by the electronics and navigation systems to be done by voice command. Others have crash preventions systems that have certainly prevented accidents and may have saved some lives.
One problem car manufacturers and dealers have with the new generation of vehicle technology is that some features can be hard to use. Some research even shows that people do not use many of these features at all. Among the more well-regarded and widely used research on the issue is the “2021 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study”. Among the things the research covers is how well manufacturers “bring new technologies to market”. Do people adopt new technologies, or use them at all?
Another new research project from Consumer Reports looked at similar issues. In an analysis titled “How Much Automation Does Your Car Really Have?” Among the first questions that the authors asked had a troubling answer, at least for companies that make and market cars: “Half of new cars can automate steering and speed controls, but there remains too much confusion in how these systems work.” The primary target of the research is “active driver assist systems (ADAS).”
These ADAS features include cruise control (which has been available for decades) and systems that control both steering and speed. Consumer Reports lists cars with these feature sets as ones with “Level 2 automation”. The authors make it clear that these features can add substantially to safe driving. However, like J.D. Power, they call out the difficulty complex systems have that affects many drivers.
Among the suggestions Consumer Reports offers to car companies are that features should have common names across all vehicles, make it clear what the features do, and make sure cars are equipped with camera-based monitoring systems.
The car companies that make some number of Level 2 models are:
Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Ford, Genesis, Honda. Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Land Rover, Lexas, Lincoln, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes, Nissan, Polestar, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.