LOS ANGELES — Traffic is back. During the height of lockdown last year the roads were empty and it was smooth sailing wherever you needed to go, but that’s over (thank goodness).
While I missed traffic for a while, I’m thinking that was an anomaly. Now, it’s an annoyance again — but Chevrolet has the answer. It’s called Super Cruise, and it’s been around for a few years but on a very limited basis: namely, in the Cadillac CT6.
That’s Cadillac’s flagship sedan, which GM doesn’t sell terribly many of and it’s been a waiting game to see which vehicles Super Cruise would head to next. First was the new 2021 Cadillac Escalade, which has been heavily advertised but also costs more than $100,000 (and Super Cruise has extremely limited availability because of production and supplier issues).
But now there’s the new 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV, which is a tweaked version of the Bolt EV that I drove last year, complete with a longer wheelbase, refreshed look, and that commuter killer app: Super Cruise.
Forget the car for a minute and let’s talk Super Cruise. Standard adaptive or radar cruise control uses cameras and a radar sensor to determine the speed of the car in front of you and your distance to it. With that information, the car can automatically slow to match the speed of that car and keep you from driving into it.
The advantage here is that you don’t need to use the pedals at all when adaptive cruise is activated – all you need to do is steer. This is great for stop-and-go traffic, because the car handles all the tedious braking and accelerating, while you can focus on your true crime podcast or whatever and just steer the car. But, you still have to steer. That’s where Super Cruise comes in.
GM has taken laser-scans of just about all of the limited-access highways (think roads with exit ramps and without stoplights) in the United States. With that information, its cars fitted with the Super Cruise feature can actually steer themselves down the highway. That’s right, you don’t have to touch the steering wheel at all when you’re driving (unless the system has an issue like bad weather or particularly bad sun glare).
It really works, too. I tested it in the new 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV on the highways around Los Angeles last week and it was magnificent.
When you’re on an eligible highway (basically all interstates plus some other major thoroughfares), a tiny steering wheel image illuminates on the dash indicating that the system is ready to go. Press a button on the steering wheel and you’re off. A large strip at the top of the wheel illuminates green when the system is operating and you can take your hands off the wheel entirely.
It steers for you, keeping you centered in your lane while the adaptive cruise control maintains speed. It’s the only system on the market today that offers true hands-free driving.
Now this isn’t “self-driving” or “autonomous” driving. You’re still required to pay attention to what’s going on and no watching Harry Potter on your phone while you do it. There’s a small sensor that looks at your eyes to make sure you’re keeping them on the road at all times. No napping allowed!
But the car takes over 85 percent of the work of actually getting you down the road and you just keep an eye on anything weird that might be going on up ahead. Super Cruise can’t do anything about deer wandering in front of you, nor will it handle people moving into your lane from the side — it only looks forward, so you’re on your own for weird things like that.
But the system really, truly works and that means the Chevrolet Bolt EUV is by far the best car on the market for driving to work if you have a highway-heavy commute. Oh, and it’s all-electric and should get somewhere around 250 miles of range, all for around $43,000 (the federal tax credit is gone for all GM vehicles, unfortunately).
Though my concerns about on-the-go charging remain (see my review of the Chevy Bolt EV last year for more), as a second car or commuter car, the Bolt EUV is the best option on the market simply because of how good Super Cruise is. It’s a game changer, and I’m thrilled that it’s coming to more cars.
By the way, Super Cruise is coming to the Chevrolet Silverado for 2022, too.