2021 Cadillac Escalade will get next-gen Super Cruise with auto lane-change

The 2021 CT5 and 2021 CT4 also get the new Super Cruise

Super Cruise is getting its first big update since it was originally launched on the 2018 CT6 sedan. As that large car fades away, this new version of Super Cruise will be coming online in the 2021 CT5, CT4 and … the 2021 Escalade! Yes, ladies and gents, Cadillac is finally applying its advanced driver assistant to the iconic Escalade.

The biggest change to this version of Super Cruise is a new feature called “Lane Change on Demand.” When Super Cruise is engaged, the driver can tap the turn stalk, and the car will execute a hands-free lane change if it’s safe to do so. This kind of lane-change functionality is similar to that offered by other manufacturers' systems (i.e. Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, BMW). However, like the rest of Super Cruise, the car is able to complete the task with the driver’s hands completely off the steering wheel so long as the driver monitor can tell that you’re paying attention.

Further improvements abound. “This is our most extensive update we’ve made to Super Cruise since its debut,” said Mario Maiorana, Super Cruise chief engineer. “We have made a number of improvements to make Super Cruise more intuitive, better performing and more accessible for our customers. In addition to the automated lane change functionality, we’ve made improvements to the user interface and hands-free driving dynamics.”

Cadillac says that it has gathered richer map information to make the lane change function possible and also to make turns and highway interchanges smoother. The software was also improved with the aim of gaining “better steering and speed control.” Cadillac also made the system easier to engage. It did this by allowing the operator to switch the Super Cruise system on, and then get the vehicle in a proper lane position — it automatically activates once the vehicle is positioned. Previously, the driver had to get the vehicle centered in the lane properly, and then you were allowed to switch the system on.

The auto lane changing function operates similarly to other systems like it. When driving, you can either tap or fully depress the turn signal stalk. The car then looks for an acceptable opening in the indicated lane. Once found, the car begins its lane change. Within the gauge cluster, there are animations that keep the driver apprised of the lane change at all times. Once the vehicle has moved into the new lane, it’ll shut the turn signal off and continue driving along. Cadillac says it improved the rear-facing sensors so that it could better detect vehicles approaching from behind. It also says that GM’s new electrical architecture was pivotal in making this feature possible, due to the higher data processing power and electrical bandwidth.

We’ve found Super Cruise to be supremely pleasant to use here at Autoblog. The tech won our 2019 Technology of the Year Award, and this next generation of the technology looks like it makes the experience even better. The tech’s basic principles remain the same — it still uses a camera and infrared lights to detect the driver’s attention, and a flashing bar of light on the steering wheel to indicate that the system is on. The LiDAR map data and GPS positioning system combine with radar and cameras to make the entire hands-free experience work. 

As of now, Cadillac says its customers have driven over 5.2 million miles using Super Cruise. It’s also being used approximately 50 percent of the time that it’s possible to be used, according to GM’s internal statistics. We’ve found it helpful on roads where it’s available, and we’re excited to try out this improved version when the 2021 CT5, CT4 and Escalade come online.

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