Guide to Automatic Emergency Braking

How AEB can put the brakes on car collisions

Car brake lights being picked up as a warning by another cars Automatic Emergency Braking system Illustration: John Ritter

If a car equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) senses an imminent collision, and the driver doesn’t react in time, the car starts braking on its own. Some systems apply only a portion of the braking power, so drivers will want to apply the full brakes as well. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) data show rear-end collisions are cut by 50 percent on vehicles that are equipped with AEB and forward collision warning (FCW).

Common variations:

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB): The vehicle stops independently when it senses a crash is imminent to avoid a crash, or to reduce the severity of a crash that can’t be avoided.

Forward Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB): Brakes are automatically applied to prevent a collision or reduce impact force while the car is traveling forward.

Rear Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB-rear): Brakes are automatically applied to prevent a collision or reduce impact force while the car is traveling in Reverse.

Automatic Emergency Braking With Pedestrian Detection (AEB-ped): Brakes are automatically applied to prevent a collision or reduce impact force with pedestrians or bicyclists while the car is traveling forward.

City Speed AEB (AEB-city): Brakes are automatically applied to prevent a collision or reduce impact force at city speeds (which are typically 55 mph and below).

Highway Speed AEB (AEB-highway): Brakes are automatically applied to prevent a collision or reduce impact force at highway speeds (above 55 mph).

In a recent survey, we asked CR members to rate their experiences with the advanced safety and driver-assist systems on their model-year 2015-2019 cars. Respondents answered questions about their satisfaction with the systems and told us which ones helped them avoid a crash. The survey covered about 72,000 vehicles. See the highlights below.

Which Brands Do AEB Best?

Most satisfying systems, according to CR members: Genesis, Lexus, Tesla
One Genesis owner wrote, “Very effective, seems set just right and most of all, it always works.” Another said: “Came upon stopped traffic on highway and system braked before I reacted.” A Tesla driver wrote that the automatic braking function “has helped me avoid one accident, I’ll never buy a car without it.”

Least satisfying: Acura, Mazda, Honda
An Acura owner said, “Way too many false alarms. The system has engaged emergency braking when not necessary on many, many occasions. Even passengers think it's ridiculous.” A Mazda driver explained, “Often the automatic braking applies at full force when a more modulated brake apply would have been sufficient and preferred.”

CR’s Take: More automakers are making FCW and AEB available in new cars, but the two safety features are still not standard equipment across the industry. CR believes these systems should come with all trim levels, given their ability to save lives. Extra credit is awarded in our Overall Score for models that have systems that can operate at highway speeds and detect pedestrians as standard equipment.

Automatic Emergency Braking
Do owners like it?
Say the system helped them avoid a crash
Trust the system to work every time
Source: Consumer Reports' Advanced Safety Systems Survey.

Brand Names for AEB

MakeAEB Name/Package
AcuraCollision mitigation braking system/AcuraWatch
Alfa RomeoForward collision warning plus
AudiPre sense front
AudiPre sense city
BMWFrontal collision warning with city collision mitigation
BMWCollision warning with city braking function
BuickFront pedestrian detection
BuickFront automatic braking/Forward automatic braking
BuickLow speed forward automatic braking
CadillacLow Speed Forward Automatic Emergency Braking
CadillacEnhanced Forward Automatic Emergency Braking
CadillacFront Pedestrian Braking
ChevroletAutomatic Emergency Braking
ChevroletFront automatic braking
ChevroletLow speed forward automatic braking
ChevroletFront pedestrian braking
ChryslerFull speed forward collision warning with active braking
ChryslerFull speed forward collision warning plus
FiatFull speed forward collision warning with active braking
FordPre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) (Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning, Dynamic Brake Support)/Ford Co-Pilot360
GenesisForward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection
GMCLow speed forward automatic braking
GMCFront pedestrian braking
GMCForward automatic braking
HondaCollision mitigation braking system/Honda Sensing
HyundaiForward collision-avoidance Assist
HyundaiForward Collision-avoidance Assist w/Pedestrian Detection
InfinitiForward emergency braking
InfinitiIntelligent brake assist
InfinitiForward emergency braking with pedestrian detection
JeepFull speed forward collision warning with active braking
KiaAutonomous emergency braking
LexusPre-collision system/Lexus Safety System+2.0
LexusPre-collision system with pedestrian detection/Lexus Safety System+2.0
LexusPre-collision system with advanced driver attention monitor/Lexus Safety System+2.0
LincolnPre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) (dynamic brake support (DBS), forward collision warning (FCW), pedestrian detection)/Lincoln Co-Pilot360
MazdaSmart city brake support/smart brake support
Mercedes-BenzCollision prevention assist plus
Mercedes-BenzActive braking assist
MiniFrontal collision warning with city collision mitigation
MitsubishiForward collision mitigation system
NissanAutomatic emergency braking w/pedestrian detection
NissanAutomatic emergency braking
PorscheAdaptive cruise control + PAS Porsche Active Safe
PorscheWarn and Brake Assist
SubaruPre-collision braking—EyeSight
ToyotaPre-collision system with pedestrian detection/TSS-P
VolkswagenFront assist
VolkswagenFront Assist with Pedestrian Monitoring
VolvoCity Safety

Guide to Advanced Safety Systems

We tell you which safety systems owners like, and the brands that do them best.


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