An illustration of how Forward Collision Warning systems work.
Illustration: John Ritter

Forward collision warning (FCW) systems provide visual, audible, and/or tactile alerts to warn a driver of an impending collision with a car or object directly in its forward path. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) data show that FCW reduces rear-end accidents by 27 percent. Some systems let drivers adjust the timing of this warning to early, standard, or late.

Forward Collision Warning (FCW): A warning that alerts the driver of an imminent collision in its forward path.

FCW With Pedestrian Detection (FCW-Ped): Detects pedestrians in front of the vehicle and alerts the driver to their presence.

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 FCW Best?

Most satisfying systems, according to CR members: Chrysler, Lincoln, Ram, Lexus
One Chrysler owner shared his experience with FCW and automatic emergency braking (AEB), saying, “It works! I was driving in slow stop-and-go traffic. Something to the right of my Pacifica got my attention and I turned my head to the right to see it. The car ahead of me applied normal braking; my Pacifica emitted a loud verbal warning and applied the brakes as I turned my head back toward the front.” A Lincoln driver explains the impact of an FCW alert, writing, “It is very startling when the lights flash and the alarm goes off. It definitely can’t be ignored!”

Least satisfying: Jaguar, Honda, Acura
A Jaguar driver explained, “It is very difficult to know the real danger. Sometimes it beeps for no reason.” Honda drivers had similar frustrations, with one Ohio owner stating, “It activates too often when there is no need for it to come on.” A common complaint among Acura owners was that their vehicle would issue a visual “BRAKE” alert on the dash, but it wouldn’t bring the car to a stop. This underscores the value of having both FCW and AEB.

CR’s Take: More automakers are making FCW and AEB available in new cars, but these two important safety features are still not standard equipment across the industry. CR believes these systems should come with all trim levels, given their ability to protect and save lives. CR awards extra credit to a model’s Overall Score if it has systems that can operate at highway speeds and detect pedestrians as standard equipment.

Forward Collision Warning
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 FCW

MakeFCW Name/Package
AcuraForward collision warning/AcuraWatch
Alfa RomeoForward collision warning
Alfa RomeoForward collision warning plus
AudiPre sense front
AudiPre sense city
BMWFrontal collision warning with city collision mitigation
BMWCollision warning with city braking function
BuickForward collision alert
CadillacForward collision alert
ChevroletForward collision alert
ChryslerFull speed forward collision warning plus
ChryslerFull speed forward collision warning with active braking
FiatFull speed forward collision warning with active braking
Ford

Forward collision warning with brake support

Ford

Pre-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 front automatic braking
GMCForward collision alert
Honda

Forward collision warning/Honda Sensing

Hyundai

Forward Collision-avoidance Assist

Hyundai

Forward collision-avoidance assist w/pedestrian detection

InfinitiForward emergency braking with pedestrian detection
InfinitiPredictive forward collision warning
JeepFull speed forward collision warning with active braking
KiaForward collision avoidance (FCA) with pedestrian detection
KiaForward collision warning (FCW)
LexusPre-collision system/Lexus safety system+2.0
LexusPre-collision system with pedestrian detection/Lexus safety system+2.0
LexusPre-collision system/Lexus safety system+2.0
Lincoln Forward collision warning/Lincoln Co-Pilot360
MazdaForward obstruction warning
MazdaSmart city brake support
Mercedes-Benz Pre-safe brake with pedestrian recognition
Mercedes-BenzActive braking assist
MiniFrontal collision warning with city collision mitigation
MitsubishiForward collision mitigation system
NissanIntelligent forward collision warning
NissanAutomatic emergency braking (AEB)
NissanIntelligent forward collision warning
PorscheAdaptive cruise control with Porsche active safe (PAS)
PorscheWarn and Brake Assist
Subaru

Pre-collision braking—EyeSight

ToyotaPre-collision system with pedestrian detection/TSS-P
Volkswagen Front 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.