Guide to Lane Departure Warning & Lane Keeping Assist
Along with lane centering assist, these systems sound the same but work quite differently
Many new vehicles come with systems that can exert some control over steering. But these features can operate very differently, and drivers are divided on which ones they like. Consumer Reports members who responded to our latest safety survey told us they favor systems that can help ease stress during highway drives, but they don’t love warning systems that can sometimes be startling or too sensitive.
What Should Car Buyers Look for in LDW and LKA, and LCA Systems?
The most frequent complaints about LDW systems are that they sound an audible or tactile warning even when a driver is intentionally crossing a lane line.
“I wish the system could sense potholes, objects on the road, pedestrians and bicyclists that are not in your travel lane, but require you to shift [over],” says the owner of a Mazda CX-5. “The lane departure warning and lane keep assist are the only safety features I don’t particularly like about my Forester, simply because they are wrong much more often than they are right,” says the owner of a 2017 Subaru. “I frequently get alerts when I haven’t left my lane, or, for example, when I try to give a large vehicle, disabled vehicle, or bicyclist extra room.” A 2021 Tesla Model Y driver said it “bings at me when I’m departing [a] lane when I am moving over due to [a] biker or runner. Shouldn’t be as sensitive off highways or ideally should see the biker/runner and recognize I am moving over line to give them more room.”
On some vehicles, the complaints involve the warnings themselves, which can be distracting, says Kelly Funkhouser, manager for vehicle technology at CR. “Drivers prefer systems that have a steering wheel or seat vibration over those that have an audible beep,” she says. “However, the steering wheel in many Honda and Acura vehicles shudders so much that it can feel like you’re losing control of the steering wheel.”
The driver of a 2017 Honda CR-V agrees: “When I am passing a vehicle on an expressway and it moves toward my lane, and I react by moving left in my lane, the steering wheel jiggles as a lane departure warning,” they wrote. “I am depending on the wheel to move me away from danger on the right, watching for danger on the left. The jiggling wheel is a dangerous distraction.”
Even though LCA systems are more popular than LDW or LKW, Funkhouser says that different vehicles interpret “centering” very differently. “Some try as hard as they can to keep your vehicle in the dead center of the lane, while others allow drivers to steer smoothly within lane lines to avoid potholes,” she says.
Many drivers report fighting against LCA’s inputs. “We don’t see eye to eye on where I should be in my lane,” a 2019 Subaru Outback driver says. “I often turn it off.”
Some survey respondents expected LKA systems to work more like LCA systems, but that’s not the case. “LKA features are not designed to continuously steer the vehicle,” Funkhouser says. “They are meant to intervene at the last moment before a lane departure occurs to keep the vehicle within its lane.”
LKA, LDW, and LCA systems are only as good as the lines on the road, and they can become confused by multiple markings painted during road construction, lane lines that are faded or covered by snow, markings that suddenly disappear or merge as lanes come together, or if the camera lens is blinded by direct sunlight.
“It responds badly to merge lanes not recognizing loss of lane,” says the driver of a 2019 Chevrolet Traverse.
Ultimately, Funkhouser says that drivers should try these systems out during an extended test drive if they expect to use them, and they should read the owner’s manual to learn about their limitations and idiosyncrasies. “Even though some lane centering systems are quite impressive, they are a convenience system that’s no substitute for staying in control of the vehicle,” she says.
Brand Names for Lane Systems
CR, AAA, J.D. Power, and the National Safety Council have agreed on standardized, specific names for about 20 individual safety systems in order to reduce confusion and improve consumer understanding of what they do. Still, manufacturers often use their own names for these systems. These are some of the names that automakers use or have used.
|Acura||Lane departure warning and lane keeping assist|
|Alfa Romeo||Lane departure warning/lane keeping assist|
|Audi||Lane departure warning/Audi active lane assist|
|BMW||Lane departure warning|
|BMW||Active lane keeping assistant with side collision avoidance|
|Buick||Lane keep assist with lane departure warning|
|Buick||Lane departure warning|
|Cadillac||Lane keep assist with lane departure warning|
|Chevrolet||Lane keep assist with lane departure warning|
|Chrysler||Lane departure warning with lane keep assist/LaneSense|
|Fiat||Lane departure warning with lane keep assist/LaneSense|
|Ford||Lane keeping system|
|Genesis||Lane departure warning and lane keeping assist|
|GMC||Lane keep assist w/lane departure warning|
|Honda||Lane departure warning|
|Honda||Lane keeping assist system|
|Hyundai||Lane departure warning and lane keep assist|
|Infiniti||Lane departure prevention|
|Jeep||LaneSense/Active Lane Management|
|Kia||Lane keep assist|
|Kia||Lane departure warning|
|Lexus||Lane departure warning|
|Lexus||Lane departure alert with steering assist|
|Lincoln||Lane keeping system|
|Mazda||Lane keep assist system and lane departure warning|
|Mercedes-Benz||Active lane keeping assist|
|Mini||Lane departure warning|
|Mitsubishi||Lane departure warning|
|Nissan||Lane departure warning and lane departure prevention|
|Nissan||Intelligent lane intervention|
|Porsche||Lane keeping assist|
|Subaru||Lane departure warning and lane keeping assist/EyeSight system|
|Toyota||Lane departure alert|
|Toyota||Lane departure alert with steering assist|
|Toyota||Lane tracing assist|
|Volvo||Oncoming lane mitigation|
|Volvo||Lane keeping aid|