Whether we're behind the wheel or a passenger, we all know the terrifying feeling of a close call on the road. One quick glance at our smartphone or a distraction from the backseat and we can find ourselves at serious risk. But as technology advances, new features are making cars safer than ever and—in some cases—allowing them to act faster than a human ever could to prevent a crash. At CR, we're not only testing and analyzing these advanced safety systems to help consumers understand the new landscape; we're also putting pressure on industry to ensure that the best features become standard equipment for everyone.

2020 Autos Spotlight

While these new technologies can be lifesavers on the road, their names create confusion in the marketplace. One manufacturer's "lane change alert" is another's "blind spot monitor," making it difficult for consumers to effectively compare features. To resolve these inconsistencies, CR has recommended standardized names across common advanced safety systems, a move that was endorsed earlier this year by the Department of Transportation—and a critical step in making these features more comprehensible. We also provide a clear glossary of names and definitions for these advanced car safety systems.

Of course, because this is our hotly anticipated Annual Auto Issue, we'll also delve into the performance, reliability, satisfaction, and safety of the entire field. We're not willing to compromise when it comes to the safety of your vehicles. That's why we're pushing automakers to make lifesaving technologies—forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection—standard on all versions of a model in order to earn a coveted spot as a Top Pick. After all, we believe basic safety is a right for all of us—not a luxury reserved only for those who can afford it.