GM Expands Super Cruise Coverage

Hands-free driving will soon be available on 400,000 miles of mapped roads

GM Ultra Cruise Illustration: GM

General Motors is doubling the Super Cruise network to 400,000 miles of mapped roads in the U.S. and Canada. The hands-free Super Cruise active driving assistance system currently works on mapped divided highways, but it will soon allow compatible vehicles to use this feature on additional state and federal routes, adding divided and undivided highways. Super Cruise supports the driver to relieve fatigue and stress, such as on long highway road trips, automating some acceleration and steering functions.

Notable additions include U.S. Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway (aka California’s state Route 1), Overseas Highway (aka U.S. Route 1), and the Trans-Canada Highway. 

The mileage expansion will be available later this year and will be delivered over the air at no additional charge on Super Cruise-equipped models, a GM spokeswoman told CR. These initial models use the Vehicle Intelligence Platform (VIP) and currently include the Cadillac Escalade, CT4, and CT5; the GMC Hummer EV and Sierra; and the Chevrolet Silverado. By the end of 2023, there will be 22 GM models with available Super Cruise.

More on advanced car safety

Super Cruise stands out for its focus on mapped roads, rather than depending on the car to navigate as it goes, and for its effective direct driver monitoring. It stands apart in its ability to very clearly communicate to the driver via an illuminated steering wheel when the car is in control, when the driver needs to take over, and when the driver is in full control. The current Super Cruise system warns the driver with flashing LED lights on the steering wheel, and it can bring the vehicle to a gradual stop if the driver does not respond.

This news builds on the announcement earlier this year that GM would be introducing Ultra Cruise as an extension of the Super Cruise feature with the added capability of driving on city and subdivision streets and rural roads. Ultra Cruise will debut on the Celestiq electric car. 

Like Super Cruise, Ultra Cruise will still require the driver to be looking ahead. An inward-facing camera behind the steering wheel ensures that the driver’s eyes are watching the road. 

The automaker says Ultra Cruise will initially function on about 2 million miles of roads in the U.S. and Canada and that it will be able to follow plotted navigation routes, maintain following distance to vehicles ahead, obey speed limits, and react to permanent traffic control devices. Within the next two years, it will work on almost every paved road in the U.S. and Canada.

GM spokesperson Philip Lienert previously told CR that “Ultra Cruise works through the same basic sensor types as Super Cruise—it just has approximately 70 percent more of them, including integrated lidar behind the windshield.”

The addition of lidar with Ultra Cruise is a big deal. The technology uses light to pinpoint distances, and its accuracy makes it an integral part of many self-driving car prototypes. Lidar has traditionally been too expensive for widespread use, but prices are coming down, and more automakers are showing interest. 

Jeff S. Bartlett

A New England native, I have piloted a wide variety of vehicles, from a Segway to an aircraft carrier. All told, I have driven thousands of vehicles—many on race tracks across the globe. Today, that experience and passion are harnessed at the CR Auto Test Center to empower consumers. And if some tires must be sacrificed in the pursuit of truth, so be it. Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSBartlett).

Head shot of CR Autos Editor, Benjamin Preston

Benjamin Preston

My reporting has taken me everywhere from Baghdad, Iraq, to the Detroit auto show, along the U.S.-Mexico border and everywhere in between. If my travels have taught me anything, it's that stuff—consumer products—is at the center of daily life all over the world. That's why I'm so jazzed to be shining light on what works, what doesn't, and how people can enrich their lives by being smarter consumers. When I'm not reporting, I can usually be found at home with my family, at the beach surfing, or in my driveway, wrenching on my hot rod '74 Olds sedan.