I drove round-trip from Detroit to New York City over Labor Day weekend — a grueling 10 hours each way — but for a good chunk of that time, the car took the wheel for me.
Why it matters: Cars with hands-free driver-assistance features are coming on the market thick and fast, but consumers are still wary of them.
Where it stands: You still cannot buy a self-driving car, but more than half of the 2023 auto models on the market are available with a feature that’s a step in that direction: an optional active driving assistance system (ADAS).
What happened: I tested a 2023 Lincoln Navigator equipped with Ford’s BlueCruise technology to deliver my daughter to grad school in New York City.
Using a combination of GPS mapping and a forward-facing camera, the system advised when I was on a pre-qualified stretch of road — a “Blue Zone” — where hands-free driving was available.
What I found: I was surprised by how much more relaxed my upper body felt — plus, I turned on the cooling seat massager, which helped keep me alert while eliminating pressure points.
Of note: This version of BlueCruise was better than one I tried previously.
Yes, but: There were a few “uh-oh” moments, like when the car veered sharply, confused by freshly painted white lines that were smeared on the roadway. I had to grab the wheel quickly.
The intrigue: Autonomous trucks are coming, which could cut down on that problem.
The bottom line: A long road trip was much better with a robot as my co-pilot.