The latest safety technologies in cars have the potential to significantly reduce crashes. Consumer Reports looks at which safety systems owners like and the brands that do them best.
- Forward-Collision Warning (FCW). This technology provides a visual, audible and/or tactile alert to warn the driver of an impending collision with a car or object directly in its path. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) data shows that FCW reduces rear-end accidents by 27 percent. Eighty percent or more of Infiniti, Tesla and Subaru owners were very satisfied with the FCW system in their vehicles.
- Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). If a car equipped with AEB senses a potential collision and you don't react in time, it starts braking for you. IIHS data shows rear-end collisions are cut by 50 percent on vehicles with AEB and FCW. Infiniti, Tesla and Subaru owners were the happiest with AEB, with more than 74 percent of vehicles rated at very satisfied.
- Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). Lasers, radar, cameras or a combination are used to keep a constant, safe following space between your car and the car ahead. If highway traffic slows, some systems will bring the car to a complete stop, then bring it back up to speed when traffic gets going again. Others only work at certain speeds. Ninety-two percent of Tesla owners were very satisfied with their ACC system, the highest among all brands.
- Blind Spot Warning (BSW). This is a technology that detects and warns of vehicles you can't see alongside your car. It gives a visual, audible and/or tactile alert to indicate that it's unsafe to merge or change lanes. The system may provide an additional warning if you use your turn signal when there is a car in the lane next to you. Consumer Reports found that the blind-spot warning safety feature registered high satisfaction scores across most auto brands, but especially for Lexus, Hyundai and Toyota.
- Lane-Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane-Keeping Assist (LKA). With LDW, visual, audible and/or tactile warnings - such as steering wheel or seat vibrations - alert the driver when the car crosses lane markings. The system does not activate when you use your turn signal. In addition to sensing when you drift from your lane, LKA provides steering input or braking to correct the vehicle if it starts to exit the lane. More than 77 percent of Cadillac, Hyundai and Tesla owners were very satisfied with their LDW system, followed by Lexus, Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep.
- Rear Cross-Traffic Warning (RCTW) and Rearview Cameras. The RCTW systems give visual, audible and/or tactile notification of an object or vehicle that is out of rear camera range but is approaching as you're backing up. Some systems will automatically brake to avoid a crash. Owners were happy with the rearview cameras across most manufacturers. Tesla, Lincoln and Ram topped Consumer Reports' survey, with very satisfied ratings above 90 percent. RCTW received praise, too, especially the systems from Kia, Subaru and Hyundai, each rated at 89 percent very satisfied.