Advanced safety systems are no longer reserved for high-priced luxury vehicles.
The Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 tested by Trucks.com on its Sea to Summit Adventure Drive each contained helpful technology such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and automatic emergency braking.
Trucks.com and a team of outdoor sports enthusiasts put the crossovers to the test during an action-packed day during which the group surfed off of Huntington Beach, Calif., in the morning, then drove to the Bear Mountain Resort in the San Bernardino Mountains for an afternoon of skiing and snowboarding.
The well-equipped crossovers – the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. after pickup trucks – prove that advanced safety features are becoming prevalent on affordable, high-volume vehicles. They are also extremely effective.
The group routinely expressed satisfaction with the way technology kept the crossovers safe on the road.
“I can definitely see how this would prevent a lot of accidents that happen every day,” said Mike Soulopulos, a Laguna Beach, Calif., surfer and travel photographer.
More automakers are making safety technology a standard feature in new crossovers, especially at the top trim levels.
Nissan’s system is called ProPilot Assist. Honda uses a suite called Honda Sensing, and Toyota has Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, or TSS 2.0. All three were included as standard equipment on trims that boasted a starting price under $35,000.
The systems are designed to reduce or prevent front-impact collisions and unintended lane departures. Each suite includes adaptive cruise control, lane-centering assist and braking assist. This allows the vehicles to perform semi-automated driving at highway speed. The crossovers can follow traffic at a set distance, navigate gentle curves and slow down to a stop when necessary.
LESS DRIVER STRESS
They also reduce driver fatigue. The safety systems lessen the stress on a driver’s physical and mental load by providing semi-automated assistance. This is especially important on the return trip from an exhausting day of surfing, skiing or even both.
The drivers on the adventure liked the adaptive cruise control feature in all three vehicles, especially the ability to maintain a set distance behind vehicles in traffic.
Of the three, the Honda CR-V with Honda Sensing best handled braking and accelerating in a safe and gradual manner. It also recognized vehicles coming into its lane and adjusted smoothly, said Caley Vanular, a snowboarder from Vancouver, Canada. The Rogue and RAV4 reacted more abruptly.
The Nissan system was easiest to activate. The Rogue featured a blue radar icon on the steering wheel that automatically launched ProPilot Assist in full.
By contrast, the CR-V and RAV4 required multiple buttons to link both adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. This allows drivers to select which functions they want activated, as opposed to the ProPilot Assist approach of choosing between the entire suite or nothing.
The team found that Nissan’s ProPilot Assist required less driver feedback on the steering wheel than the other two systems. “It’s easier to let the Rogue do its thing, like you should,” said Willie Woodard, a skier from Salt Lake City.
However, the system’s continuous adjustments to the steering wheel could be unnerving. And lane-keep assist in both the Rogue and RAV4 tended to push toward the outside boundary when the highway curved. Honda Sensing felt most natural of the three, drivers said.
The Honda CR-V also had the clearest rearview camera display in the group, an important safety feature to avoid collisions while in reverse. The CR-V offered several different viewing options such as a wide angle. The Nissan Rogue had the poorest picture. But it was the only vehicle to provide a 360-degree surround view, generated by several cameras around the vehicle that create a bird’s-eye view of parking spaces. The Toyota RAV4 had a straightforward backup view that worked fine but lacked standout features.
The three crossovers offer effective and affordable safety technology. Insurance industry data show that these features reduce the chances that a driver will get into a crash. That’s important because the best thing about any adventure is arriving back home safely.