• New Forward Collision Warning-Plus and Lane Departure Warning-Plus
  • Available ParkSense automatic parallel and perpendicular parking
  • Features debuting on all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee

Chrysler has announced it will offer new active safety features for its 2014 vehicles. Two such systems, active lane-departure warning and active forward-collision warning, debut in the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. These systems not only alert the driver of a potential hazard but will also intervene if the driver fails to respond. That's one step beyond the functionality of other Chrysler systems that warn the driver but take no action.

Chrysler calls its active systems Forward Collision Warning-Plus (FCW+) and Lane Departure Warning-Plus (LDW+). The "plus" indicates an active feature, one that both warns the driver and can take control of the vehicle to avoid a potential collision. Chrysler's more basic FCW and LDW systems -- ones that only warn the driver -- are also available on some models.

Of these two active safety features, Chrysler's FCW+ may be the more helpful in assisting drivers. It uses both radar and a camera to sense the speed of a vehicle ahead. If the vehicle is moving slowly or is stopped, FCW+ warns the driver of the potential hazard with audio and visual cues. If the driver doesn't act, FCW+ then pulses the brakes in another attempt to warn the driver. Finally, FCW+ can apply brakes to avoid or mitigate a collision if the driver fails to respond.

LDW+ works similarly, sensing the vehicle's surroundings and providing warnings followed by corrective action. Also camera-based, LDW+ monitors the vehicle's position in its lane and the driver's use of turn signals. If the driver does not signal but the vehicle begins to leave its lane, LDW+ warns the driver with a visual cue, then gently nudges the vehicle back into its lane. The driver can feel the corrective action in the steering wheel but can also overcome it easily if the lane-change is intentional.

Adaptive cruise control is another driver assistance feature in Chrysler vehicles, and it too gets a "plus" in the 2014 Cherokee. ACC+ can bring the vehicle to a complete stop, allowing it to function in heavy, stop-and-go traffic. Finally, Chrysler's ParkSense automatic parallel and perpendicular parking system also arrives in the new Cherokee.

What it means to you: Automotive safety features are quickly advancing through the use of high-tech sensors and processors. Electronic driver-assistance systems are still mostly reserved for pricier luxury models, but the technology is trickling down. And just like earlier safety innovations such as airbags and anti-lock brakes, systems such as Chrysler's Forward Collision Warning-Plus will likely be available across the automaker's lineup within a few years.

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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