I recently had the chance to drive a Cadillac CT6, which is a large luxury sedan Cadillac makes to compete with vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Genesis G90. It’s a nice, comfortable car, and it also drove me down the highway.
Yes, I sat in a CT6 as it drove me down the highway. This came courtesy of a feature called Super Cruise, which is a $5,000 option in the CT6 — and which is basically the closest thing we have right now to real automotive autopilot. I’ll get to all that in a second. First, I should mention that I borrowed this car from Tustin Cadillac and I drove it around the mean streets of Orange County, California, driving calmly and quietly, just as I presume CT6 owners will drive.
But then I got it out on the highway and turned on Super Cruise, and I was in awe. Here’s how Super Cruise works: Cadillac has mapped basically every major highway in the United States for use with this system, meaning the car isn’t just seeing one or two car lengths ahead, like some systems, but rather dozens of miles ahead (hundreds, really). If you’re on one of the highways they’ve mapped, you can engage Super Cruise, and you never have to put your hands on the wheel. This is different from other automated driving systems, which require you to put your hands on the wheel periodically to let the car know you’re still there.
The reason Cadillac’s system is different is that Cadillac has installed a little camera directly above the center of the steering wheel to watch you. If it detects that you aren’t paying attention, it will alert you to focus your eyes back on the road. Stop paying attention for too long and Super Cruise will beep at you, flash lights, and then, eventually, bring the car to a stop. For regulators, this basically functions like the systems that make you put your hands on the wheel — except instead of the system making you put your hands on the wheel so it knows you’re there, it’s actually monitoring your eyes.
So you have to look forward — but, otherwise, you really can let the car drive itself. I showed the workings of the system in the attached video, but the general gist is that various things in the gauge cluster and on the steering wheel turn green, the system is activated, and then you’re good to go. The car relies on its maps to steer and anticipate upcoming turns, and it uses the traditional sensors and cameras to keep a safe distance from other vehicles on the road. The system worked just fine in stop-and-go traffic and regular highway driving, though it becomes confused if you pass a highway exit and the road line disappears — so it’s best to stick to a middle lane.
Unfortunately, Super Cruise only works on those mapped highways — but once you’re on the regular road, the CT6 is a fine vehicle to drive yourself. The one I drove was equipped to around $70,000, which is about the going rate for most CT6 models, and it used a 335-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine — the mid-level powertrain. It wasn’t exceptionally fast or exciting, but it drives smoothly, with good power and light, easy steering. The seats are very comfortable and there’s a lot of room for the driver, and the CT6 is well-insulated from the road. Simply put, it feels like the luxury sedan you’d expect it to be, given the size, pricing and the competitive set.
Interestingly, the cool technology in the CT6 goes beyond just the Super Cruise system: another feature I found quite novel was the rearview mirror camera. In your car’s rearview mirror, you see the rear head rests, the rear pillars and all sorts of other things that block your vision. In the CT6, the interior rearview mirror is a camera — so you see none of that stuff. It’s disorienting at first, but it’s a great idea once you get the hang of it.
In the end, the CT6 is a highly competent sedan in a world that is slowly rejecting sedans — and while I strongly recommend it for anyone looking for a nice, high-quality, comfortable luxury sedan, even the Cadillac dealer I visited told me the vast majority of people walking through the door are buying an XT5 crossover or an Escalade SUV. With that in mind, I hope Super Cruise trickles down to other Cadillac products, because it’s an excellent feature, and it feels like the future — at least, if you’re on a mapped road, the weather is clear and you’re paying attention to traffic ahead. Hey, it’s a start.
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.