Ford has begun rolling out the latest version of its hands-free advanced driver assist system (ADAS), BlueCruise 1.2, and so far the reviews have been mostly favorable. We asked and were granted the loan of a 2023 Mustang Mach-E, equipped with BlueCruise 1.2, so we could test out the system ourselves.
After spending a week in the Mustang Mach-E, covering roughly 1,000 miles, including conducting the InsideEVs 70 mph range test, we noticed a substantial improvement over BlueCruise 1.0. The improvements weren’t limited to the new features, but also to how well the Mustang Mach-E maintained its position in the lane, reducing the amount of lane wandering (sometimes called “ping-ponging”) that we observed with BlueCruise 1.0.
Ford BlueCruise 1.2 with Lane Change Assist
Hands-free with driver monitoring
Ford’s BlueCruise is a hands-free highway driving assist system. It relies on highway mapping and cannot operate in hands-free mode on roads that aren’t pre-mapped. Currently, Ford has over 100,000 miles of pre-mapped highways in the US and is adding more miles of highways for the “Hands-Free Blue Zone” every month.
The system has cameras that monitor the driver’s eyes to make sure they are focused on the road. We tested this out on multiple occasions and the monitoring was very effective, even when we gradually closed our eyes to simulate if someone was slowly falling asleep, and the system never failed to offer its audible and visual alerts to watch the road.
There are five levels of autonomy as established by the Society of Automotive Engineers and Ford’s BlueCruise is considered a level 2 ADAS. Level 2 ADAS systems require the driver to stay focused on the road and be prepared to intervene at all times.
Currently, Mercedes is the only car manufacturer to have a level 3-certified vehicle on the road in North America.
Lane Change Assist
In addition to improving the existing system, BlueCruise 1.2 adds three new features. The first, and most noticeable, is Lane Change Assist.
Lane Change Assist allows the vehicle to execute a lane change on its own while driving in hands-free mode. As long as it’s safe to do so, the driver simply needs to use the turn signal to let the system know what lane they want to enter, and BlueCruise will do the rest.
We found Lane Change Assist to work extremely well. The lane changes were smooth and mimicked how a human would execute a lane change. If the system detects that there isn’t enough room to safely execute the lane change it will cancel the request and display not possible after about ten seconds.
We also liked how BlueCruise accelerated into the new lane, as a human often would. Not all the systems we’ve tested that offer lane changing seemed to have that dialed in as properly as BlueCruise does. The system will also suggest a lane change when the vehicle in front of you is moving slower than your set speed in and if the traffic in neighboring lanes is moving faster. It’s only a suggestion though, and will not make an automatic lane change on its own as GM’s Super Cruise can.
Predictive Speed Assist
Another new addition to BlueCruise 1.2 is Predictive Speed Assist. With predictive speed assist, BlueCruise will adjust the speed downward if it detects the curve in the road is too sharp for the speed the vehicle is currently traveling at.
This feature will most likely be the least used of the new additions to BlueCruise, but can make for a safer hands-free driving experience at highway speeds. We’ve noticed with BlueCruise 1.0 that the system will often notify the driver they need to engage the steering wheel when traveling on highways and a curve in the road is approaching.
Predictive speed assist knows when the vehicle is approaching a curve, because it has the mapping information, and will decide if it can continue in hands-free mode at the same speed, or if it needs to slow down a little until the curve is completed.
Ford BlueCruise 1.2 introduces three new features
The third new feature in BlueCruise 1.2 is In-Lane Repositioning. In-lane repositioning will automatically scoot the vehicle over to the other side of the lane when it detects another vehicle approaching too close for comfort next to you. You remain in your lane, but instead of the usual lane centering, the vehicle slides over to allow a few more feet of space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you that’s encroaching on your lane.
We were quite surprised at how well this worked, and how often the system employs in-lane repositioning. It didn’t just do it for large vehicles, like tractor-trailers, it also executed the maneuver when a passenger vehicle wandered a little too close you the lane we were driving in.
BlueCruise 1.2 improves upon an already very good driver assist system which was recently rated the best ADAS by Consumer Reports. In-lane wandering, our biggest complaint with BlueCruise 1.0, seems to have been nearly eliminated with BlueCruise 1.2, and the addition of the three new features, particularly lane change assist, makes the system even better.
The New 2023 Mustang Mach-E with the BlueCruise options has 1.2 installed in the vehicle and existing Mach-E vehicles will begin to receive 1.2 through an OTA update soon.
We do have to note, however, that we encounter one troubling potential issue. One night when we were entering a construction zone and our lane was being closed, the system failed to recognize that and issued no warnings whatsoever. The vehicle was about to drive directly into a barrier in hands-free driving mode before we grabbed the steering wheel and quickly maneuvered to the lane to our right.
We understand that situation isn’t one that BlueCruise should be able to negotiate on its own, and why the driver needs to be alert and ready to assume control of the vehicle. But in that instance, we would expect the vehicle to offer audible and visual warnings as we approached the obstruction in the lane, and that simply didn’t happen.