Adaptive Cruise Control: What Is it and How Does It Work?

When shopping around for new or used vehicles, you’ll hear a lot of terms and phrases that are unfamiliar to you. One such term is “adaptive cruise control.” A dealer may say this term with confidence and like it is the ultimate selling point of a vehicle in which you’re interested, but, if you’re like most shoppers, it means nothing to you. Before you fall for a lengthy pitch on all the benefits of a new car model, educate yourself on what each term means and whether or not it’s really worth the extra cost.

What Is Adaptive Cruise Control?

Adaptive cruise control refers to an updated, more intelligent version of the standard cruise control. As the driver, you can set the speed at which you would like to cruise. Your vehicle will maintain that speed in most situations; however, unlike standard cruise control, your vehicle’s sensors will watch for traffic ahead. If a vehicle is directly in front of you, the sensors will then instruct your car to stay two, three or four seconds behind it, depending on how fast you’re going. In newer makes and models, ACC is almost always paired with pre-crash auto braking. 

How Can You Use ACC?

To use your vehicle’s active cruise control system, you would begin the same as you would with standard cruise control. Click the ACC’s “on” button, set the desired speed and then hit “Set.” You can then tweak your cruising speed by using the “+” or “-” indicators. Beyond that, however, the ACC controls are different than standard cruise control.

With ACC, you must then set the desired gap distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you. This comes particularly in handy when you’re in stop-and-go traffic or driving on city streets. How you do this depends on the make and model of the vehicle.

How Much Does Adaptive Cruise Control Cost?

ACC is an added feature, just like automatic windows or heated seating. As an extra, you’ll have to pay a bit more for it. How much more depends on the type of vehicle you want to buy. That said, you can expect to pay at least $2,000 more for this advanced feature.