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It’s 2024. That means artificial intelligence (AI), planned habitats on the moon, and “The Fast and the Furious” films in the double digits. Hell, science fiction movies from the 1980s and 1990s predicted we’d be dead or desperately combatting sentient robots by now. However, not everything is on autopilot; adaptive cruise control (ACC) is some of the closest technology you’ll get to a fire-and-forget autonomous automobile in 2024. So, is it worth it?

Adaptive cruise control maintains a safe following distance and speed to take the guesswork out of highway cruising

Radar-guided cruise control, intelligent cruise control, active cruise control. You’ve heard the various terminology. However, they all mean something of the same thing: a technology suite that maintains speed and following distance with the vehicle ahead. 

It might seem like a novelty flex you can bring up smugly to a buddy. However, it has its benefits. For instance, if you’ve done any extended highway driving, adaptive cruise control could be quite helpful. I’ve done the drive between Austin, Texas, and Louisville, Kentucky more than most. It’s a nice, round number– just over 1,000 miles from door to door. 

A red 2024 Ford Mustang Convertible, a GT drop-top with adaptive cruise control, parks next to a coastline.
2024 Ford Mustang Convertible with AAC | Ford

During those drives, my wife finds herself, at times, frustrated by the inconsistency of drivers’ speeds on the open American highway system. She’ll set a speed in cruise control, drive for a bit, and have to cancel or discontinue cruise control to overtake a vehicle. Well, if that sounds like a frustration you know all too well, adaptive cruise control could be the solution. Frankly, if you’re distracted (and don’t be that person), an adaptive system could be the difference between safe cruising and a crash

The intelligent cruise control systems use sensory equipment to take the adjustments out of drivers’ hands

With ACC, a vehicle will use sensory equipment like lasers, a radar system, or cameras to detect a vehicle ahead. As such, the suite will adjust vehicle speed and following distance to provide a comfortable cruise. 

Fortunately, it’s 2024. That means several cars offer adaptive cruise control as part of a driver-aid suite. And it’s not just posh luxury cars, either.

The 2024 Ford Mustang offers ACC as part of the Ford Co-Pilot 360 suite. In addition to Ford’s seventh-generation pony car, the 2024 Nissan Z and Subaru BRZ have adaptive cruise control functions on their options sheets. Of course, ACC doesn’t give you carte blanche to be a distracted clown on our shared highways. Pay attention when driving, even with adaptive cruise control.