What is Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)?

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is an intelligent driver assistance feature that works as an enhancement to traditional cruise control. Using a system of advanced sensors such as radar and cameras, ACC determines the speed and conditions of surrounding traffic and automatically adjusts cruising speed to maintain a safe distance within the flow of traffic. Many ACC systems can also recognize sudden changes in traffic conditions and alert the driver to take action to prevent a crash. 

Depending on vehicle manufacturer and the system itself, any number of other terms might be used interchangeably with Adaptive Cruise Control, including: 

  • Active Cruise Control
  • Dynamic Cruise Control
  • Automatic Cruise Control
  • Intelligent Cruise Control
  • Smart Cruise Control
  • Radar Cruise Control

How does Adaptive Cruise Control Work?

ACC uses a set of intelligent sensors including radar, lidar, lasers, GPS, and cameras. These sensors are placed around a vehicle’s exterior to monitor the road and nearby vehicles. Gathering real-time data on the distance away and speed of the vehicle in front, these sensors allow the ACC system to adjust the car’s speed as-needed. Typically, the driver sets their desired cruising speed when they engage ACC on the highway. The system then automatically accelerates and decelerates to stay at a safe distance from other cars within the flow of traffic. 

Much like using traditional cruise control, activating ACC is intentionally simple so that a driver can easily use it while keeping their eyes safely on the road. Generally, the dedicated ACC button or switch is located on the steering wheel or control panel. Pressing or toggling this mechanism allows the driver to set their initial cruising speed. In some systems, drivers can also set their desired following distance. 

While operating, certain ACC systems can take extra measures for safety and convenience purposes:

  • Maintaining a particular distance from vehicles ahead
  • Making complete stops in traffic and restarting from a complete stop when traffic resumes
  • Remaining engaged at low speeds in city traffic
  • Anticipating and automatically slowing around upcoming curves
  • Adjusting to posted speed limits as they change

Once in operation, the ACC system remains working until the driver disengages by either pressing the brake pedal or manually deactivating the system using the dedicated switch or button. Sometimes, ACC will use visual and audio cues to alert the driver to brake if it detects a possible collision ahead. In these instances, the driver must then re-engage the system once traffic resumes.

Benefits of Adaptive Cruise Control

Some of the benefits of adaptive cruise control include creating a more relaxed driving experience, particularly during long road trips and on highways, thanks to the system’s ability to adjust automatically to traffic speed variations and road conditions. Additionally, ACC encourages safe driving practices and helps reduce crash risk by monitoring following distance and alerting the driver or intervening if a vehicle is quickly approaching. Drivers using ACC may also see improved fuel efficiency, especially on the highway, since the system helps maintain an even speed and reduces unnecessary acceleration and braking.

Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control in Subaru Vehicles

The Subaru application of ACC is known as Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control. This feature functions seamlessly as part of our EyeSight® Driver Assist technology—a comprehensive suite of safety features designed to enhance the driving experience. Nearly all Subaru models and trims come standard with EyeSight and Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control, including some of our most popular models like the Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and Impreza. EyeSight is an available feature on our performance sports models with automatic transmissions, including the WRX and the BRZ, as well as those with manual transmissions. 

Complementing its active cruise control functionality, EyeSight includes additional advanced features including Pre-Collision Braking and Throttle Management, Automatic Emergency Steering, Lane Centering, and Lane Departure Assist designed to help keep drivers safer. In particular, Lane Departure Assist and Lane Centering monitor lane markings and can help assist drivers with steering to avoid accidental drifting into another lane. The advanced ACC sensors can also recognize another driver approaching and adjust your vehicle’s placement within the lane to create a safer distance on all sides. 

Read more about our EyeSight technology.

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Advanced adaptive cruise control is a useful feature that can help make driving easier, smoother, and safer. Explore Subaru Vehicles equipped with the full suite of EyeSight features today!