Adaptive cruise control is so 2020. It’s the price of entry for vehicles above a certain price point, and indeed every trim level of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L gets this advanced driver assistance feature. To really wow buyers, automakers must offer a hands-free system like GM’s Super Cruise or Ford’s BlueCruise, the latter of which is just rolling out. With the launch of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, most of the pieces of Stellantis’ answer to these systems are in place by way of the automaker’s new Active Driving Assist feature, but the full hands-free variant is still some months off.
How Active Driving Assist Works
What separates Active Driving Assist from plain old adaptive cruise control is a more sophisticated sensor suite that involves cameras that inform the various other ADAS systems, as well as three forward-looking and two-rear-facing radar units. The system also uses a predictive algorithm to infer the intended direction of travel and to keep the vehicle centered in the lane. But in 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L models equipped with the feature, you’ll have to keep a hand on the wheel.
Capacitive Touch Steering Wheel
Using a capacitive-touch steering wheel allows the system to much more accurately detect when the driver physically has a hand on the wheel and not, for example, just a sock full of quarters draped over one spoke to simulate a thumb. For now, Active Driving Assist is simply adaptive cruise with vastly better lane centering, and it works on most roads with robust lane markings.
Take your hands off the wheel for too long and the green instrument cluster surround glow will turn yellow. If you still fail to grab the wheel, it will glow red and then the system will stab the brakes suddenly to wake you up. If you still don’t grab the wheel, it will park the vehicle.
Here, There, Not Everywhere
In 2022, when the driver monitor cameras of so-equipped Grand Cherokee Ls become active and allow for Hands-Free Active Driving Assist to come online, the Stellantis system will surely work very much like GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s BlueCruise. Extended hands-free cruising will be permitted for as long as the driver keeps their attention focused on the road ahead.
This system will also work only on approved limited-access highways. We’ll be eager to learn how Stellantis’ approved road network compares to GM’s and Ford’s, which as of this writing comprise “more than” 200,000 and 100,000 miles of limited-access highways, respectively.
New Electrical Architecture Supports ADAS
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L boasts a new electrical architecture that involves 81 control modules and three power distribution centers. It communicates across three disparate networks: ethernet, CAN, and CAN FD. The last one stands for “controller area network for flexible data.” CAN FD sends message packets, and can handle multiple messages simultaneously, as required for active driving assist systems.
How Much Will Active Driving Assist Cost?
Today’s hands-on system comes standard on top-of-the-line Grand Cherokee L Summit. It’s also available as part of the $1,995 Advanced Protech Group III package on Overland models, which also includes the likes of an integrated off-road camera, surround-view camera system, head-up display, rear backup-camera washer, map-in-cluster display, intersection collision assist system, highway assist system, interior rear-facing camera, and night vision with pedestrian and animal detection.
Of course, choosing this option also forces the selection of the $1,995 Luxury Tech Group IV package (four-zone climate control, front 12-way massaging power seats with memory, second-row manual window shades, wireless charging pad, rearview auto-dim digital display mirror), so adding the system to a 2021 Grand Cherokee L Overland is a pricey affair. We expect Hands-Free Active Driving Assist to be broken out as a stand-alone feature when it comes online next year, probably priced at least as much as Ford charges for Co-Pilot360 with BlueCruise on the Mustang Mach-E ($1,900) or Chevy charges for Super Cruise on the Bolt EUV ($2,200).