Although the updated late-model year 2022 GMC Sierra is still a little ways off (In fact, it hasn’t even been revealed), we’ve had an opportunity to try one of its headlining features: Super Cruise. But it’s not quite the Super Cruise you know from the current Cadillac line. The new Sierra will be getting a newer version with two features: the ability to execute lane changes and passes automatically, and the ability to operate with a trailer.
We tried the system at GM’s proving grounds in Milford, Mich., and our test vehicles were 2022 Sierra prototypes. Though the trucks themselves are early examples with features not finalized, GMC representatives said the Super Cruise system is pretty much finished. The system uses close and long-range radar sensors at the front and a new set of radar sensors at the back, plus the truck’s various cameras. It also utilizes the mapping data that GM has accumulated for the system to ensure it operates on approved roads and has detailed information about where the car is.
Now, the first new feature enabled by the updated Super Cruise is the automatic lane-change system. The current system can change lanes on its own, but it must be prompted by a press of the turn signal. That feature remains intact, but now, if you approach a slower vehicle on a multi-lane highway, Super Cruise can check the lane next to you to see if it’s safe to merge, change lanes, and then return to the original lane once the slow-moving vehicle has been passed. This is where those rear radar sensors come in. We tried it three times on GM’s big banked oval course, and it did it impressively smoothly. It was able to make the decision proactively, too, making the decision to change a good distance before we were on top of the slow moving car. Oh, and of course, because this is Super Cruise, it all happened without us having to touch the wheel.
Our automatic lane change test was followed by trying Super Cruise with a trailer. Now, it’s important to note that the automatic lane-changing functionality won’t work with a trailer. This is because that function depends on a set of radar systems at the back of the truck that are blocked by a trailer. Apart from that, the rest of Super Cruise’s functions still work just fine. To make this possible (and safe), the system is able to estimate the weight of the trailer and adjust following distance accordingly, allowing it to safely slow down as needed. It also adjusts the curve trajectory of the truck to be slightly wider than normal. This is to make sure the trailer doesn’t dip into the inside lane in a sweeping turn. And in practice, it feels just like Super Cruise without a trailer. It’s smooth, confident, and hands-free. Of course in both situations, you do have to keep paying attention to the road, and the face and eye-tracking system is quite vigilant, kicking off the system if you look away too long.
The updated Super Cruise will be released on the also-updated GMC Sierra Denali (exclusively at launch) late in the 2022 model year. This new version of Super Cruise will also be available on GMC Hummer EV models.