Adaptive Cruise Control while towing? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 05-12-2016, 04:14 PM   #1
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Adaptive Cruise Control while towing?

Recent discussion of using cruise control while towing in the "I am a happy camper!" thread reminded me that I wanted to hear other's opinions on using adaptive cruise control (ACC) while towing.

On our 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the adaptive cruise control will maintain the set speed, unless a vehicle ahead is going slower, then it will maintain a set distance behind that vehicle, even applying the brakes if necessary. (Our instructor from the Valley Driving School was quite interested in checking out these capabilities, he seemed impressed.)

The distance behind the car ahead can be adjusted, but the maximum distance corresponds to about 2 seconds separation at highway speeds. This is less than the 3 seconds recommended by AARP Over 55 safe driving classes, but the electronics respond faster than I do, so it may be closely equivalent. Of course, this is much less than the 4-5 second separation from the vehicle ahead that I've seen recommended while towing, but that's only possible in light traffic when there are fewer idiots to pull right in front of semis or RVs. I suspect that the engineers didn't design in greater distances because it must be difficult then to only respond to vehicles in your lane on multi-lane roads, or to maintain the distance around curves.

I personally feel comfortable towing with ACC. It is smart enough to not slow if a faster car pulls in ahead of me, but will immediately slow if a slower car pulls in ahead, or if the vehicle ahead slows. I feel it is essential for me to watch several vehicles ahead, so I can manually brake to gently avoid problems with a slowing ahead, rather than waiting for the ACC to slam on the brakes when the vehicle ahead finally slows. I try to watch several cars ahead anyway, but with the ACC it's even more important, because I'm likely to be following closer than I would be on my own.

The Jeep manual has two warnings that I especially noted. The ACC cannot be trusted to see pedestrians (not sure about motorcycles, it probable wouldn't see a bicyclist), and it shouldn't be used while towing on steep slopes.

The hi-tech safety package also warns about cars in the Jeep's blind spot with a blinking arrow, and when I use the turn signal, it will beep if there is a vehicle on that side. This is especially helpful with a high-sided truck or SUV, like the Jeep, we really like it. Of course this system doesn't know the the vehicle always "tail-gating" us is our trailer and won't warn us about vehicles beside it; but our towing mirrors will show such vehicles.

This seems to be still a long ways from a self-driving car, but that capability is approaching amazingly quickly. I'll be waiting expectantly for the second (third, fourth, ...) generation that can back a trailer on its own.

Art
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Old 05-12-2016, 04:50 PM   #2
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As you have stated, one must still be in control of the vehicle at all times. What cruise control does is maintain a speed within a few mph either way. You are still steering and watching what is ahead and what is behind you. It is not like auto pilot on a plane or a boat which essentially does everything. So I would say there is really no difference between towing with adaptive CC than with non-adaptive CC. If you are doing what you should be doing behind the wheel, the added features of adaptive CC would ideally never come into play.
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Old 05-12-2016, 05:46 PM   #3
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If the Jeep system is really fixed at a two-second following distance, it's pretty bad. That should be an adjustable parameter, and it is with other manufacturers. I would not consider using that close spacing while towing.

I do understand the appeal of this system, but I really dislike the idea that if my the system is regulating to a lower speed than my target setting due to traffic, then the vehicle ahead accelerates, that driver is dictating my speed and rate of acceleration - no thanks.

I'm sure some incompetent and/or inattentive drivers have been caught by this sort of system: if they are stuck behind traffic for a while - lets say at 80 km/h (50 mph) with a target speed setting of 120 km/h (75 mph) - and they lane change into an opening, the vehicle is then going to accelerate at high power... and they may not be ready for this.

I have no problem with some degree of automation of tedious tasks, but many of these features (especially adaptive cruise control and lane following) encourage the driver to "tune out" of their critical job and be unprepared to manage potentially dangerous events. I don't need adaptive cruise control: if I am using cruise and encounter slower traffic, I decrease my speed setting or go back to manual control of my speed, since I am paying attention to what I am doing.
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Old 05-12-2016, 05:49 PM   #4
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As you have stated, one must still be in control of the vehicle at all times.
Absolutely!

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Originally Posted by C&G in FL View Post
If you are doing what you should be doing behind the wheel, the added features of adaptive CC would ideally never come into play.
Or they would do the same thing that you would do, by changing the cruise speed setting.
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:00 PM   #5
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If the Jeep system is really fixed at a two-second following distance, it's pretty bad. That should be an adjustable parameter, and it is with other manufacturers. I would not consider using that close spacing while towing.
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The Jeep system is adjustable – to shorter distances! I don't know what following distances are available from other manufacturer's.
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Old 05-13-2016, 12:34 AM   #6
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The Jeep system is adjustable – to shorter distances! I don't know what following distances are available from other manufacturer's.
Shorter!

I checked the manual for my dozen-year-old Toyota Sienna. It doesn't have adaptive cruise control, but fancier versions of the Sienna do. It doesn't express following spacing in time, just as "short", "medium", and "long'; however, distance is varied with speed and "long" is 75 metres at 88 km/h (55mph), which is about three seconds. It's not entirely clear whether higher speeds would stretch the distance further, and that's longer than the Jeep's longest, but that's still not long enough for me with a trailer in tow.
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Old 05-13-2016, 07:58 AM   #7
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Unless traffic is very busy, and I have my complete attention focused on driving, I much prefer to keep a lot more than a 3 second gap when towing. Actually, I even prefer it not towing as well. As much as I like using cruise control, the adaptive type does not seem like something I would like for towing.

The only thing I don't like about maintaining this safe distance, is the A-holes who feel that they must cut into the gap I leave.
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Old 05-13-2016, 08:32 AM   #8
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The whole marketing hype for adaptive cruise control is that, among other things, it will apply the brakes to avoid a rear end collision. Or in other words, "protect" an inattentive driver. If CC is in use, it is NOT an excuse for the driver to be any less cautious. And as Jim stated, the roads are loaded with drivers who see your 2 or 3 second gap as a place to cut into traffic.
On another note, in the future, when all vehicles are self-driving, technology will be able to eliminate speeding, red light violations, aggressive driving, etc. The municipalities will have to find ways to raise revenue other than bogus speed traps. LOL
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Old 05-13-2016, 09:22 AM   #9
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The municipalities will have to find ways to raise revenue other than bogus speed traps. LOL
No more cash cow with the photo radar and red light cameras.
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Old 05-13-2016, 09:54 AM   #10
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I doubt if the ACC can compensate for the added weight towing as well as the lack of trailer brakes while slowing you down.
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Old 05-13-2016, 10:43 AM   #11
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From what I was told by my local Ford dealership, if you have the Ford trailer brake controller and ACC, the trailer brakes will be applied when the ACC applies the vehicles brakes. I still didn't opt for ACC......rather expensive.
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Old 05-13-2016, 11:07 AM   #12
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The only thing I don't like about maintaining this safe distance, is the A-holes who feel that they must cut into the gap I leave.
My least favorite thing about driving in city traffic.
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Old 05-13-2016, 02:19 PM   #13
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I doubt if the ACC can compensate for the added weight towing as well as the lack of trailer brakes while slowing you down.
If the cruise control actually applies the brakes, it should turn on the stop lamps (brake lights), and so your trailer brakes (which all Escapes have) will be active.

If slowing by just reducing power, I think most vehicles will decelerate more sharply when towing a barn-door sized anchor than without it... unless perhaps going downhill.
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Old 05-13-2016, 02:44 PM   #14
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The only thing I don't like about maintaining this safe distance, is the A-holes who feel that they must cut into the gap I leave.
An AARP Safe Driver instructor suggested that we calculate how much those idiots actually slow us down – a dozen crowding into a 5 second gap slow me by no more than 1 minute, which usually doesn't really matter to me. Of course, I'm not always successful in talking reason to my emotions.

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Old 05-13-2016, 03:17 PM   #15
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The only thing I don't like about maintaining this safe distance, is the A-holes who feel that they must cut into the gap I leave.
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Originally Posted by Art M. View Post
An AARP Safe Driver instructor suggested that we calculate how much those idiots actually slow us down – a dozen crowding into a 5 second gap slow me by no more than 1 minute, which usually doesn't really matter to me.
It isn't just the bit of time we are pushed back; it's the loss of safe separation, until you have time to re-establish enough space. Adaptive cruise control would automatically restore the amount of space for which it is set, but it still takes time during which you are too close.
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Old 05-13-2016, 08:03 PM   #16
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I like it on the interstates

I also had a Jeep Grand Cherokee (assassinated last week by an oncoming tire which fell off a trailer going the other way, but that is another story).

I didn't use the ACC to avoid watching the traffic in front of me rather to avoid having to constantly override the cruise control because the vehicle in front of wasn't using THEIR cruise control and varied their speed by 10 MPH or so. Also, cruise control is much better than me to remember not to exceed my target speed.
Living in Idaho, it is often 100 miles or more between towns and my foot tends to get heavier.

That said, I too would like to be able to set the following distance to more than the Jeep currently allows.
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Old 08-18-2016, 11:56 PM   #17
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After another 10k miles of towing, I really like the adaptive cruise control. I now tweak the speed so that I'm several car lengths behind the other car, which works best if they are also using cruise control, or are unusually skilled in maintaining a constant speed. It then partially protects me against momentary lapses in my attention that coincide with the car ahead slowing.
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Old 07-10-2017, 08:13 AM   #18
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Buddy of mine says the manual on his late model Toyota Tundra specifically prohibits use of the ACC when towing as it interferes, somehow, with some of the other adaptive controls. He didn't provide more detail.
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Old 07-10-2017, 08:31 AM   #19
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Buddy of mine says the manual on his late model Toyota Tundra specifically prohibits use of the ACC when towing as it interferes, somehow, with some of the other adaptive controls. He didn't provide more detail.
That's interesting. On the Ford it's actually touted for use while towing. The idea being, it knows you're towing and automatically compensates in acceleration and braking so there is less speed fluctuation on up and down roads.

Perhaps different manufacturers have different definitions for "adaptive", and how it works.
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Old 07-10-2017, 08:45 AM   #20
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Buddy of mine says the manual on his late model Toyota Tundra specifically prohibits use of the ACC when towing as it interferes, somehow, with some of the other adaptive controls. He didn't provide more detail.
I would think if Toyota insisted it not be used, that it would be disabled when you connect to a trailer. I would like to hear their reasons why.
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