Nissan’s New ProPILOT Assist is a glimpse into the automotive future

Going Rogue 

Nissan’s New ProPILOT Assist is a glimpse into the automotive future.

By Becky Antioco

The 2018 Nissan Rogue is a popular crossover vehicle, and for good reason. It’s attractive, roomy (one of the only crossovers of its size to offer a third row of seats), with available all-wheel drive, and has adequate comfort, technology features, and power to satisfy as a daily driver, a people hauler, in the carpool, or on a road trip. The addition of Nissan’s new ProPILOT Assist technology, also available on the all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf, moves Rogue into semi-autonomous territory previously occupied only by luxury vehicles costing thousands more.

Here’s how the system differs from traditional lane-keep assist. With most others, when you begin to drift, or attempt to change lanes without signaling, there will be some manner of lane-departure alert (audible and/or visual), and lane-keep assist will gently (or aggressively, depending on the system), nudge you back into your lane. Drift too much, and you get a ping-pong effect to keep the vehicle between the lane markers. ProPILOT assist does more than that, keeping the vehicle centered in your lane, even on curving roads, and modulating speed according to driver-set parameters.

Nissan stresses that ProPILOT is not a self-driving system, but a hands-on driver-assist feature that requires engagement at all times. Indeed, as the driver, you determine your desired speed and preferable distance between vehicles, and engage the system with the push of a button. Using a camera, radar, sensors, and an electronic control module, ProPILOT responds accordingly.

I tested the system on the Rogue and came away impressed. My family grew weary of my excited exclamations of, “Look! I’m hardly touching the steering wheel!” You won’t get away with taking your hands off the wheel for too long, however. An alert will flash on the dash, instructing you to grip the steering wheel tighter, and if you don’t comply, the system will beep before gently applying the brakes. If the torque sensor still doesn’t detect any pressure on the steering wheel, the emergency hazard lights will come on, and the car will slow to a complete stop.

The system will alert you and cancel in inclement weather (when the windshield wipers are in low or high mode), or if the lane markers become unclear. Whatever the conditions, driver input always takes priority, and ProPILOT disengages when the brakes are applied, much like a traditional cruise-control system.

Many believe that we are moving toward a future where autonomous vehicles will be the norm. Nissan’s ProPILOT is certainly a step in that direction, but offers a nice balance of mitigating fatigue by assisting with braking and steering, while still relying on driver input to create a confident driving experience.

The Rogue is an excellent crossover to begin with, but add Nissan’s new ProPILOT Assist technology, and you have a vehicle that stands out in a crowded segment of worthy competitors.

 

VITAL STATS

Price: $36,520 (SL trim level with all-wheel drive and ProPILOT Assist)

Fuel economy (city/highway/combined miles per gallon): 25/32/27

What I love: Forward-thinking semi-autonomous features that still keep you in the driver’s seat.

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