Mazda Still Has a Long Way to Go With a Pivotal Technology for the Future

Alex Healey
· 3 min read
Over the last 20 years,
has worked hard to overcome concerns about resale value and engine life, becoming one of the
most reliable and trusted automakers
in the U.S. They are also one of the
cheapest brands to insure
However, a recent study by Consumer Reports suggests Mazda's foray into driving assistance technology is not going well. Out of 17 systems tested, Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE finished bottom of the pile.
Mazda’s driving assistance technology is a little behind the rest of the industry.

What is driving assistance technology?

Driving assistance is an early iteration of autonomous driving technology, something that all major automakers are working on. It is not the same as having a self-driving car, but when activated, it can support the operator by automating some aspects of driving.
A well-designed system can handle highway driving by keeping your vehicle in the center of the lane, and will manage your speed, maintaining a safe distance from the vehicles around you.
When used correctly, these features should reduce driver fatigue on long roadtrips or in stop and go traffic, as the driver is able to take their hands off the wheel and foot off the pedal.
It is important to note, drivers are always responsible for safe operation of their vehicle, and should still have eyes on the road at all times.
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What did the Consumer Reports study look into?

Consumer Reports
study assessed the lane keeping ability and adaptive cruise control of 17 driving assistance systems. Almost all major auto brands were included.
The study looked at how each of the 17 systems performed in five specific areas: capability and performance, keeping the driver engaged, ease of use, clear when safe to use, and unresponsive driver.
Mazda’s offering, i-ACTIVSENSE, came last in four of the five categories, and received the lowest overall score.
Somewhat surprisingly,
Cadillac’s Super Cruise
performed best in testing, with Tesla not far behind. They are far from perfect though, with Tesla's Autopilot blamed for a
deadly crash in Houston
earlier this year.

Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE technology comes under fire

Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE received an overall score of 27/100, making it the worst ranked tech in the study. Here’s how it fared in each category:
  • Capabilities and performance 3/10 (joint worst rank)
  • Keeping the driver engaged 2/10 (worst rank)
  • Ease of use 5/10 (mid rank)
  • Clear when safe to use 2/10 (joint worst rank)
  • Unresponsive driver 1/10 (worst rank)
Mazda’s system was criticized for failing to keep the vehicle in the center of the lane, only attempting to assist the driver once the car began drifting. Consumer Reports found it is not capable of keeping the vehicle between lane lines, even on straight roads.
Another flaw is that i-ACTIVSENSE doesn’t have clear warnings to the driver to pay attention, and it frequently goes into standby mode without an audible warning. This means it is easy to drive off the road if the operator is distracted.

In Mazda’s defense

When Consumer Reports requested a comment from Mazda, they explained that their lane keeping assistance is not designed to keep the vehicle centered. Further, it doesn’t believe i-ACTIVSENSE even met the criteria to be included in the study.
Mazda clearly feels unfairly criticized, but with driving assistance technology the way of the very near future, it has some catching up to do. Consumers are still adjusting to automated driving, but Mazda won’t want to be left behind as their competitors continue to evolve.
The good news for Mazda is that almost its entire lineup appeared on the
2021 list of safest SUVs
, and sales have been excellent,
even during the pandemic
when most rival brands saw a decline. They have a lot of goodwill among American buyers.

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