A road trip with Nissan ProPilot Assist
By Joel Stocksdale
We’ve had a bit of experience with the Nissan ProPilot Assist system here at Autoblog. I was the first to try it out with a Rogue prototype during a press test drive, and we later got one to test for the 2018 Tech of the Year award. In each instance it managed to impress us with its ease of use and general effectiveness. It did so enough to merit a spot as a Tech of the Year finalist.
However, every experience we had with the technology was fairly brief, with only short highway jaunts to demonstrate how it works. Long highway jaunts is really what ProPilot is meant for, so to find out just how helpful it is, I drove a 2018 Rogue equipped with its new ProPilot Assist option to the Chicago Auto Show.
Overall, ProPilot Assist really is a boon for long-haul drives. It all comes down to how it takes care of the minute corrections and adjustments that have to be made on highways. There are always some imperfections, wind, changing road markings or minuscule curves that demand input from the driver to stay centered and on-course. They don’t seem like they would be that taxing, but over the course of three, four, even five hours, to say nothing of the 13-hour journeys I did in college, it adds up fast.
ProPilot Assist handles all that for you, keeping the car centered, even through mild highway curves. It became so effective on straight sections that I relaxed my hand to the point the steering wheel no longer detected my presence and the car warned me to put my hand back on the wheel. And yes, like other adaptive cruise control systems with steering assist, ProPilot Assist does make you commit to this token gesture of control.
For good reason, too. There are times that the system starts to get a little too close to one side or the other. And of course, there are some turns in which the car doesn’t turn enough to stay in the lane and needs additional driver input. This is why you’re required to keep a hand on the wheel, and why you have to still pay attention. Yet, keeping a guiding hand in place for minor corrections is less tiring than doing the job entirely yourself. As I discovered, I arrived in Chicago feeling more relaxed, less tired, and generally comfortable than I would’ve expected in a regular do-it-yourself car.
The other thing that’s great about ProPilot is that it’s still so easy to use. Provided that you have the steering assist setting on, it comes on when setting the cruise control. It starts handling the steering as soon as it recognizes the lane markings, which only takes a few seconds. When you want it to stop, just switch off your cruise control. And if you want just cruise control without ProPilot steering assist, simply press the button on the dash with a little steering wheel icon.
One caveat regarding ProPilot is that although it’s a great feature that works well, the 2018 Rogue it’s attached to is not the strongest crossover SUV. It has a comfortable ride and plenty of space, but when I was actually operating the steering, I found it dead and oddly weighted. The engine is also fairly coarse and the handling is lackluster. Yet, if I was staring down constant long trips or daily stop-and-go gridlock, it might be easy to forgive those shortcomings for ProPilot Assist.