How Well Does Ford’s BlueCruise Hands-Free Driving System Work? When we first bought the Best of 2021 award-winning Ford F-150 Limited Hybrid, one of the must-have features was the hardware for BlueCruise, Ford’s hands-free drive system. Unfortunately, it took over a year for our truck to receive the software update needed to activate BlueCruise, but we finally got it last month.
How Well Does Ford’s BlueCruise Hands-Free Driving System Work?
For those who don’t know, BlueCruise uses a combination of cameras and radar to keep the vehicle centered in its lane, a set distance from vehicles in front of you, and on some pre-designated stretches of divided highways, allowing the driver to take their hands off the road. The entire steering wheel. For the F-150, the well-equipped Limited model, a $1,995 option in King Ranch, Platinum, and certain versions of Tremor and Lariat are included in the package (additional options may be required). The BlueCruise is also standard or available on certain Mustang Mach-E trims, but orders are currently closed for the 2022 model and not yet open for 2023. As of now, on the F-150, the BlueCruise does not remain active while driving – the route change initiated, It also does not change this lane automatically, unlike the latest version of, for example.
During my road trip I used BlueCruise whenever I could – within my comfort level. I haven’t used it on busier stretches of road – particularly those in and around Chicago – where I don’t usually use cruise control. Otherwise, enable BlueCruise and use it whenever possible. However, due to the route I took, it wasn’t always available.
The most impressive thing about BlueCruise was how tired I felt at the end of my ride. Road trips can be stressful, especially when the scenery isn’t pleasant, and having done this trip several times before, I expected to feel as tired as I usually did when I got to my destination. Instead, I felt like I drove a much shorter distance.
Another positive aspect of BlueCruise is that it still worked when I was wearing sunglasses with mirrored lenses. Since the system uses cameras to make sure the driver is paying attention, I expected these sunglasses to cause more of the problem. However, BlueCruise sometimes still throws up warnings (wrong, in my opinion) to keep my eye on the road, but overall it seems to be doing a good job of figuring out where I’m looking.
BlueCruise’s offerings are also intuitive and informative. The color-coded dashboard display indicates when BlueCruise is active, making it easy to tell when it’s on, and the warnings are easy to understand, too. I also don’t think BlueCruise has done a bad job dealing with lane anomalies, although there are no obvious reasons why they sometimes decide to close for a moment or for miles.
Unfortunately, this iteration of BlueCruise has a lot of quirks in the “early version” — and quirks aren’t really what you want when you’re driving a full-size pickup truck at highway speeds. First of all, when BlueCruise starts, it looks like he wants to define the outer limits of the corridor. To that end, it would always drift first to the right and then the left before centering the F-150, and would repeat the process several times. It didn’t instill much confidence in me or my fiancée in the passenger seat.
I also felt that the BlueCruise’s definition of “centering” was probably too far off the right for me, especially when a semi-truck is in the right lane. In those cases, “hands-free” switched to “moving hands” just in case the system suddenly decided to shut down or half made a sudden movement.
I also thought I’d prefer a basic driver assistance system like this version of the BlueCruise, but the constant lane changes shutting down the system made me want the ability to initiate automated lane changes. Every time I wanted to pass a slower vehicle, the BlueCruise would shut down, I would head to the next lane, and then the BlueCruise would come back and do its little center dance. Then, when I wanted to leave the lane, I started the process over.
It also seems that the long and wide curves are causing some problems for BlueCruise. In situations where it shouldn’t be difficult to hold the wheel at a steady angle and negotiate a smooth curve, the BlueCruise will continually correct the steering angle, producing what looks like some drift off the track marks. The system has not been deactivated, so the truck may have swerved close to the boundary.
The last problem I had had less to do with the BlueCruise and more to do with the F-150’s overall trail-focused steering, a common complaint from our editors: It does a poor job of detecting if your hands are really on the steering wheel. Several times, BlueCruise will be disabled or unavailable for whatever reason, and the warning will prompt me to put my hand on the steering wheel. Even after I did, at times, there were more—and more urgent—warnings telling me to put my hand on the steering wheel. I’m not sure about the sensors in the steering wheel to detect the driver’s hands, but they need to work better.
Will I use BlueCruise again?
I will probably use BlueCruise again, especially on a familiar route like this. It was nice to feel less physically drained at the end of each leg. But without feature updates and improvements, I think I might eventually get tired of having the same issues every time I take the ride, and do it myself.