What Is Volvo's Pilot Assist System?

Take the stress out of highway driving with this driver-assistance feature.

Illustration of a Volvo XC40 using Pilot Assist on a road to note distanceVolvo

Article QuickTakes:

While fully self-driving cars are far from being available in today's market, many manufacturers have features that assist drivers both in traffic and on an empty highway. Volvo's system is called Pilot Assist and it's offered across the Swedish manufacturer's entire lineup. It uses both camera and radar to ensure a safe (but driver-supervised) ride through varying conditions.

What is Volvo Pilot Assist?

In a nutshell, Pilot Assist is a combination of lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. It keeps the car centered in its lane and uses the brakes and accelerator to keep a set distance from the vehicle in front. This system can bring the car to a complete stop, and then resume after a brief pause. If the vehicle is stopped for longer, a simple tap on the accelerator or a push of the resume button can get it going again.

However, Pilot Assist does not work in all conditions. Drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times and the lane markings must be clear. If they are blocked by dirt or snow, the steering assistance will not work. Often the system will not work in a heavy downpour when rain obscures the markings.

To engage Pilot Assist, scroll to the feature using the arrow keys on the left side of the steering wheel. Press the button in the middle of the arrow keys to activate the technology. A steering wheel icon will appear at the bottom of the speedometer. When it turns green, the system is up and running.

Does Pilot Assist Allow For Autonomous Driving?

Pilot Assist is not an autonomous driving system. In fact, if the technology doesn't sense hands on the wheel it will emit a visual and audible warning and will eventually stop the car in its lane and turn on the hazards if the driver does not intervene. Pilot Assist is only meant to be an assist in everyday driving situations.

How Much Does Pilot Assist Cost?

Pilot Assist can be had on every Volvo in the current lineup. It is standard on the XC90, S90, V60 Recharge plug-in hybrids and mild hybrids, as well as the V90 Cross Country. Meanwhile you'll need to bump up to the Plus Package for about $4,000 over the base price to get the feature in the XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid. The Plus Package is also required for the S60 Recharge plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid, but here it's around an extra $3,000 or so. The XC40 mild hybrid gets Pilot Assist with the top Ultimate Package at around $8,000 more, while the full electric C40 Recharge and XC40 Recharge also require the Ultimate Package, but in those cases it's around $5,000 and $6,000 respectively.

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Emme Hall
Emme Hall loves small convertibles and gets out to the canyons in her 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata whenever she can. You can also find her in the dirt in her lifted (yes, that's right) 2001 Mazda Miata, or racing air-cooled Volkswagens in races like the Baja 1000. She's taken first place twice in the Rebelle Rally — once driving a Jeep Wrangler and then a Rolls-Royce Cullinan the second time. She was also the first driver to take an electric vehicle to the Rebelle Rally when campaigning the Rivian R1T to a top-five finish