At a time when manufacturers are rapidly adding more and more advanced safety technology, it can be difficult to figure out which company is offering which features. Ford calls their suite of driver-assist technologies “Ford Co-Pilot360,” but the actual standard equipment and packages can vary in some confusing ways. To help you figure out what you’re getting in your Ford, whether it’s a Mustang, F-150, or any other recent model, we’re here to help you boil down the specific tech that comes with the different levels of Ford’s Co-Pilot360. You can also use this as a guide for Lincoln vehicles as well, which also now come with Co-Pilot360.
Starting with 2020 models, the basic Co-Pilot360 safety suite will be standard on most Ford vehicles and all Lincoln vehicles. The more advanced Co-Pilot360 Assist+ system is optional on most 2020 models. There are 12 total features currently listed on Ford’s Co-Pilot360 webpage, including five that are standard, two that are part of the optional Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package, and four that are additional separate options. We’ll take a look at all 12 of these systems in this guide.
Always remember that even the most advanced driving assistance technologies require the operator’s care and attention at all times. As noted by Ford, Co-Pilot360 technology is “supplemental and does not replace the driver’s attention, judgment, and need to control the vehicle.”
What is Ford Co-Pilot360?
Ford officially debuted its Co-Pilot360 suite in 2018 with the 2019 model year Fusion sedan. The system represented a leap forward into how the company bundled their safety tech while demonstrating the way forward for future vehicles. The system currently includes five safety systems and will be standard on all Ford and Lincoln vehicles from the 2020 model year onwards. Take a look at each of these five systems and how they help drivers stay safe in various situations.
BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert
The Blind Spot Information System, known as BLIS, alerts drivers to vehicles that may be hiding in their blind spot. Using radar detection, you’ll receive an indicator light in your side-view mirror if there is a vehicle that may be blocked from view. The Cross-Traffic Alert feature uses the same sensors, but for the purpose of detecting vehicles that are crossing behind you when you are backing up. Using a visual and audible warning, this is especially helpful when reversing out of a tight parking spot.
Though it won't automatically steer to keep you centered in your lane, the lane keeping system can prevent you from drifting.
Lane Keeping System
The lane keep assist will alert drivers if they drift outside of the marked lines for their lane. This is done with a vibration tactile feedback in the wheel, and a small amount of automatic wheel turning if needed. The car will not steer itself or stay centered in the lane, but the system will help prevent a driver from drifting off the road or into oncoming traffic.
Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking
Ford’s Pre-Collision Assist system uses cameras to detect a potential collision that will occur due to a vehicle or obstacle in front of you. It can even detect pedestrians in some (but not all) conditions, providing higher safety levels, especially in busy urban environments. The first step of the system is alerting you to a potential collision with a visual and auditory warning. If sufficient action is not taken, the Automatic Emergency Braking system pre-charges the brakes and increases their sensitivity in preparation for hard braking. Finally, if proper action is still not taken and a collision is imminent, the system will apply the brakes automatically.
Rear View Camera
A reverse camera is now federally-mandated for every new vehicle in the United States. The European Union will follow suit in 2021. However, Ford still counts it as one of the five standard safety features that are part of Ford Co-Pilot360. This is a great piece of technology for any car or truck, as long as it is not over-relied on; remember to also check all of your mirrors and surrounding environment before reversing.
Auto High-Beam Headlamps
The automatic high beams on new Ford vehicles allow for you to leave your brights on when traveling dark roads, without having to worry about constantly turning them off and on again. When the system detects oncoming cars in the opposite lane of travel, it will automatically dim them, returning to full power once the other vehicle has passed.
What is Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist Plus?
Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ (or Co-Pilot360 Assist Plus) is the more advanced suite of Ford’s current safety tech and is not standard on all vehicles. Boiled down to its core, it adds the ability for the car to steer itself. Each of the three related systems works at different times: during highway cruising (adaptive cruise control), emergency situations (evasive steering assist), or parking (enhanced active park assist). The adaptive cruise control and evasive steering assist come with the Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package, while the active park assist feature must be added as an option once Co-Pilot360 Assist+ is already selected.
Ford sometimes also includes the infotainment’s navigation system in the Co-Pilot360 Assist+ suite, because it is often included in the same option package; however, because it is not featured on their driver-assist technology page, we will not be detailing it here.
The ability to truly steer the car is not included in the base Co-Pilot360 group. Notably, the lane-keeping system does not control steering, though it does “actively apply steering torque,” with small nudges to get you back on course. To get the two technologies with active steering, which are the lane-centering component of adaptive cruise control and the evasive steering assist, you’ll have to opt for this Co-Pilot360 Assist Plus bundle.
CoPilot360 Assist+ is currently a $795 option on cars like the 2019 Edge and 2020 Explorer, but may also require the addition of other packages, depending on the configuration. Let’s take a look at the two main features that this advanced safety suite offers.
Adaptive Cruise Control
There are several different types of adaptive cruise control that Ford offers with the CoPilot360 Assist+ (or Safe & Smart) option package. Regardless of the specific features, each offers a semi-autonomous driving mode where your vehicle will maintain a speed, automatically adjusting it based on the vehicle in front of you. Some versions will also keep you centered in your lane by controlling steering.
In order from least-advanced to most-advanced, these are the different adaptive cruise control options currently available on Ford vehicles.
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Control with Brake Support
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go and Lane Centering
- Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control
Most Ford models, including the 2020 Mustang, are only available with the “entry-level” version, ACC with forward collision control and brake support. Currently, the only model with the top-level Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control is the 2020 Explorer. This system is the same as the adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane centering, except that it adds the ability to read speed limit signs, automatically adjusting your vehicle’s speed accordingly. Expect this system to roll out across other models in the near future.
Evasive Steering Assist
If your Pre-Collision Assist system detects that a crash with an object in front of you is unavoidable by braking alone, the Evasive Steering Assist system provides supplemental support. It does not actually control steering, but it will provide additional steering support for the evasive maneuver if the driver is not applying enough steering input on their own.
Additional Ford Co-Pilot360 Features
There are several features in the Ford Co-Pilot360 family that are not included in each the Co-Pilot360 or Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package. Several are specific to trucks and SUVs; there’re also the standalone Active Park Assist and Reverse Brake Assist options.
Enhanced Active Park Assist
Ford’s Enhanced Active Park Assist is an optional technology that will automatically steer your vehicle to assist you with parallel or reverse perpendicular parking. You handle the gear shifts, accelerating, and braking, while the computer will do the hard part by lining you up perfectly.
The newest version, Active Park Assist 2.0, even does the shifting, braking, and accelerating for you. This latest version is currently only available on the 2020 Explorer.
Reverse Brake Assist
This system will warn you if you’re backing up and in danger of hitting a stationary object or moving vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian. If the driver does not apply the brakes, the vehicle will automatically come to a complete stop as needed.
BLIS with Trailer Coverage
This system works almost exactly like the standard BLIS that comes standard with Co-Pilot360, but also takes your trailer’s blind spots into consideration as well. The enhanced system works with conventional trailers only (so no goosenecks or fifth-wheel trailers), for sizes up to 9 feet wide and 33 feet long.
Pro Trailer Backup Assist
Even the most seasoned pros can have trouble backing up trailers in certain situations. And for novices, having the truck go one way and the trailer go the other can be tough to adapt to. Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist system makes things a lot easier, by having the driver simply direct where they want the trailer to go using a knob. From there, the vehicle will take over, automatically operating the truck’s actual steering as needed.
Hill Descent Control
This automatic cruise control system allows you to set a low, safe speed for very steep inclines. Especially helpful while towing trailers, the vehicle will automatically adjust traction control and brake pressure to maintain a constant speed that you can set (between 2 and 20 mph). This allows the driver to concentrate on steering while the vehicle does the rest.
Additional Ford Safety Features
It’s not clear if these four features are technically part of the Co-Pilot360 group. They are listed on Ford’s site as “Confidence-Driving Technology,” and their availability varies by model.
- Trailer Sway Control
- Curve Control
- 360-Degree Camera
- Rain-Sensing Wipers
Here are some examples of available Co-Pilot360 features by model.
What are Ford Co-Pilot360 Protect and Co-Pilot360 Assist? Old Names, Same Tech
When initially launched in 2018, Ford used the terms “Co-Pilot360 Protect” and “Co-Pilot360 Assist” for their two levels of packaging. These names are no longer used by the company and have since been respectively replaced by the simpler “Co-Pilot360” and “Co-Pilot360 Assist Plus” that are currently used.
What is the Ford Safe & Smart Package?
The Ford Safe and Smart package is a carryover option group that is used on models where Co-Pilot360 is not yet standard. It includes everything from Co-Pilot360 and some, but not all, of the features from Co-Pilot Assist Plus. This is a package applied to slightly older models like the 2019 Mustang, Escape, and Explorer. Brand-new models like the 2020 Escape and Explorer do not offer this package. Most likely, it will be phased out as the packaging groups are simplified.
The Safe & Smart package includes standard equipment like front rain-sensing wipers, auto high beam headlights, BLIS with Cross Traffic Alert, and lane-keeping assist. It also adds adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning with brake support. THIS SEEMS TO IMPLY THAT IT DOES NOT HAVE AUTOMATIC EMERGENCY BRAKING OR STOP AND GO FEATURE. As an example of pricing, it is available on the 2020 Mustang as a $1,000 option.
On some vehicles, such as the 2019 Ford Ranger, a similar package that includes adaptive cruise control is instead called the “Technology Package,” further increasing the overall confusion with the safety features naming and grouping.
Co-Pilot360 vs Co-Pilot360 Assist Plus: Comparison and Differences
There’s no doubt that all of this can be very confusing for the consumer, especially as the technology and package groupings have changed over time and continue to do so. The bottom line is this: Starting with the 2020 model year, most new Ford vehicles will come with the basic Co-Pilot360 safety suite, and many Ford vehicles will have the option to add the extra package, Co-Pilot360 Assist+. Sometimes, the features of Co-Pilot360 Assist+ comes in a different package, like the Ford Safe & Smart Package or a Technology Package; expect this to change soon as the packaging is (hopefully0 simplified.
As the more advanced add-on package, Co-Pilot360 Assist Plus is most notable for its adaptive cruise control, meaning that it will actually steer and accelerate the car autonomously. The basic suite, Co-Pilot360, will apply the brakes in emergency situations but is not able to accelerate or steer automatically.
Image Credit: Ford