Dynamic cruise control is one of those opulent car options that sound a little ridiculous until you actually try it, and then you can't really imagine using a car without it. It is awesome. The concept is simple: instead of operating at a constant, set speed, your car continuously monitors for traffic ahead of you and adjusts your speed to maintain a minimum set distance, along with a maximum speed. For highway goers, it can mean traveling for hours at a time without ever touching a pedal. (As you might imagine, it's also an important precursor to autonomous driving.)
Just chill out and let the car do its thing
The feature has appeared in various forms on luxury vehicles for two decades, but it's been hyper-focused on the luxury segment — now, it's starting to trickle down. Affordable brands like Chrysler, Ford, and Chevrolet have started to offer dynamic cruise on mainstream models over the past couple years, and today Volkswagen has announced that it is going nearly all-in: you'll be able to get Adaptive Cruise Control (as VW calls it) on the 2016 CC, Golf, Jetta, and Toureg. It's a particularly big deal, because the Golf and the Jetta are two of the best-selling cars in the world, and Volkswagen is — at least for the moment — the biggest carmaker in the world by sales. ACC will run between $950 and $2,960 as part of a package, depending on the model.
This is a common trajectory: new, high-tech features cut their teeth in the rare air of the luxury market before going big. Everything from anti-lock braking to power windows to heated seats followed that path — now, pedal-free cruising in heavy traffic.