Can Ford BlueCruise Automatically Change Lanes?

Truly autonomous cars may not be on the market yet, but advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) which help take some of the chore out of highway driving are becoming more numerous — and more capable. Ford's BlueCruise is one such example, offering hands-free highway driving that can keep a vehicle centered in the lane and maintain pace with other traffic, without demanding contact with the steering wheel to demonstrate driver attentiveness.

Instead of wheel sensors, like most other systems rely on, BlueCruise uses a driver-attention camera mounted above the steering column. It ensures that the person at the controls is still watching the road ahead. Since it launched in early 2022, however, one big question has dogged Ford's tech: can BlueCruise automatically change lanes?

Certainly, BlueCruise — and Lincoln's equivalent system, branded ActiveGlide — launched with some omissions on its feature sheet that rivals provide. Automatic lane change support was the most obvious of those: indicating to change lanes in a Ford or Lincoln with the system active would see it temporarily disabled while the maneuver is completed manually. Then, BlueCruise would re-enable once it had established a fix in the center of the new lane.

BlueCruise v1.2 fills in the lane-change gap

With the arrival of BlueCruise v1.2 (and ActiveGlide v1.2), however, that's no longer the case. Tapping the turn signal will see the system check the adjacent lane for a gap; assuming one is present and safe to enter, it'll automatically move across without BlueCruise deactivating. The driver still needs to be paying attention, of course.

It makes a big difference to how usable BlueCruise is on road trips, as we discovered in the latest Ford Mustang Mach-E. However, though an improvement on the system as it originally launched, it doesn't quite have parity with its rivals just yet.

GM's Super Cruise, for example, supports hands-off automatic lane changes that are speed-based. If the vehicle ahead is driving slower than the speed the adaptive cruise control is set to, your vehicle can automatically move over to a faster lane if safe. Tesla's Navigate on Autopilot also offers speed-based lane changes, though as a hands-on system, it requires the driver to keep at least one hand on the wheel at all times.

Not every BlueCruise-enabled car gets the feature yet

While BlueCruise v1.2 may be able to automatically change lanes now, that doesn't mean your particular Ford or Lincoln can do it quite yet. Though the latest software is already available on the Mustang Mach-E, that's only on newly-built examples of the electric crossover. Soon, the Lincoln Corsair will also have the latest version installed at production.

Existing Ford and Lincoln owners, however, will have to wait for an over-the-air (OTA) software update. The good news is that it means BlueCruise and ActiveGlide won't require a return to the dealership in order to install the latest version of the software. Unfortunately, it does still involve some patience.

Ford says that it expects to begin OTA updates for existing vehicles later in 2023. For the moment, there's no specific timescale for when, exactly, that might take place. It'll be a free update for drivers with existing ActiveGlide or BlueCruise plans, which effectively means every vehicle since all vehicles are still in the initial three-year subscription bundled with the original purchase.