What is hill assist and what does it do?
For starters, it takes away the anxiety of driving while you’re uphill. So, if you’ve stopped on a slope, there’s no fear of temporarily rolling backward when you continue moving again.
Simply, it buys you time, so let’s explore how it works.
Here’s the short answer to whether all automatic cars have hill assist:
Many automatic cars today have hill assist features as part of their base trim models. This is typically true for high-end luxury vehicles. However, not all automatic vehicles on the road today have hill assist systems. Besides, many people argue that vehicles with manual trannies need them more.
Is Hill Assist Standard on All New Cars Today?
A lot of modern cars today have the hill assist feature, but it’s not exactly standard on all new cars. However, this doesn’t mean they’re only available in luxury cars.
Most major car brands include hill assist or hill start assist as a standard feature across many of their models.
So, the good news is that if you’re loyal to a brand, chances are you can remain so. Simply browse through your favorite car brand and you’re bound to find more than a few models with hill assist.
Besides, there may be more models with hill assist than there are without it.
Note that although they’re not standard on all vehicles, they’re an important safety feature. Other than anxiety reduction, the hill assist feature help reduce accidents on roads.
So, with hill start assist, you don’t have to worry about hitting the car directly behind you.
You also have the freedom to drive comfortably in traffic at your own pace without worrying about unintended rollback. This reduces the risk of hitting the car directly ahead of you in an uphill traffic situation.
More good news is that you can usually opt for hill assist as an added option for an extra cost. That way, you can stick with your preferred model without having to compromise on features.
How Do I Know If My Car Has Hill Assist?
You can search for your car model on your manufacturer’s official website to find out if it was factory installed. However, this method has some disadvantages to it. Car models usually have different trims across different model years.
So, extracting information specific to your trim and model year may sometimes be difficult. Also, more often than not, trims get added features over the years, and that may complicate things further.
A foolproof approach would be to check your car manual to be sure. This is usually the easiest way to check, as your manual is specific to your vehicle. However, if you did not purchase your car brand new, the information there might be incorrect.
This is because the previous owner may have had the feature installed. Ultimately, the best way to know is when you drive since you can do a quick test to find out.
First, drive to an uphill road that is free of other cars.
Step on your brake pedal while driving uphill for an automatic car and let go for a second.
Then step on the gas pedal to continue driving. If you observe your car roll backward as you let go, it doesn’t have hill assist, otherwise; it does.
Step on the gas in a manual vehicle after braking and changing gears and keep driving. If you observe your car remains still while changing gears, it means it has a hill assist system.
If you feel your car roll back, you need to make sure your hill assist system is not turned off. If it is, you’ll see a hill assist warning light on your dashboard. The symbol is usually that of a car on an inclined surface.
Do Manual Cars Have Hill Assist?
Manual cars now come equipped with hill start assist. Not all manual vehicles have hill assist features, however, finding one with it shouldn’t be hard.
As we’ve already stated, many people feel hill assist features are more useful in manual cars than in automatic vehicles.
When you think about it, there’s some logic to their point of view.
Automatic cars usually have just brake and gas pedals with no complex gear system. So, when you’re driving an automatic, it’s easier to switch from the brake to the gas pedal without rollback.
With a manual vehicle, however, the process is a little more complicated than that.
In a manual transmission, there’s normally a higher chance of rolling back when you stop uphill. This is because of the clutch function and changing of gears. More often, drivers in manual cars use their handbrakes just to be safe.
Hill assist significantly reduces the wear on the handbrake and this helps save money on maintenance costs. Nevertheless, while manual cars may be better off with hill assist, they’re more common in automatic vehicles.
Do Automatic Cars Always Have Hill Assist?
Although hill assist is a great feature on most modern cars, not all automatic car models are equipped with it. Nevertheless, many of them are equipped with it.
So, it’s not a compulsory safety feature; it’s more like a good industry practice.
Modern automatic cars are more likely to be fitted with a hill assist feature than older models. Hence, if you buy one today, you’re likely to get the hill assist feature as standard or as an option.
If your brand-new automatic vehicle has no hill assist feature, it’ll usually have something else to compensate for it. Typically, these other features have different names but would all perform similar functions.
An example is the auto hold feature that keeps your car stationary the same way a hill start assist does. However, on most cars, you need to engage the auto hold feature yourself just like the parking brakes.
The upside is that you don’t have to turn it off because it disengages automatically once you start moving.
Also, unlike the hill start assist, it holds your car in position for as long as you need. Whereas hill assist only holds your car in place for some seconds to give you a little breathing space.
In simplest terms, auto hold engages your brakes so you don’t have to.
These Cars Don’t Have Hill Assist
Before 2004, cars rarely had hill assist features. So, for the 2004 model year, it’s safe to say almost all car models don’t have hill start assist.
The Volkswagen Touareg and the Subaru Legacy were the pioneers in adopting hill start assist features.
The 2011 Kia Soul, like its prior models, has no hill assist. We can also say the same for the 2012 Mazda CX-3. Although we can keep listing models without hill assist, you can see how tasking that’d be.
Hence, it’s easier to give a generalized perspective. So, remember most modern cars today would have hill assist features or their equivalent.
What Percentage of New Cars Have Hill Assist?
We’re uncertain about the exact percentage of vehicles with hill assist today. However, a relatively high percentage of modern vehicles are equipped with it. Also, this percentage only goes in one direction, as is expected, upwards.
In the coming years, we expect to see fewer cars without hill start assist. Their advantages ensure they’ll continue to have a spot in modern vehicles.
Therefore, although not everybody wants them, it’s tough to ignore their importance in our automobiles today. Besides, as we’ve mentioned, almost every new car on the planet has a close substitute for it.
When Did Hill Assist Become Normal on New Cars?
The hill assist feature has existed for over 8 decades now. However, it wasn’t until 2005 that it started seeing daylight. Over the next 10 years, it became a popular feature in automobiles.
Most brands added hill assist to their cars between 2011 and 2014. You can think of this as the hill assist rush.
Since then, different automakers have adopted the hill assist feature. Many of them have made several modifications to it over the years.
Today, the hill assist features you see on modern cars are way more advanced than the primitive ones used 17 years ago.
Hill assist systems have different variants that work in different ways. For example, recall that it prevents your car from rolling backward when you continue driving up an incline after stopping. Other types can stop your car from rolling forward after stopping on a downward slope.
For this to work, you need to be moving in reverse. As you’ve probably guessed, this occurrence is quite rare, and that’s why most hill assist systems exclude its operation.
Why Don’t All Cars Have Hill Assist Today?
Although the hill assist feature seems like a minor addition to cars, it costs money to add. In the automobile industry, automakers have to weigh the cost of each component in their cars constantly.
On regular everyday vehicles, they prefer to keep things simple as high prices might drive some of their customers away.
As you know, an increased cost of production translates to increased selling prices. To avoid that, car brands cut costs they deem unnecessary, especially if the components/features are not required by law.
To understand the cost implication of adding hill assist systems to cars, know that they comprise several parts. They work because of several sensors that are put together. These sensors may include wheel speed, throttle position, and reverse gear sensors, with a clutch position switch.
They monitor the clutch, brakes, torque, and angle of inclination, among others. This helps them detect forward and backward rolling in the car. So, hill assist systems don’t come cheap.
Also, not all cars have it because of preference. Some drivers dislike hill assist features and prefer the old way of driving. We wouldn’t want automakers to take away all their options, would we?
Many experienced drivers often use their parking brakes temporarily while switching pedals and it works just fine for them.
If you’ve only been driving for a few years, chances are you’re already used to hill assist in modern cars. It’ll also make more sense to continue driving cars with the feature.
Many older drivers care little about hill start assist like younger ones, so it comes down to preference.
So, if you’re excited about hill assist features, they’re here to stay.