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Cadillac Super Cruise users are in for a subscription-size surprise next month

The hands-free driving aid for the highway is free for three years, and then, owners must pay up.

Cadillac Super Cruise
Hands-free, but just for three years.

Apparently, Super Cruise isn't a one-time buy-in, folks. Instead, General Motors' luxury division, Cadillac, plans to charge users a subscription fee, and the surprise will surface next month.

Motor Trend first reported the somewhat shocking information on Monday. We say shocking because Cadillac's been pretty hush-hush about this for the past few years. The brand didn't immediately return Roadshow's request for more information on subscription so we don't know how the rates work, nor how much it will cost to keep Super Cruise enabled.

When the subscriptions start to expire on 2018 Cadillacs -- the first to receive the system in 2017 -- the hands-free driving feature available on roughly 200,000 miles of marked highways will disappear. What will stick around, according to the original report, are the adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist functions. But the idea of taking your hands off the steering wheel while on the highway will be long gone.

Super Cruise is a Level 2 partially automated driver-assist system, and under the right circumstances, drivers can take their hands off the wheel. Cameras monitor the driver to ensure they pay attention and there are plenty of alerts to let them know if they need to retake control. In our first test of the system, we found it was one of the best driver-assist system offered today.

How much it will cost to keep the system remains to be seen. For those that continue to pay for it, GM plans to add automatic lane changes as it rolls out to other vehicles across the Buick, Chevrolet and GMC.

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