IMG_2846Bendix VORAD (Vehicle On-Board Radar) is an option offered by many class A motorhome makers. Basically, it is a forward-viewing radar that provides following distance alerts, collision warning and stationary object alerts. This continually monitors the vehicle’s current path, warning the operator of any immediate action that may need to be taken.

Additionally, The Bendix VORAD features Smartcruise technology.   This feature provides a radar-based adaptive cruise control that operates the engine throttle and retarder/Jake Brake. It’s a fairly costly add-on that can add an additional six thousand dollars, or more, to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

So, is it really worth the extra cost? The best way to determine this is to get out and drive a unit that has this option, and that is exactly what we did.

Okay, we have the alert volume and the time/distance set to the default position. Driving down the road, we close on a vehicle ahead travelling in the same direction. As we’re going slightly faster, the distance to the car is shrinking.  A visual warning appears on the VORAD display. This escalates and is soon followed by an audio alarm. The screen also describes the current warning. This works also when you encounter an automobile stopped in the lane ahead waiting to make a left turn.  The alert in these scenarios is quite effective in getting your immediate attention.  That seems good.

Now, let’s see how it works when the cruise-control is engaged. The VORAD screen displays the set cruise speed.  If we close on a slower-moving vehicle in our lane, the VORAD will reduce our speed as needed to match that of the vehicle ahead. The new adjusted speed is displayed on the screen. If the car ahead speeds up or turns off the road, the VORAD will return our coach to the originally set cruise speed. Now, if we arm our brake retarder/Jake Brake, the VORAD’s actions can cause the engagement of the auxiliary braking when additional deceleration is needed.  This intervention of the auxiliary baking system along with the visual and audio alerts help to increase the driving safety.

So, is what the VORAD can deliver worth the cost? Well, I think it may be well justified in a high mileage commercial application. But, with the low annual driving distances of most motorhome owners, it may be questionable.

However, if it saves one accident, the price may well seem cheap. So we may consider it similar to insurance. We all pay for it, but hope we never need it.

There is, however, no question. The VORAD is state-of-the-art in advanced technology and really is pretty spiffy. Also, the initial cost may be offset slightly when resale value is accounted for. Kudos to the Bendix VORAD System.

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