As a result of more cars on the road, traffic becomes more congested and streets become more risky. In addition, new communication and entertainment applications make drivers ever-more over-burdened and distracted. To relieve the continually increasing stress on drivers and reduce the number of accidents, current intelligent vehicle research is attempting to understand and model drivers. This article surveys recent works on cognitive vehicles that model drivers in a stimuli-decision-reaction mode and, on vehicle system side, improve perception, suggestion, and function delegation of traffic environment. The authors illustrate the relationships between recent models and methods and list related research challenges, while introducing applications of the driver-cognition models in intelligent vehicle control systems.