Concerning automated vehicles, various path-following controllers have been designed by the model reference adaptive control (MRAC) approach. Through appropriate Lyapunov redesigns, asymptotical stability and signal boundedness are ensured for the path-tracking control loops. However, transient behaviors of the closed-loop responses are seldom considered in the context of MRAC synthesis. To bridge the foregoing gap, a closed-loop-reference-model-based MRAC, which yields an improved transient performance compared with a traditional MRAC, is exploited to synthesize a vehicular path-following control law. Besides, an infinitely differentiable projection operator is complemented to the control parameters’ adaptation schemes for estimation speed-up and robustness enhancement. Hardware-in-the-loop experiments are used to evaluate the proposed method and to demonstrate its improvement over some conventional MRAC designs.