2013 Subaru Outback, Legacy Offer “Affordable” EyeSight High-Tech Safety

March 19, 2012

Once only found on luxury models from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, advanced active safety technology is quickly finding its way into more mainstream vehicles. The latest automaker to delve into this arena is Subaru, which will debut its own EyeSight driver assistance system on the mid-size 2013 Subaru Outback wagon/crossover and Legacy sedan models later this fall.

Consumers attending the 2012 New York Auto Show next month can get an up-close and personal look at the EyeSight safety system and more details, including pricing, but Subaru promises it will be “one of the most affordable such technologies available.”

What is EyeSight?

Subaru developed EyeSight as a comprehensive suite of active safety technologies. The system uses two charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras mounted in the center-upper edge of the windshield. The stereo cameras are capable of identifying vehicles in front, different lands of traffic, and other obstacles.

The Japanese automaker said it went this route, inside-windshield-based dual cameras, instead of bumper-mounted systems, such as radar, to reduce the potential for damage. While new to Subaru, the system is similar to Volvo’s City Safety package, although it should come in considerably less expensive than Volvo’s $2,100 price tag.

EyeSight bundles three safety technologies

Families are familiar with bundling, the practice of offering most-wanted products and services combined in an attractively-priced package. With EyeSight, Subaru combines three active safety technologies in a comprehensive suite: Pre-Collision Braking Control and Collision Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Departure and Sway Warning. As a bonus, the EyeSight system is also capable of pedestrian detection.

How the system works

The intent of the EyeSight system is to operate seamlessly and provide active safety protection for the driver and occupants.

  • Pre-Collision Braking Control and Collision Mitigation works to detect objects in front of the vehicle, can pre-charge the brakes, slow the vehicle down and even bring it to a full stop if the driver fails to take action in time. Subaru says Pre-Collision Braking is “always on in the background,” but that the driver can turn it off temporarily for off-road or rough road travel. The system works at relative speeds above approximately 19 mph.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front, braking and accelerating the car as needed to adhere to the driver-selected target speed and traveling distance. Adaptive Cruise Control is best for freeway travel, operates up to 87 mph, and can fully stop the vehicle if it “locks on” to another vehicle ahead. In stop and go freeway conditions, the feature helps maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
  • Lane Departure and Sway Warning detect whether the driver is veering out of the intended lane or begins to sway in the lane. The warning is canceled if the driver uses the turn signal.

Other benefits of the EyeSight system include a driver alert when traffic ahead has moved on, cutting the throttle when it “sees” an obstacle in front, and an angle detection wide than that of radar-based systems, helpful when backing out of a driveway or parking spot.

Naturally, there’s a disclaimer or two. The EyeSight system may not react in every situation and could be hampered by weather conditions that obscure the cameras. The biggest point to remember, however, is that no safety system, no matter how advanced, should ever substitute for an attentive driver.

Stay tuned for more details following the safety system’s debut at the New York Auto Show, as well as any other changes to the 2013 Subaru Outback and Legacy. One final note is that Subaru will eventually roll out the safety technology to the rest of its lineup.

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