As part of the Subaru of America, Inc. National Marketing Department, I’m regularly exposed to new Subaru vehicles and products and test them as they are introduced. When EyeSight,1 the Subaru Driver Assist Technology, was introduced, it caught my attention because of its ability to look at the road ahead and control vehicle speed to correspond with the flow of traffic – a feature straight out of The Jetsons.
When in a car, I need to be the one in control. Since high school, I’ve always been the guy who drives – a matter of trust and control. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about driving a vehicle that was able to stop and start by itself and take that control away from me. I’ve had a clean driving record for more than 30 years, so naturally I was intrigued to see if EyeSight would be able to make better driving decisions than
But Subaru engineers have always been innovators, and a feature that helps make our vehicles even safer is definitely worth a try. Especially when it’s acclaimed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
I took a 2014 Legacy 2.5i Limited for a Sunday road trip. The goal was to test EyeSight in a variety of circumstances without endangering myself, the vehicle, or any other vehicles on the road. I decided to use the Adaptive Cruise Control as much as possible on a route that combined inner-city and suburban expressways, back roads, and a major interstate highway.
I’m not one to read instruction manuals, even though I realize I should, especially for products that incorporate new technology. Nonetheless, I just hopped in the car and set out across the bridge into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Once on the Schuylkill Expressway, which runs through the heart of the city and into the western suburbs, I engaged the EyeSight Adaptive Cruise Control.
The Schuylkill is the primary artery for traffic leaving the city, and on this Sunday morning, lots of drivers wanted to get out of Philly. I set the cruise control to the pace of overall traffic flow – approximately 55 mph – jumped in, and let the car do the work.
The EyeSight Adaptive Cruise Control gives the driver the benefits of cruise control while actively monitoring the road ahead. It warns the driver and automatically brakes when needed to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead. While the vehicle is stopped, the Lead Vehicle Start Alert notifies the driver when the vehicle in front has started moving and the EyeSight vehicle has not. A tap of the accelerator or the RES+ switch on the steering wheel will start the vehicle and accelerate it to the set speed.
In the 20 miles or so that I was on the expressway, the pace varied from upward of 65 mph to a grinding halt, then back up to 65. After EyeSight brought the car to its first grinding halt, I was admittedly a little white-knuckled. While stopped, I noticed the button on the steering wheel that adjusts the following distance. I set it to the longest of the three increments and took off again.
Throughout the remainder of the almost 200 miles of the trip on familiar roads, I drove with the system on various types of roadways, ranging from open highway to congested highway to stop-and-go driving with traffic lights. On the open highway, the system acted just like cruise control – the car maintained the set speed.
The last leg of the trip was on an incredibly congested part of I-95 through Maryland, Delaware, and back toward Philadelphia. The only thing I really did during this part of the drive was steer. EyeSight maintained speed with the flow of traffic, slowed down when cars from other lanes moved in front of me, and kept a safe distance from that car in front.
EyeSight is a driver-assist technology which may not operate optimally under all driving conditions.The driver is always responsible for safe and attentive driving. Technology effectiveness depends on many factors such as vehicle maintenance, weather and road conditions. See Owner’s Manual for complete details on system operation and limitations. Please remember to turn off EyeSight when going through a car wash.
Ratings based on Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS’s) 40-mile-per-hour frontal crash test, 31-mile-per-hour side-impact test, 20-mile-per-hour rear-impact test, and roof strength test. For more information, contact IIHS or visit its website at iihs.org.