My fiancée, Christine, and I decided to pick up our Outback in San Francisco. Having previously crawled along the Big Sur coastline behind 34-foot-long, sightseeing motor homes and with utterly no interest in another slog up the featureless Interstate 5, we opted to plane it north from our home in Long Beach, California. Our timely arrival at the peak of San Francisco’s rush hour served two purposes: cheap round-trip airfare and an opportune test scenario for the new Subaru EyeSight system.
For those unacquainted with EyeSight, it utilizes a sweet stereo camera setup mounted near the windshield like tiny, forward-facing missile silos flanking the rearview mirror. It scans the road ahead, gathering information from lane delineations and solid objects both static and moving, and then processes it into numerous useful functions – my favorite, the adaptive cruise control.
Setting your cruise speed is the same as usual, except now a pyramid stack of three bars appears on the instrument cluster screen, matching the picture on a steering wheel button. Pressing this alters the following distance from the car in front: the minimum setting being space a responsible driver would maintain at highway speeds; the maximum setting inviting a constant flow of overtakers to exploit the Titanic-sized gap you’ve left for them.
The true brilliance of this system isn’t realized until we encounter a punishing traffic crawl. At the ready, with my foot hovering over the brake pedal, the alleged “Subaru Love” phenomenon infects me as the speedometer goes to 0 mph and I haven’t touched the brakes. Having experienced similar systems in vehicles far above this price range, I chuckle as I tap the accelerator to resume my cruise presets when traffic gets going again.
Formerly a technical editor for Road & Track magazine, Jonathan Elfalan freelances as an automotive journalist.
Writer compensated for his impressions.