2016 Subaru Legacy Eyesight with Lane Keep Assist

Self Driving and Driver Assist Technology

This thread will be for discussion on the Subaru Eyesight technology, with much of it being my personal experience with the 2016 Subaru Legacy. The Subaru Outback, with regards to Eyesight and many other characteristics, should be almost identical to the Legacy as both vehicles are built on the same platform.

The Subaru Eyesight feature was one of the reasons I got interested in reading about self-driving cars. I first came across Eyesight when I read this article on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website. I was impressed that Subaru made this option available on their reasonably priced Legacy and Outback. More impressive, was that of the seven vehicles that earned the highest “superior” rating, the Subaru models were the best, being the only cars to completely avoid collisions when travelling at 25 mph or less. The only other vehicles to earn a superior rating were made by Mercedes, Cadillac, and Volvo. All of those vehicles are far more expensive.

After reading the article, I realized that for safety reasons I should seriously explore getting a car with these features. I do a lot of driving and have gotten real value out of the Toyota Prius I’ve driven for the past 6 years. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a reasonably priced fuel efficient car with good crash prevention features. I debated holding off for the new Toyota Prius with the Safety Sense feature, but I suspect that the feature will only be available on their higher trim levels, and it very well may not be as good as the Subaru Eyesight.

As I mentioned, the Subaru Eyesight is one of the few car manufacturers to earn a superior rating. Aside from having this option on a modestly priced car, for 2015 Subaru started to offer the option on their middle trim level, not requiring the top options that other manufacturers seem to do. For example, the current 2015 model Prius does offer a collision avoidance option, but only in the $4,000+ option on the highest trim level. That collision avoidance also only lowered the speed by 5mph when travelling at 12mph and reduced the speed by only 4mph when travelling at 25mph. Additionally, the 2015 Prius does not offer blind spot monitoring, which is another safety feature I wanted. I’ve noticed more and more ads on TV for cars claiming to have advanced collision avoidance systems. Many of those systems are just alarms or are significantly inferior in the ability to bring the car to a complete stop in time to avoid the accident completely.

Last year I debated buying the 2015 model Subaru Legacy to replace my Prius but I didn’t really need a new car. As my Prius is approaching 120k miles, I spent a lot of time researching my options and it seemed the 2016 Legacy with Eyesight was the least expensive vehicle with superior collision avoidance. In fact, I couldn’t really find anything cheaper that had more than just collision warnings. While I like to think I’m getting the new Legacy for the safety features, I was excited to see that for 2016 they are no offering Lane Keep Assist. More on that in a bit. I ordered my 2016 Subaru Legacy last month and I’m told it should be arriving next week, almost a month ahead of schedule. This first post in the thread will give information about the 2016 Eyesight features, and once I get the car, I plan to update this thread with my impressions and hopefully even some video.

As I said, the Legacy may be the lowest cost way to get Eyesight right now. It is offered on the cheaper Impreza model, but only if you get the top of the line, which includes many features I don’t need. Sure, its nice to have leather and a moonroof, but I have no interest in a navigation unit when my phone does a better job under most circumstances. Additionally, it is not the most updated version of Eyesight and it does not have the blind spot monitoring and lane change assist. The Impreza is quite a bit smaller than the Legacy and in order to get it with Eyesight, it prices out more than the cheapest Legacy with Eyesight. If the mileage was significantly better, I’d consider it. I looked at the Crosstrek Hybrid, but the mileage boost was disappointing. Overall the Legacy meets my needs very well aside from mileage, which is similar to other cars in its class. The 2016 Legacy Premium trim with the Eyesight option has an MSRP around $25,850 and most dealers will willing to discount anywhere from $1000 to $1750, with Grand Subaru discounting it a crazy $2550!! The only reason I didn’t order with Grand is that they won’t appraise a trade-in until the car arrives in stock. Additionally, their approach is to sell as many vehicles but you wind up waiting about 4 months for your order to arrive. I had no idea what my car would be worth on trade so I couldn’t fairly compare offers. I didn’t like that and didn’t want to take a chance on getting screwed on my trade in, as a few dealers tried to do. I could have always gone the Carmax route, but then you lose the tax benefit of the trade.

Having said all of that, on to the great features of the Subaru Eyesight found on the 2016 Legacy and Outback models:

— Pre-collision warning
— Pre-collision braking
— Pre-collision throttle management
— Lane Departure warning
— Lane Keep Assist (new for 2016 on US models)
— Adaptive Cruise Control
— Lead Vehicle Start Alert

Unlike most other advanced collision detection systems, Subaru has chosen to use two cameras located on either side of the rear view mirror to evaluate distance from the vehicle in front. Other manufacturers use radar, laser, or a combination. I’ll save the pros and cons of the different approaches for another post.

Lane Keep Assist – New for 2016
You can find a decent amount of information about each of the above features except the Lane Keep Assist, which I’ll start with and add as much information as possible once I get my car. From Subaru’s website:

“New for 2016, in addition to warning when you are inadvertantly (sic) swaying within your lane, EyeSight can also provide gentle steering input to help keep the vehicle’s path centered.”

I’ve seen online reviews of other manufacturers’ lane keep assist technologies and they range from pretty good to not so good. I’ll save that discussion for a separate thread.

Pre-collision Warning and Braking
This is the main safety feature that any car I will buy from no on must have. Of course, there is no substitute for attentive driving (yet), but the reality is that distractions happen while driving. It could be something as simple as looking down to check the time or having something fall off the seat and trying to grab it. I actually find it a bit annoying when I read other people’s comments that these sorts of systems are an attempt to make up for bad driving. The reality is that accidents happen and while sometimes no one is at fault, usually someone could have prevented the accident if they acted differently. I should actually be more interested in everyone else using this technology because I feel I am a very attentive driver. Nonetheless, if there is an effective safety feature available that can potentially save lives or reduce injuries, I think it is foolish not to get it, assuming it is affordable.

As for the current pre-collision warning and braking system in the 2016 Legacy/Outback, if you are approaching a collision and giving no indication of braking, the system will sound an alert first. If you continue to fail to slow down, the car will start braking, ultimately braking hard to avoid a collision. The current model is able to detect a collision as long as the difference between you and the vehicle ahead of you is 30mph or less. If the speed difference is above 30mph, the system will still slow the car down to try to reduce the severity of the impact. 30mph is better than most. I don’t plan on personally testing this feature, but based on Subaru’s materials, about half of owners who have a car with Eyesight believe the system helped avoid an accident. Based on the IIHS tests, the Subaru system is as good as anything else currently available, at least based on how they run their tests. And the system is better than almost all of the other systems. More and more companies are improving their technology in this area, and I fully expect dramatic improvements over the next five to ten years.

Pre-collision throttle management
To complement the auto-braking collision avoidance, the throttle management can also help avoid a collision. If the system detects a collision, it will reduce the throttle, assuming you have your foot on the gas. A common situation I’ve run into (and fortunately avoided a collision) is when I’m behind a car at a stop light and the car in front of me is turning right, and so am I. I see the car in front start to make his/her turn to the right and I creep up to take his/her place. I look to the left to check for an oncoming car, only to see at the last minute that the car in front of me decided not to go yet and is at a stop. I was looking left so didn’t notice they stopped. The throttle management system will prevent you from accelerating when there is a car or obstacle in front of you. Or at least that is how it is supposed to work.

Lane Departure Warning
The Eyesight cameras can detect the road lines and the system will give you an alert if you are crossing the lane markings without using your turn signal. Additionally, it will warn you if you are swaying within your lane.

Adaptive Cruise Control
This is a convenience feature, but one I am excited to test out. Basically it is an advanced form of cruise control – you set a speed and the car goes that speed, unless there is a car in front of you going slower. Adaptive Cruise Control will slow your car down to follow the car in front of you at a safe distance. Once the car in front of you speeds up, your car will speed up too. If the car in front slows, then your car slows down to keep that safe distance. If the car in front of you changes lanes, then your car will speed up to the pre-programmed speed unless another car is in front of you. Subaru’s version is very nice because it works at all speeds, meaning the adaptive cruise control can actually bring your car to a complete stop as the car in front of you slows to a stop. It may take me a while before I feel comfortable trusting the system.

Lead Vehicle Start Alert
When at a stop, if the car in front of you starts going, the car will alert you. This seems to be most useful when using adaptive cruise control and the car in front of you stopped. The car will alert you when the car in front is moving again, and then you can easily reactivate the adaptive cruise control.

The 2016 Legacy I ordered also includes blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert. The blind spot detection will identify a vehicle in your blind spot when you signal that you are going to change lanes. The rear cross traffic alert will inform you when you are backing up and something is approaching from the side. More and more vehicles are offering these options which seem like nice safety features to me.

Once I get my car, I’ll update with more details on my personal experiences on the various features.