If you've lived in the same house or traveled anywhere at all with either new or student drivers, you'll understand right away that Subaru's EyeSight pedestrian-detecting safety system will be unattractive, especially to young drivers.
EyeSight uses two charge-coupled-device cameras to identify obstacles in the road ahead, hitting the brakes or turning the car if it looks as if it's going to hit something.
It also has a lane departure system that raises the alarm if the driver drifts even a little bit out of their own lane.
All of which, obviously, are just there to control the teenagers driving your car, because obviously you don't Trust them. Thanks a lot for the blow to their self esteem.
You might think that should make no difference. Parents make the decisions about which high-tech safety systems are worth buying in a family car, especially for an automaker with such a reputation for being reliable, safe and boring that it has occasionally swapped places with Volvo without anyone noticing the difference.
It doesn't count that obstacle-detection and avoidance is becoming the big thing for the upcoming generation of smart cars – not the inside-the-vehicle WiFi, in-dash keyboards and video monitors or other distraction-inducing electronic options popping up on 2012 and 2013 models.
It doesn't matter that using cameras instead of radar lets Subaru put the detection system in the windshield rather than the bumper (where they can be fender-bended out of alignment or out of service pretty easily), or that the addition of Subaru will expand the list of sub-premium automakers offering collision avoidance from two to three (or three to four, depending on whether you consider Volvo a high-priced luxury brand; the total goes all the way to five if you the Toyota Prius turns out to be a car rather than a super-premium golf cart).
The problem is that Subuaru may be the stereotype of stodgy throughout most of its product line.
The Subaru Impreza, however, is a decent but unexciting compact car that converts into a hormone-raging, sub-woofer-powering, rally-racing drifter so beloved by tuners (we knew them as motorheads at the same age) that they're traded and resold faster than Pokemon cars but rarely show up on the used-car market without the kind of pimping and mods that would make any other car unsellable.
No teenager with the fast, tight Impreza WRX STI in his or her sights is going to waste money buying or time learning to use a system designed to keep them from running into things.
Almost running into things is the point of drifting and rallying and (evidently) almost every other thing teenagers do in a car that wouldn't be classed as biology rather than engineering.
The biggest benefit of collision-avoidance systems would be from reducing the number of collisions among the groups most likely to have a collision in the first place.
Adding extra safety measures and a system that could hit the brakes even when the driver doesn't want to will not make Subaru or EyeSight popular with collision-prone teenagers.
They have better eyesight than their elderly parents; their reactions are quicker; they're better able to multitask by texting and doing makeup and working the iTunes and chair-dancing like the hip-hop hamsters in the coolest Kia commercial ever.
They don't need help seeing pedestrians. You can already tell that by the decorations on the outside of sporty cars already driven by teenagers.
No, not the double spoilers. Look farther forward to the front driver's side panel.
See the line of stenciled outlines of pedestrians (sometimes with point totals inscribed)?
That proves they can see pedestrians just fine, so just leave them alone and put the safety systems on the cars to be driven by adults whose taxi service is suddenly reactivated to help out a son or daughter who return involuntarily to being passengers in a vehicle that's lame (Even though getting their license suspended for nothing, just one little mistake, is so completely unfair.
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