March 16, 2012, 4:04 PM — 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.