Tech’splaining: How Does Subaru EyeSight Work?

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
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Irvine, California might as well be on the other side of the universe from where I live. It’s only 80 miles, but the drive is nothing short of brutal during the week. Therefore, in order to attend the reveal of the redesigned 2020 Escape Hybrid at Ford’s Southern California design center, I arose before dawn to limit the commute south to a comparatively reasonable two hours.

Groggy from lack of sleep and coffee, I allowed the car to wander about in the southbound Interstate 405 lane. Part of the reason was the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid’s steering, which is vague on-center. But mostly it was because of my fatigue. So I engaged the adaptive cruise control, made sure the lane keeping assist system was on and leaned on Subaru EyeSight as I made my way to Orange County.

  • EyeSight is now available on all trim levels of all 2019 Crosstreks
  • It provides: adaptive cruise, stop-and-go, forward collision warning and pedestrian detection, auto-braking, lane departure warning, lane assist and pre-collision throttle management.
  • Rated “Superior” ADAS Tech by IIHS
  • An overall impressive system with better refinement than some luxury cars

What is Subaru EyeSight?

Subaru EyeSight Cameras on Windshield
Subaru EyeSight uses dual color cameras mounted at the top of the windshield to power several effective advanced driver-assistance systems. (Subaru)

EyeSight is Subaru’s camera-based advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS). It uses dual color cameras mounted at the top of the windshield, which continually monitor the road ahead and power the following safety features:

  • Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability
  • Forward collision warning with pedestrian detection
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Lane departure and lane sway warning
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Pre-collision throttle management

For 2019, Subaru expands the availability of EyeSight to all trim levels of the Crosstrek, the company’s popular small SUV. However, if you get the manual transmission with base or Premium trim, your Crosstrek is ineligible for EyeSight.

With Subaru EyeSight, the adaptive cruise control system offers four sensitivity settings, as well as stop-and-go capability for heavy traffic driving situations. It maintains a set distance from vehicles ahead and can bring a Subaru to a complete stop. Once traffic starts to move, to continue driving you must press on the accelerator pedal or push the Resume button on the steering wheel to re-engage the adaptive cruise control.

EyeSight also monitors for lane sway and lane departure, beeping to get the driver’s attention. Subaru suggests that the beep can rouse a sleepy driver. If the driver fails to heed the warning, the lane keeping assist system nudges the vehicle back into the intended lane of travel. Of course, if you use your turn signal to indicate a lane change, this deactivates the lane departure and lane keeping systems to facilitate the desired action.

Pre-collision throttle management works when the car ahead of the Subaru starts to go, and then stops again. This is a common behavior when a line of cars is trying to make a right turn onto a busy highway, and in stop-and-go traffic. If you’re not looking forward, EyeSight will visually and aurally warn you of an impending collision while the pre-collision throttle management system reduces power from the engine, giving you extra time to react.

EyeSight also includes forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking. Subaru says that this technology reduces rear-end crashes with injuries by up to 85%, and claims that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) finds that EyeSight reduces pedestrian injuries by 35%.

The IIHS rates EyeSight as a “Superior” ADAS technology, helping the Crosstrek to earn a “Top Safety Pick+” overall safety rating from the organization. Examine the little SUV’s results, and you’ll see that the Crosstrek gets the highest possible ratings in every single one of the IIHS’s assessments.

It simply does not get better than this.

How Well Does Subaru EyeSight Work?

Subaru EyeSight Graphic on Dashboard
Subaru EyeSight’s adaptive cruise control system shows a graphic on the Crosstrek Hybrid’s upper dashboard information display. (Christian Wardlaw)

Knowing all of these things during my drive to Irvine, I’m confident that I’ll arrive safely at my destination.

Before engaging the adaptive cruise control, I was running the Crosstrek Hybrid in the transmission’s ‘B’ mode, which is a more aggressive brake-energy regeneration setting. However, the cruise control doesn’t work unless you switch to the regular ‘D’, or drive, mode.

Once engaged, the adaptive cruise worked well. Aside from some occasionally abrupt braking response that took some commuters following too closely behind me by surprise, EyeSight did a great job of maintaining a safe distance to traffic ahead.

Gratefully, the system is sophisticated enough that it doesn’t suddenly freak out when other vehicles tuck into the space ahead, or if you switch lanes and get behind a closer vehicle that is traveling faster. Some luxury vehicles lack this level of refinement, let alone what is an entry-level SUV from a mainstream automaker.

The lane keeping assist system did a terrific job during my drive, though like the adaptive cruise control it can be occasionally abrupt with regard to inputs. The Crosstrek’s blind spot monitoring system needs a little extra cushion in terms of its sensing distance, but this is a short car and the side mirrors are huge, so perhaps objects in the rearview mirror are farther away than they appear.

Before I engaged the adaptive cruise control, EyeSight emitted a couple of forward collision warnings, visual and aural announcements that are stern enough to get your attention but do not startle you out of your skin. Similarly, the beeps and visual warnings from the lane keeping systems are noticeable yet subtle.

Overall, EyeSight impresses. It is useful, refined, and accurate, and is not a source of driver irritation.

And for the record, cycling between the Crosstrek Hybrid’s EV, Hold, and Charge driving modes, I made the 160-mile round-trip from home to Irvine and back averaging 42.1 mpg. Not bad for an all-wheel-drive crossover with 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

All the Crosstrek Hybrid needs is better powertrain packaging in order to restore its lost cargo capacity.


About the Author

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
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