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I like Subarus. They’re tough as leather (though not swift as Greyhounds) and are the only cars – other than Porsches – that still come with boxer engines (a plus; they’re naturally balanced and the sit low in the chassis, which is a handling bennie)  and – uniquely – standard AWD.

But Subaru seems determined to replace Volvo as the car for people who obsess about saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety:

This ’17 Outback won’t ease off with the buzzer if you drive away with the tailgate open – which is sometimes necessary to clear a long object (like a cat tree). Buzz me briefly, maybe, in case I accidentally left it open (or not quite closed). But after say 5 seconds of buzzing, I get it. I am aware the liftgate is not fully closed – and probably on purpose. If that were not case, by now, don’t you suppose I’d have pulled over and closed it?

Lane Departure Warning’s up next. Let a tire touch a painted line and another buzzer erupts – along with a flashing yellow dashboard light show. This happens even when you touch the line on purpose – as when make a left turn across one – or when passing.

Unless you signal first.

Which is a good idea if there are other cars around. But if not, why?

I wish Subaru would quit trying to parent me. If no one’s around, I can decide for myself whether there’s any point to signaling. No need for the nanny prod.

Or brake.

The car has an automated braking system (part of the EyeSight package) that will hit you with a buzzer – and another light show, this one red – if you don’t apply the brakes in a hypercautionary and often completely unnecessary manner.

Car up ahead is slowing, signaling a left turn. You – being a master (if not of time and space) of spacial relationships  – can mentally grok that it’s not necessary to brake because the turning car will be gone by the time you get there. The car begs to differ – and if you disagree, it hits you with the lights and the buzzers and will apply the brakes automatically.

Do people actually like this?

More to come, hopefully by tomorrow… .

What else? 

I will be a guest on Bill Meyers’ show tomorrow, talking about GM throwing me in the woods for political incorrectness. It’l be live at 9:35 (east coast) but as always I will post the audio clip here later.

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  1. As I’ve mentioned before, just another reason to keep the car I have till the day I die. I’m in my mid 60’s with a 2012 Nissan, about 22k on the odo. I think the Nissan will last longer than me!

  2. The collision avoidance system in the Cherokee freaks out if someone cuts me off. Alarms, warnings in the dashboard, hard braking, the works. Takes a “WTF, asshole!” moment and turns into a terrifying event. Not to mention that if there’s a guy tailgating me he’d better be on the ball or I’ll need a new rear bumper.

    I’m 99% certain these safety systems are dumbed down by focus groups. There have been systems designed for close order convoying that follow the lead vehicle less than 2 inches from the rear bumper. That would improve fuel economy, be a bridge to automatic driving vehicles and greatly increase the potential density on roads. But it would take a while for passengers to feel comfortable being that close to the lead vehicle. And it opens up yet another legal can of worms if the front vehicle (for example) speeds or does something deemed reckless.


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