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Car Reviews | Subaru / 10-29-18

The Outback with a fresh pair of eyes

How EyeSight makes the Outback 3.6 R-S one of the safest on the road


By Eric Tipan

 

For those who don’t speak Subaru, the Outback is a station wagon on stilts and steroids. At first glance, it looks like an SUV because of the high ground clearance and the first drive immediately lets you know that it has a BIG engine, a monster 3.6L naturally-aspirated boxer engine that actually feels oversized, but I’m not complaining.

It’s engineered so well with the Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission that every response is split-second fast and feels absolutely buttery-smooth – just touch the throttle and you’re off.

252 bhp and 258 lb-ft of torque, plus a beautifully crafted beige interior (pillars and ceiling) and soft leather seats but that’s not really what wowed me with the Outback.

I’m here to breakdown this newest driver-assist technology they boast of called EyeSight.

Hardware

Let it be known that Subaru thinks optical lenses perform better than radar systems when it comes to monitoring the road ahead and collision prevention.

That is why they are currently the only automaker using this setup – a colored twin-camera system, an extra set of eyes so to speak, placed at the top of the windshield and behind the rearview mirror looking like binoculars separated from each other.

This 3rdgeneration EyeSight now uses stereo color cameras which not only allows it to distinguish between various hues, it also makes it capable of recognizing and identifying road markings and the types of obstacles in front of it, like if it’s a pedestrian, cyclist or another vehicle.

In its current iteration, it is rather large and highly visible if you’re on the outside looking in from the front.

What it does

EyeSight is highly intuitive and does almost all of the looking out for you – just like a back-seat driver but without the annoying comments.

It watches your position on the road relative to lane markings and warns you visually and audibly via the LCD meter center in the instrument cluster if you’re swerving outside of your lane. I like it better than other systems because it is more discreet and does not engage the steering wheel in any way, which is startling sometimes. This is called Lane Sway and Lane Departure Warning.

Like other driver-assist systems, it also has Adaptive Cruise Control which adjusts your current speed regardless of what you previously set in order to maintain a safe distance – which you’ll also be allowed to set – between you and the vehicle in front. This comes in pretty nifty if you’re on long highway drives and want to relax your throttle feet.

Would have been fun to test the Pre-Collision Braking and Pre-Collision Throttle Management but too risky without prior approval from the exclusive local importer and distributor, Motor Image Pilipinas.

Basically, the former senses an obstacle and does the braking for you should you ‘fail to take evasive action’ according to Subaru and the latter, in the event that you’re too drunk to realize that you’re parked facing a wall and shift it to Drive, the system beeps, flashes the lights and cuts engine output to prevent you from ramming the wall.

But of all the features, the most important for me is also probably the least in terms of accident prevention – the Lead Vehicle Start Alert. If you find yourself daydreaming about winning the lottery while stuck in mind-numbing EDSA traffic, this will alert you via a beep and a visual that the vehicle in front has moved, and you probably should too – before the guy behind you starts honking.

Is it better than radar?

In more ways, yes; in some ways, no.

Working with optical lenses makes this system the best in terms of recognizing things that are in front of it (as long as they’re not shorter than a meter), by shape and even by color. Radar won’t know the difference between a bicycle and a pedestrian.

While distinguishing between the two may not be so important now, data like this could mean the difference between life and death.

Identifying red will allow it to know the vehicle in front is braking and visually seeing road markings and even signs will allow future versions of this to maybe learn the do’s and dont’s of a specific country’s traffic system.

Dirt and heavy rain are its kryptonite as both, in large quantities, have the ability to reduce visibility. So, if you want it work as advertised, which it truly does, keep the windshield clean at all times. That’s not a problem for radar though.

You can’t do anything about heavy rain, which happens from time to time, but also be aware that heavy fog has the same effect on EyeSight.

What’s the future of EyeSight?

EyeSight, in its current form, is a purely driver-assist system, but Subaru Japan already has a new version that has autonomous driving capabilities. The upgrade is called Touring Assist.

But in the here and now, as a driver, knowing that it sees – almost just like you – rather than detects like radar feels reassuring.

Having tested it thoroughly over seven days, I must say that it feels more reliable than radar at the moment and being non-intrusive makes me feel confident behind the wheel.

They say too many hands spoil the broth, but in Metro Manila driving, especially in these daily insane conditions, there’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes looking out for your safety.

Specifications

Engine

EngineHorizontally Opposed 4-Cylinder petrol engine
Displacement3.6L
Cylinder HeadDOHC 16-Valve
Fuel InjectorPort Fuel Injection
Max Power (bhp @ rpm)252 bhp @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)258 lb-ft @ 4,400
TransmissionLineartronic CVT

Performance

Top Speed235 km/h (146 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph7.6 seconds

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l)15.2 mpg city / 18.8 mpg highway

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP)Php 2,408,000
What's GreatOne of the best safety features with EyeSight technology, amazing power & exhilarating acceleration, terrific handling and comfort
What's Not SoPoor gas mileage
C! Editors Rating9/10