Last week I was invited to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to spend some quality time with the Subaru family. Beyond getting to know the small, fun and passionate team behind the cult manufacturer's US presence, it was also a chance to put the 2013 Outback through some rigorous testing. Proving the all wheel drive wagon could tackle sand dunes was fun, but what really impressed was their all-new EyeSight safety system.
EyeSight provides adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and pre-collision braking—all features available on several luxury vehicles, but never before seen on a mid-range car. While other manufacturers use a sonar-based solutions, Subaru has installed two forward-facing cameras with integrated technology that processes the video feed to identify objects in three dimensions. The net result is a set of safety features that's nearly comparable to vehicles three times the price of the Outback.
At speeds under 20mph, EyeSight detects obstacles and brakes to avoid or mitigate impact. At full speed, the system works to alert drivers when they stray from traffic lines. In variable speed traffic situations, the adaptive cruise control monitors the car ahead of you and adjusts distance and speed. EyeSight can also cut the throttle when accelerating towards an obstacle—an effort to prevent users from driving forward when they mean to reverse.
On the drive from Norfolk, Virginia down to the Outer Banks, we had a chance to test the lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. The system worked just as well as others we've tested from luxury European manufacturers. A final experiment involved driving directly at a foam wall, allowing the pre-collision braking to bring us to a full stop. We stopped succesfully even though I never took my foot off the gas. From there, we turned off EyeSight and took to the sand where the Outback proved more than capable as an off-road car.
The 2013 Outback features a redesigned front end for more aggressive looks. The new Boxer engine increases both power and efficiency on the AWD crossover with a proposed 30 MPG highway. While the Outback's 8.7-inch ground clearance doesn't beat out most SUV's, it proved more than enough to tackle North Carolina's coastal dunes.
A fully-loaded 2013 Subaru Outback 3.6R with EyeSight will retail for around $31,695 MSRP.
Images by Josh Rubin