Adaptive Cruise Control Seeping Into Affordable Segments

Sami Haj-Assaad
by Sami Haj-Assaad

Did you know that affordable, mainstream cars are getting those impressive, eyebrow-raising features that are usually reserved for high-end luxury cars?

It’s true and all thanks to a Japanese automaker that is working hard to bring those features to a mass audience.

If you saw our Top 10 about the most affordable cars with adaptive cruise control, you might have been surprised to by how many cars there are with adaptive cruise control for under $30,000. Adaptive cruise control can keep you safe and make highway cruises and road trips easier in heavy traffic. But you may have also been surprised at the number of Subarus on the list.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Affordable Cars With Adaptive Cruise Control

“The key to making it affordable is that we have been producing the system in Japan for more than 12 years and have refined the technology,” Subaru spokesman Dominick Infante said. “There still remains the fixed cost of the cameras, but the software development is in place and that helps keep the costs down.”

EyeSight in Hindsight

Despite offering it in Japan for more than a decade, Subaru introduced the U.S. to EyeSight in 2012 with the Legacy and Outback. The system uses a pair of windshield mounted cameras to provide lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning. The product was well received, as the IIHS commended it when the Institute tested current cars for pre-collision avoidance.

Perhaps more importantly, Subaru doesn’t bundle EyeSight with expensive technology packages. That means that mid-trim-level Subaru Legacys or Outbacks can be equipped with EyeSight as a standalone option for $1,200

rather than being forced to buy a technology or safety package that costs more and adds items you weren’t interested in.

When the latest generation EyeSight system debuted in 2014, the company refined it, making it smaller and better.

“The new Eyesight system is a great leap forward over the previous generation,” Infante said. “The new system has smaller but more precise cameras that provide a 40 percent wider view of the road, therefore covering more area and picking up potential items that might enter the path of the vehicle earlier.

“The cameras are also color, which allows them to see the tail lights of cars ahead turning red as they apply the brakes,” said Infante. “This allows the system to go into a ready mode.”

SEE ALSO: 2015 Subaru Legacy Review

It’s now become a big part of the company’s offerings and push for enhanced safety, helping the company secure three IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus ratings for Legacy, Outback and Forester models with EyeSight.

Creeping Into More Models

Recently the company expanded the number of cars available with EyeSight with an announcement that the new 2015 Impreza will be available with the safety and convenience technology as well. Now only the BRZ and XV Crosstrek are missing out, though with the XV being based on the Impreza, there’s a good chance it will get the feature in the future as well.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Subaru Outback Review

Impact around the Industry

This is a big deal in the grand scheme of things within the industry. These safety and high-tech features used to be exclusive to luxury vehicles, but the line between luxury and mainstream technology is blurring quickly.

Furthermore, other automakers will push to deliver adaptive cruise control and other driver aids to more affordable segments. You can see it as Mazda has started offering dynamic radar cruise control in the Mazda3 and Mazda6 while Ford, Honda, Chrysler and Toyota are beginning to offer similar features in their mid-size sedans. Honda also just added adaptive cruise control to the CR-V compact crossover for the 2015 model year.

As with other technologies before it including air conditioning, heated seats, power windows, anti-lock brakes and airbags, safety technology and convenience features tend to trickle down into many cars, but it always makes you wonder what’s next.

Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami has an unquenchable thirst for car knowledge and has been at AutoGuide for the past six years. He has a degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto and has won multiple journalism awards from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. Sami is also on the jury for the World Car Awards.

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