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SUBARU SAFETY: Legacy Debuts EyeSight Driver-Assist System

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SUBARU SAFETY: Legacy Debuts EyeSight Driver-Assist System

The redesigned 2013 Legacy is sold in four-cylinder and V-6 models, all with all-wheel drive. The EyeSight option package, $3,940, includes a moonroof and navigation system.

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POSTED November 7, 2012 7:19 p.m.

Eyesight is precious. Subaru's EyeSight driver-assist technology will save precious lives.

The electronic safety package integrates adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane-departure and sway control warnings.

While these technologies are available on many luxury cars, the Subaru system is unique because it is available on a mainstream sedan. It debuts as an option on the redesigned 2013 Legacy sedan and Outback wagon.

Buried in the engineering of EyeSight is a significant aid to prevent or reduce damage when the driver inadvertently drives over a curb and ends up with a head-on seat in the coffee shop. The technology cuts the throttle when there is an obstacle in front but the driver keeps pushing on the accelerator.

EyeSight is a Subaru-developed stereo camera system, which the company says provides a wider view than that of radar-based systems. The system scouts the road ahead for vehicles, obstacles, traffic lanes and other objects. Below about 19 mph, EyeSight can detect people or large things in the vehicle's path and can avoid or lessen a collision. It can stop the car, if needed.

At speeds above 19 mph, EyeSight can brake to avoid situations. And if the driver takes no corrective action, the system will brake as needed to help reduce collision damage.

Lane departure and sway warnings can detect if the car wanders outside the intended lane without a turn signal being used, or if the car begins to sway within the travel lane. Sway generally means driver drowsiness.

Subaru is about two sensors away from a driverless car, but the company says EyeSight is meant to assist drivers, not replace them.

Legacy is sold in four-cylinder and V-6 all-wheel-drive models. The four-cylinders use a six-speed manual or continuously variable (automatic) transmission with manual-shift mode. The V-6 comes with a five-speed automatic.

Starting prices range from $21,065 to almost $30,000 for the top-lineV-6. I tested a Legacy 2.5i Limited (four-cylinder), which starts at $26,965, including the $770 freight charge from Indiana. The as-tested price was $30,905 with the EyeSight package, $3,940, including a moonroof and voice-activated navigation system.

The 173-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder with horizontally opposed pistons has been worked on to be more efficient and cleaner burning. For drivers who question the effectiveness of a continuously variable transmission over a manual, there are definite fuel economy gains. The Legacy Limited with CVT (3,392 pounds) has EPA mileage ratings of 24 mpg city, 32 highway and 27 combined, on 87 octane. The manual transmission is rated 21/28/24 mpg. (The 256-hp, Legacy 3.6R, with "boxer" six-cylinder, is rated 18/25/20 mpg.)

The four-cylinder performance is adequate and focused on fuel economy. The CVT demonstrated no motorboat revving as speed catches up with throttle position. The manual mode simulates the shift points of a six-speed.

Steering and braking have luxury-class smoothness and the revised suspension (sportier) dips a shoulder with athletic finesse. Head-toss is minimal when pulling into driveways or stepping over speed bumps.

On the inside, Subaru has upgraded materials and design. The cabin seemed remarkably quiet and the front seats have good all-around support. Users will be spoiled by the uncomplicated controls and sightlines, rearview camera with guidance lines and electric parking brake.

The back seat is slightly raised with good seatback angle, but the seat bottom is on the short side for adults. A tall transmission tunnel cuts into rear seat footroom and the fold-down center armrest is oddly tall. The folding seat back expands the generous, 14.7 cubic foot trunk, which has subfloor storage.

There are many popular and trendy midsize sedans  Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Chevy Malibu, Honda Accord  that drown-out the charms of standard all-wheel drive and Subaru's keep-it-simple format. But the Legacy's freshened front styling gives it new curb appeal.

Package that with EyeSight and commuters with foresight will appreciate this safe and savvy sedan.

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