New Subaru Forester Just Failed Consumer Reports’ Latest Safety Testing
Subaru's DriverFocus, which detects signs of distraction or drowsiness at the wheel, is available on the 2022 Subaru Forester compact SUV, 2022 Outback midsize SUV, and 2022 Legacy sedan. A new study from Consumer Reports (by subscription) says Subaru's DriverFocus system fails to meet their new safety requirements.
CR's upcoming February best car rankings will add two points to a vehicle's overall score if it features a system that encourages safe driving as part of the model's active driving assistance package. They will also deduct two points if a vehicle lacks adequate driver monitoring or fails CR's evaluation.
So far, CR says only Ford's BlueCruise and GM's Super Cruise will earn these additional points. What is wrong with Subaru's DriverFocus?
CR defines an adequate driver monitoring system as one that reliably detects driver inattentiveness and alerts the driver to pay attention while vehicle automation is in use, says Kelly Funkhouser, manager for vehicle technology at CR.
According to Consumer Reports, the 2022 Subaru Forester compact SUV, 2022 Outback midsize SUV, and 2022 Legacy sedan with DriverFocus fail its new evaluation study. CR says, "We tested Subaru's DriverFocus camera on a Subaru Outback equipped with the company's EyeSight active driving assistance feature. It can detect driver distraction in some scenarios. Still, it can be completely shut off via the menu, and it is not required to be activated to use a vehicle's driver assistance systems."
CR also reserves the right to withhold points depending on an automaker's privacy practices. Subaru's DriverFocus system uses facial recognition technology, "although the automaker tells CR it does not record any information." A Subaru spokesperson told CR that requiring the camera to use adaptive cruise control "is something we would not rule out in the future."
How DriverFocus works
The 2022 Forester, 2022 Outback, and 2022 Legacy come with Subaru's DriverFocus providing support by warning the driver when it detects signs of distraction, drowsiness at the wheel, driver fatigue, or driver distraction signs. The system uses proprietary facial recognition software.
The Subaru DriverFocus, used since 2019 in the Forester, can distinguish between family members driving the vehicle with facial recognition using five parameters; the relation between eyes, nose, mouth, and chin–and then it automatically adjusts the driver's seat and mirrors to suit that driver. Subaru says that the infra-red camera can even decipher identities when wearing sunglasses.
Because the driver can turn the system off in the 2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Outback, and 2022 Legacy, Consumer Reports says it fails to meet their new requirements. Because the failure affects overall scores, the three models may not be among CR's 2022 autos Top Picks, announced on February 17. Stay tuned.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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