Dear Car Talk:
I talked to you and your brother years ago on your radio show and ended up taking your advice and selling my ancient VW Squareback for a slightly used 1997 BMW coupe. The BMW made me a very sporty professor.
Well, now I have a husband and large dogs and really need to get out of this coupe, which is slowly turning into dust. My husband is a worrier, and he seems to think until COVID-19 is completely over, we can't go look at cars -- even though we are vaccinated and we can look at cars outdoors.
Since the man is a worrier, I am thinking that I should leverage his worry into a new or even slightly-used Subaru Outback. How can I convince him that the safety features on that car would make a big difference to our health? -- Linda
Tell him you're getting the special Outback Remdesivir edition, Linda.
If your man is worried about safety, he should be running to the Subaru dealership -- wearing an N95 mask, a face guard and a bio-containment level 3 suit -- and thrusting piles of cash at the dealer until they agree to sell you a late model Outback.
Or use one of the late-model used-car delivery services like Shift or Carvana to bring a car of your choice to your driveway. A new, 2020 or 2019 Outback will protect you in ways that the people who designed your 1997 BMW could never have imagined.
We're living through a revolution in automotive safety right now. And it's all being driven by the push for self-driving cars. As engineers work toward cars that can safely drive themselves, they're creating safety systems that are supplementing human brains and saving lots of lives.
Unlike your BMW, a Subaru with EyeSight (Subaru's name for its safety package) will watch the road ahead, and if it notices a car has slowed or stopped in your path and determines that you're not slowing down quickly enough, it'll alert you, and, if necessary, apply the brakes itself. That's called pre-collision warning and automatic emergency braking.
If you're daydreaming and trying to figure out where to put the semicolon in the title of your next academic paper, and you start to veer out of your lane, the Outback will correct you and nudge you back into your lane. That's called lane keeping assist. If someone pulls up into your blind spot on the highway, and you don't notice them, a light will flash on your side view mirror and warn you not to change lanes. That's blind spot monitoring. And if you're backing out of your driveway, and someone comes down the street out of your view, the car will alert you using rear cross traffic alert.
Best of all, if you're sitting at a traffic light, reading lame email excuses from students whose papers are late and don't notice that the light turned green and the cars ahead of you have moved, the car will use the forward collision sensors and beep at you to get moving. OK, that won't save your life, but if the guy behind you in a Mayflower moving van lays on his horn, it could cause you to hit the roof and get a welt on your head. So Subaru's looking out for you.
Add that to the all-wheel-drive system, which will keep you safer in wet and snowy weather, and you can make an airtight case that a late model Outback will meaningfully increase your safety. As long as you survive the dealership. Good luck, Linda.