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2000 miles with a new Touring XT - She's always watching


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TLDR: The Outback/Legacy driver monitor only pretends to deactivate and will come back to life if the car deems it necessary. This is awful engineering behavior, and I won't pay for more of it.

 

This is not the car I wanted; this was the devil I knew. After spending a year part time driving my wife's 2020 Outback, I conceded that maybe I really didn't need a gas guzzling GS350, an abused A4 lease refugee, or a (gen 1) TLX with its Fisher Price interior. I could get a mid-sized AWD drive sedan with a turbo, leather, and all the toys that drinks 87 octane and comes with a warranty. And I could get it for MSRP in the middle of the post-COVID manufacturing slump.

 

So, I traded our Crosstrek and took a chance on the unloved Gen 7. I knew - from my Outback experience - to immediately disable most of the noisy safety junk. I was prepared to be annoyed that Auto Vehicle Hold takes two eternal screen presses to activate ... and then deactivates on shutdown for some asinine reason. Auto Stop Start is violent, but I the 2021s have the screen shutoff at the ready. I knew that the head unit ran on some kind of ancient Denso potato chip that couldn't hold a candle to an iPhone 4. I knew that the CVT frequently argues with the turbo; that the seats are a bit wooden; and that the wheels look like they were designed by a portly suburban dad with fading tribal bro tattoos.

 

There is one thing that still continuously surprises and irks me in this first month+ of ownership, though, and it has left me questioning any future purchases from this brand.

 

The driver monitoring system does not ever shut "off."

 

There are severe disconnects between Subaru's engineering teams when crafting a coherent user experience, and there also seems to be a bit of high-handed coercion and social engineering being exercised by brand managers and compliance geeks that conspire to undermine my enjoyment and trust of this car. There are several niggling UX fails and "features" that I could (and will) point out, but the driver monitoring system is the one issue that neatly encapsulates all of the problems I've seen in this car's UI/UX.

 

If it wasn't for the fact that Subaru has proven to me over and over that Starlink can barely do what it states it will do, I'd be more paranoid about their nannycam and what it is secretly recording. As it stands, the damn thing is just annoying. It has one useful feature - scan your face and change the seat position based on the driver. It's a neat party trick, and it makes it look like you purchased something more fanceh than a mid-market family hauler. But the buttons on the door do the same job and far more reliably. What it also does:

 

- Beep at you and post an all-caps KarenPanic message if you lean forward to have your back scratched while on a road trip

- Beep and panic post while you are trying to read address numbers while crawling at 10mph

- Beep/panic if you rest your cheek on your hand and distort your face in a way that Potato Chip can't process

- Beep/panic if the sun is at the wrong angle

 

You can and should shut this garbage off. I did, and, to Subaru's credit, the setting stuck, even has I still have to turn on Auto Vehicle Hold and turn off emergency Karen braking EVERY TIME I DRIVE. But, dear friends, this is all lies. That camera never stops processing. First, it always comes on at startup, because it has to read your face to know to "shut itself off" when you get in the car. If it reads another person's face, it turns on and happily Karen Panics for their drive. Fair enough. But even when it reads your face and activates your "off" setting, it is still watching you.

 

Pull out at a T junction and slam your accelerator. Wind that poor bicycle chain out to red line while adopting a lean foward/face squish/eye squint posture, and, I guarantee you that KarenCam will leap back to life to Panic. And you will have to dig back into the menu and shut her off again, because you have proven that you cannot be trusted, naughty boy.

 

I don't know the exact parameters that cause the Outback/Legacy system to drop its "off" ruse and scream at you, but, like the psychotic emergency braking, it doesn't appear to be much. I've seen it happen twice now, and it makes me livid.

 

The kicker in all of this? Subaru's software team - while knowingly leaving the camera on - won't allow you to use it for seat profile selection UNLESS you also leave the Karen Panic Beeps on as well. That, my friends, is not an engineering limitation. That's a pure, unadulterated D move.

 

Subaru, your stereo camera auto cruise, radar blind spot monitors, and bumper proximity sensors are almost flawless. Love them. But the rest your your safety suite is ham fisted, half baked, and/or nastily coercive. Your emergency braking jumps at shadows. Your lane keep assist ping pongs. And your driver monitoring system is noisy and truly useless. If you are going to make it your policy to deny your customers the choice of truly disabling these systems or, worse, LIE to them about those choices, I will not be interested in future purchases.

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I have none of the issues you have with my 2021 Limited XT. I love the car and can't wait to get in it and drive it every day.

 

It seems like you knew you were going to hate the car before you even bought it. That begs the question: Why on earth did you buy it?

 

It's a good time to sell a used car. I think that might be your best course of action in this case.

 

Sent from my SM-G781V using Tapatalk

'21 Limited XT

Subaru Ambassador since 2015

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Don't have that driver monitoring thing in my Canadian Limited turbo but I read before to disable it truly to put a strip of dark window tint across it and the problem is solved.

 

Even if it resorts to turning itself back on it can't see you. Black electrical tape would probably work even better and easier to install and remove.

 

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk

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I have none of the issues you have with my 2021 Limited XT. I love the car and can't wait to get in it and drive it every day.

 

It seems like you knew you were going to hate the car before you even bought it. That begs the question: Why on earth did you buy it?

 

The "Subaru Ambassador" has no issues... Pardon my skepticism.

 

Every car has issues. Every car purchase is a balance and a compromise between desires, resources, and availability. Nobody makes a Volvo body with a BMW drivetrain, Lexus interior, Audi displays, and Acura SH-AWD at a Camry price. The Legacy has myriad issues, which are readily evident to anyone who drives it regularly and dynamically. Most of these issues are cost and mileage compromises that I readily accept, given its market positioning and the fact that the ride, cabin noise, features, handling, and interior volume and quality punch far above the price point.

 

Other issues are the result of, frankly, subpar software development. This driver monitor problem (as well as the emergency braking reset) is a unique mix of incompetence and crappy political behavior at the expense of the customer. It is very fixable through a software update, and Subaru should do so.

 

I am absolutely planning to physically disable this "feature". However, an interesting point raised here is that this may not be a problem in Canada. US-only regulatory shenanigans?

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One side of me agrees with you, no arguments. The other side says life is too short. Blind the system and enjoy your car for what it is or sell it.

 

Remember when a car only had to get it's occupants from A to B safely and reliably to be considered a good car? Those days are gone, reliable transportation being secondary. Yes, today people are more concerned with the electronic wizbangery than they are that the car still does what it's intended to do. I long for the old days.

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Sounds like you should trade in the touring and get a limited. subaru is always late to adopting new technologies and when they do it's not that great. people buy subarus for the awd system and the 'life style' of which ever model they buy. the sterotypes are pretty true for which ever model you own.

 

remember back in the early 2000's when they tried onstar? oh goodness.

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The "Subaru Ambassador" has no issues... Pardon my skepticism.

 

Every car has issues. Every car purchase is a balance and a compromise between desires, resources, and availability. Nobody makes a Volvo body with a BMW drivetrain, Lexus interior, Audi displays, and Acura SH-AWD at a Camry price. The Legacy has myriad issues, which are readily evident to anyone who drives it regularly and dynamically. Most of these issues are cost and mileage compromises that I readily accept, given its market positioning and the fact that the ride, cabin noise, features, handling, and interior volume and quality punch far above the price point.

 

Other issues are the result of, frankly, subpar software development. This driver monitor problem (as well as the emergency braking reset) is a unique mix of incompetence and crappy political behavior at the expense of the customer. It is very fixable through a software update, and Subaru should do so.

 

I am absolutely planning to physically disable this "feature". However, an interesting point raised here is that this may not be a problem in Canada. US-only regulatory shenanigans?

 

Be as skeptical as you like. :) I wouldn't be a Subaru Ambassador if I didn't love their cars and think they make great products.

 

I'm not saying I've never had an issue where something didn't work as I expected. Sure I have. But I have worked in and around electronics and computers long enough not to expect them to be flawless. If you've found some that work flawlessly, I'd love to hear about them. :)

 

Has my DriverFocus system not recognized me? Yup, but only when I didn't get in and face it while it was scanning. The only times it's griped at me for not having my eyes on the road were when my eyes weren't on the road (:redface:) or it couldn't see my face because I was inadvertently blocking the camera. If it ever did start griping at me needlessly, I'd take it in for service and physically disable it if they couldn't fix it. Since mine works well, I've never disabled it so I can't speak to whether it reenables itself or "lies" about being disabled. That could be something that is broken on your car that could be remedied if you wanted it fixed.

 

Has my car ever slammed on the brakes needlessly? Nope. Never. I'd take it in to get it looked at if it ever did.

 

As far as the car resetting certain options goes, in all of the cases I've heard about, this is for mileage or safety reasons. I'm pretty sure the Auto Start/Stop turns itself back on so that Subaru could get the MPG where they wanted it. If it could just be easily and permanently disabled, I'm not sure the EPA would approve the mileage numbers. The AVH and other systems tied to braking, etc. reset because if you forgot it was set (or disabled) or another driver got in and a safety feature was disabled that potentially caused an accident that would open Subaru up for getting sued. Subaru will always err on the side of safety vs. convenience. I've driven a lot of other cars from other manufacturers that did the same thing.

 

Cars aren't perfect but you aren't stuck with them either. If you have one that is less perfect than you expected, get it fixed or get rid of it. Like I said before, now is the perfect time to sell a used vehicle, but it won't be that way for long.

 

I'm sure there are some bugs still in the systems (they all use code written by humans after all), and I'm also sure Subaru will address them in future updates. But I don't think the software as a whole is fundamentally flawed because a lot of us don't have the issues you've described.

 

If you feel it is fundamentally flawed, take it in. Give Subaru a chance to fix it or make things right if they can't. Not doing so makes it seem like you just want to complain and don't want a solution. If it ends up being bad programming that they can't fix, then you should get rid of it and move on.

'21 Limited XT

Subaru Ambassador since 2015

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Subaru ... If you are going to make it your policy to deny your customers the choice of truly disabling these systems ... I will not be interested in future purchases.

Sounds like Subaru is not the car for you. In all honesty, it sounds like you are not likely to be satisfied with any new car or its active safety features.

 

If you are truly experiencing frequent collision-avoidance emergency braking by EyeSight, you really need a serious review of your personal driving habits and style. I am not a timid driver, but my personal experience in our 2015 Legacy and 2016 Outback is that intervention by EyeSight is a very rare occurrence. I'm seldom aware that EyeSight's even there. Like any machine, I've adapted to our Subarus' characteristics; I never expect the machine to adapt to me.

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." ~ The Cheshire Cat (Alice in Wonderland)

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We've only had the wife's Limited 2022 for a week but so far, no bugs. And also so far, we've adapted well to the nanny bot. Coming from an ES car anyway may have helped but this car is far more "involved" with the driving experience. It's scolds me sometimes for looking at my wife when she's talking. No false braking yet but I did get a VERY early warning once. It seems this car's ES is a bit more sensitive than her 19 Legacy. Once it even flashed a red sign that said STAY ALERT. Didn't know it could do that and still don't know what caused it.

Life is too short and we don't take ourselves so seriously that we let a cocky car ruin our day. It is what it is and if the screen gets to out of line it'll go back to the dealer for a fix and SOA will get a letter from an employee.

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I have a 2020 Legacy XT that was manufactured and acquired by me in July of 2020 and I’ve never had the DMS system come back on by itself. Occasionally it is off when I start the car up. I normally turn it off myself on sunny days because I wear prescription glasses and use fit-over sunglasses when in the car. The DMS system cannot handle 2 layers of lenses - prescription + fit-overs. It will disable itself every time within a few minutes. If I don’t place the fit-overs on it will function perfectly but that’s only on cloudy or overcast days when I’m not using them.

 

When I’ve left the system on its warnings have always been appropriate and appreciated. I do not use the driver recognition feature since I’m the only driver. So for me the only issue is the 2 sets of lenses, those that don’t use 2 sets of lenses should have few issues.

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  • 1 month later...

I bought a 2021 Touring XT in June and have 3,600 miles on it. I hate that driver monitoring system. I'm the only driver so the seat setting is never changed. I don't like the electronic backseat driver telling me to keep my eyes on the road or pay attention. It constantly gives false positives and the service department says its working as intended. I tried a bit of tape over it to see what it would do. It lets out a beep after a quarter mile as it disables itself and does it every time I start the car. I'm trying to get way from unnecessary beeps, not cause them. Its also so intermittent about enabling itself. It will stay off up to a half dozen times, then out of the blue enable itself. Or it will enable itself ever single time I start the car for a day or two. Then I find myself digging through three menus to shut it off again. Its infuriating.

 

I don't use or like the lane keep assist and once I turn it off it has stayed off for three months now. The blind spot monitoring is perfect. The rear cross traffic alert and braking are perfect. The auto emergency braking has only had one false positive cresting a hill. But that damned DriverFocus nanny won't stay off.

 

Is there any way to permanently disable just that module? Is there any way to flash the software to a lower trim level's that doesn't have that system? I'm am seriously considering getting rid of the car. Its pissing me off that much. Yes, I'm kind of manic about little irritations when they're constant. I focus on them and it bugs me to death. This is one of them in a big way and I've never had an issue with any car in 30+ years of buying new ones that's bothered me so much. I called Subaru NA and the representative logged the complaint and did say they are scheduled to have a software update in October. I doubt it will do anything with this specific thing. A least he did agree with me that when you turn it off it should stay off.

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…And I could get it for MSRP in the middle of the post-COVID manufacturing slump.

 

My neck is getting sore from shaking my head these days. Are you from the future? COVID is not even close to “post” and continues to thrive today.

 

I’m regards to the actual topic of conversation, I think you’d be happier with a different car. No car is perfect, but your post has so much emotion in it, it might be better for your mental health to part ways with it.

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  • 10 months later...

No issues with my Legacy and my Samsung.  

Did you try to turn up the volume while on the phone?  Also did you check the volume level on your phone?

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21 minutes ago, laufu said:

No issues with my Legacy and my Samsung.  

Did you try to turn up the volume while on the phone?  Also did you check the volume level on your phone?

Phone volume is up all the way, in settings,incoming call volume is up all the way and the volume is up all the way. compared to my former Impreza and my other car, a Dodge minivan, the volume on the Legacy is very weak. People on the other end practically have to shout for me to hear them.  I'm bringing it in for some service in a coupla days and I'm gonna have them look into  this.

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23 hours ago, Xraytoken said:

Phone volume is up all the way, in settings,incoming call volume is up all the way and the volume is up all the way. compared to my former Impreza and my other car, a Dodge minivan, the volume on the Legacy is very weak. People on the other end practically have to shout for me to hear them.  I'm bringing it in for some service in a coupla days and I'm gonna have them look into  this.

Sorry for your issues.  I have another idea. Go to settings, delete your phone connection then reconnect.  

Out of curiosity, does your CCU have the latest software update?

Edited by laufu
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Well, they fixed the volume issue. I have no idea what was wrong or what they did to fix it. They just said it was fine and there was nothing wrong. I think that's bullshit, but I'm happy the volume issue is resolved. Still don't like this POS and I'll probably trade it in for something else in about a year.

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