This week, while my car was in the shop, I got a loaner 2019 Subara Impreza with some fancy features. Perhaps the first I noticed was that it had the push button start that doesn’t require taking out the key. I soon discovered that I could open the doors by touching the inside of the handle, start the car with the touch of a button, drive, stop with the start button, and then lock by touching a spot on the handle, all with the key fob in my pocket. It, in fact didn’t have a key at all, just the fob with some buttons. Probably a problem if the battery dies, but it was pretty nice for me.

The car had a big touch screen and other LCD panels for the radio, gauges, etc. The lack of the tactile feel of buttons did make it harder to do some things while driving, but the large size helped. As fancy as the radio was, it didn’t have one feature mine does: Mine fades out the music nicely when turned off.

It came with Syrius radio. It took me a little while to figure out how to navigate the system. It had a lot of channels, with many focused on specific sub-genres. Sometimes it seemed a little compressed or something, but that may have just been the sound of the system. I mostly listened to my iPod, which also sounded a bit off from what I’m used to. The Syrius also had occasional problems with cutting out, particularly under bridges and trees and seemingly certain areas. Probably not something I’d pay for, but it was cool to have with the loaner experience.

The headlights turned on automatically when needed. The cabin lights and little lights on the side mirrors would turn on as I approached the car at night.

It had lots of safety features. Some of them scared me at first, and could be annoying at times. It had lane departure warnings which went off a lot for me as I tend to move toward the sides of the lanes to give wide berth to other traffic. I think it had a proximity sensor, which sometimes went crazy in tight parking lots, even when there was no impending collision. It had the backup camera, which I couldn’t fully get used to, but certainly seemed nice for seeing behind down low. It had little lights on the side mirrors that turned on when cars were in the blind spot region.

The most fancy of safety features it had was that, with cruise control on, it would slow to match the speed of the car ahead if need be. It worked well. I didn’t have people cut too close in front or anything when it was on, but it did start to slow me down fairly quickly as I came up on some stop and go traffic on the highway, though I took over well before there was any risk of collision. It definitely seemed cool, though I’d worry I might let my guard down if I used it a lot, or even forget that it’s not on when I’m in control, or driving other cars.

It had a similar acceleration problem on the low end of speed as my car, showing more power at higher speeds. I’m not sure if that’s related to the CVT, engine, tuning of the car, or what.

It was cool to get to play with this technology for the week. I’m more comfortable back in my own car though.