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I plan to post new blog entries several times a month. Facebook knows me as Robert Loveman. I always announce on my status when I've added a new entry. Friend me and you'll get a note.  If you like what you read, the "Blog Archive" includes every blog I've written in chronological order.





July 6, 2024

My New Car

I first learned about subcompact  SUV’s in fall of 2023.  For what I like to do, they’re perfect.  My new Subaru will hold my mountain bike without anything more than putting the back seat down. 

I have a Crosstrek with the Base Trim.  That’s its least equipped version.  Everything that was extra in ancient history—call it 20 years ago—is now standard.  And then some.  The cruise control includes software that keeps the car a given distance from the next car regardless of the speed.  The rear view camera works great.  I can connect my smartphone to an excellent software suite with a USB to USB cable.  And, of course, things like the rear window defroster and electric windows are all standard.  For perspective, the next trim up has a lot of wireless interactions.  These include the ignition where I have to use a key.  My unlock is still a remote but there’s no proximity sensor and I have to push a button.  Oh well.

Particularly with so many features, understanding exactly what is going on has been at least a little interesting.  Among these is an automated system that turns my high beams off.  What Subaru and pretty much everybody else out there says is it’s based on both where cars are and the light available on streets.  It was clearly doing that.  The responses to both taillights and headlights were perfectly timed.  It also clearly sensed streetlights in downtown Seeley Lake.  Finally, the headlights turned on at dusk, but the automatic high beams didn’t come on until it got dark. 

Among the things I did with the new car was drive it on local dirt roads both during the day and the night.  Definitely a new toy.  The first thing I did was make sure I understood how and when I was activating the automatic high beams.  It was after I was certain that I was correctly turning the automatic high beams on and off that I noticed that the high beams turned off without any cars around.  It was then that I got the detail about the illumination being a player. 

I then started to check this out.  On empty roads what seemed to be happening was correlated with speed.  That still could be brightness, but if it were it should change as a function of the light.  The two tests I did were on paved and dirt roads—the paved road was definitely darker—and seeing if the speed changed as the night got darker.  There were actually two speeds.  The high beams turned on when I accelerated to about 21 mph and turned off when I decelerated to 10 mph.  Neither the darker road surface nor the different darkness at night changed either of these speeds. 

The final tests took advantage of the digital read out.  For acceleration, setting the cruise control at 20 mph resulted in nothing.  Adding one and the resultant change in speed turned the high beams on.  The cruise control didn’t drop below 20 mph, so the transition for deceleration was measured by just letting the car coast.  This was easily steady enough to see the change came only when and as soon as the measured speed was 10 mph. 

With this everything fell into place.  The reason I first noticed issues with the automatic high beams while driving on dirt roads was I was going slow.  It seemed to be intermittent because my speeds varied from below 10 to above 21.  Finally, my work around will be to use old style manual high beams under circumstances where I do go slow and I want them on.  This includes my driveway. 

I should add that the most important features I wanted were the gas mileage and a good all-wheel drive system.  I get 32 mpg with mixed mileage.  That’s probably triple the old dog truck.  Winter conditions are five months off, but given Subaru’s continuing reputation on snow—I watched way too many YouTubes dealing with this—I’ll be in shock if this doesn’t do very well.   

Finally, what isn’t a surprise is that while most videos had minor gripes about the two liter engine I now own, I have no issues.  Maybe I’ll be bothered on I-90 crossing the Continental Divide, but I don’t think so.  TBD.

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