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Toyota brings advanced safety tech to low-priced models

New safety package will be offered first in Toyota RAV4 hybrid and Lexus RX models

Published: March 31, 2015, 12:10 PM
Updated: April 3, 2015, 4:03 PM

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota says it's raising the bar and lowering the price on safety. The company will announce the availability of new advanced safety technology packages on the Toyota RAV4 hybrid and Lexus RX models that will make their debuts at the New York International Auto Show this week.

The move is a major step towards making automated driver assist technologies available to mainstream vehicle drivers, the company says.

Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) will be offered in two different packages: TSS C for compact cars and TSS P for mid-sized and premium models. The optional packages will include automatic emergency braking, lane departure alert technology and other electronic safety systems for prices around $300 and $500 (US), respectively – in the U.S.

A parallel Lexus system (LSS) will have a more advanced suite of technologies, with prices from about $500 to $635 (US).

Toyota has promised to deploy the systems in most light vehicles and trim levels in Japan, the U.S. and Europe by 2017. Presumably, Canadian availability will parallel that of the U.S.

The systems will be available first in the RAV4 hybrid and Lexus RX and will be rolled out to other models throughout the year.

The TSS C system uses a camera and laser radar to detect objects ahead of the vehicle, prompts the driver to brake if a crash is likely, and boosts braking power if the driver reacts. If the driver fails to respond, the system brakes automatically to prevent or mitigate any collision.

It also includes lane-departure technology and a system that automatically switches between high and low beam headlights.

TSS P includes the same features but uses more advanced technology combining a camera and millimeter-wave radar. In addition, it is able to identify pedestrians in the roadway and it includes dynamic cruise control, which can slow the vehicle automatically to maintain a safe following distance behind other vehicles on highways.

The Lexus system is said to be even more refined. It can warn drivers of dangers through steering-wheel vibrations in addition to audio and visual signals.