2017 Toyota Corolla

2017 Toyota Corolla

Once upon a time, features we take for granted as nearly standard new-car equipment like power windows, automatic transmissions, cruise control and air conditioning were once reserved almost solely for the market’s top-line models.

Technology becomes cheaper and more accessible, and eventually, the industry starts offering once-pricey features as standard-kit.

Toyota is about to start exemplifying this trend on the safety front, having recently announced that they’ll make Automatic Emergency Braking, or AEB, standard across virtually their entire model range by the end of 2017.

In effect, the Toyota Safety Sense technology package, which utilizes AEB as a core offering, will be rolled out as standard equipment on the vast majority of Toyota models in the immediate future.

AEB technology started life in North America, largely, as an optional feature available on high-dollar luxury cars, some years back.

Today, it’s available optionally in many less-expensive models, and later this year, it will become a standard feature on the 2017 Corolla, before rolling out on the standard equipment list of virtually all other Toyota models.

With the ability to detect forward obstacles, warn drivers of potential collision situations, and even self-apply vehicle brakes to prevent certain types of low-speed impacts, Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is a potentially life-saving safety system that’s steadily been decreasing in price and expanding in availability.

Further, AEB technology has been recognized by industry authorities, including the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), who now counts the technology as a requisite for earning their highest safety award.

Automatic Emergency Braking technology works on simple principle, and is commonly powered by a forward-mounted camera or radar transponder that tracks the closing rate between the equipped vehicle, and the next vehicle, in traffic.

Get up too close, too quickly on another vehicle, or exceed a pre-set threshold, and the system can take action that ranges from issuing driver alerts, to self-application of the brakes, to mitigate or even prevent certain types of collisions at a wide range of speeds, and in a wide range of driving conditions.

The underlying goal is providing drivers with early warning. The system can identify a slow or stationary vehicle up the road before the driver notices it themselves, and early brake application can be activated automatically to prevent collisions, or reduce their severity.

Even a highly skilled and attentive driver can have a momentary lapse in attention, and for them, and others, AEB can be a life saver. In fact, at higher speeds when an impact is inevitable, AEB can reduce the vehicle impact speed by some 30 km/h.

Toyota’s AEB technology is already available as a low-cost option on numerous models, and by next year, 25 out of 30 Toyota and Lexus models will include it as standard.

Toyota says that model-specific target dates for offering these advanced, active safety packages as standard equipment will be announced later, and that exceptions include the include Lexus GX, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota 86 (jointly developed with Subaru), and the Toyota Yaris Sedan (developed by Mazda).

Pricing has not been announced, though sources suggest that shoppers can expect minimal, if any, changes to vehicle pricing.

And remember that AEB technology is just one part of the soon-to-be-standard Toyota Safety Sense system, which also includes other technologies that work with safe driving for maximum confidence, like Automatic High Beams, Lane Departure Alert, and Brake Assist, which automatically boosts stopping power when brakes are suddenly applied.

So, when Toyota launches its updated Corolla for 2017, all of the above features will be standard, even on the most basic versions of the car and most other Toyota models will soon follow suit. Other manufacturers are likely to follow.

This, folks, is how automakers raise the bar and drive more and more value, and safety, for the consumer.