I Think Honda LaneWatch Is Awesome

Doug DeMuro
by Doug DeMuro
i think honda lanewatch is awesome

I recently made a troubling discovery. Samsung, noted manufacturer of telephones the size of a license plate, is now producing a refrigerator with Twitter. Let me repeat that for those of you who merely skim my articles (Hi, mom!). Samsung manufacturers a refrigerator with Twitter.

The refrigerator’s screen (which also includes other similarly useless apps) is located just above where you get ice. This is highly convenient. Primarily, it’s convenient for Samsung, who will gladly replace the screen for thousands of dollars when you get it wet. But it’s also convenient for you, the refrigerator operator, since it allows you to get ice and tweet: I just got ice.

I know what you’re thinking: Is this going to be about cars? And the answer is: only sort of. At this point, you’re more than forgiven if you’d rather see what Sajeev has written today. (Bye, mom!)

The theme of all this is that technology is coming, whether you like it or not. I still remember, years ago, thinking “yeah, right!” when I heard they were going to put cameras in cell phones. Now, I can use my phone to take a photo of my iced drink, tweet the photo, and then re-tweet it using my refrigerator. (No, I have no idea how Twitter works.)

Of course, technology’s ever-expanding reach is also affecting modern cars. The best example of this is Toyota’s Entune navigation system, which you can now use to get movie reviews, buy movie tickets, and make restaurant reservations. According to Toyota, this does not lead to distracted driving, an assertion which is apparently believed by the NHTSA and no one else.

Hyundai Blue Link offers a far creepier take on infotainment. Yes, you can do the normal stuff, like use Pandora and re-tweet your twitters (or something). But you can also set up a geographical perimeter and receive text messages every time the car leaves it. This is a wonderful idea pitched as a benefit to families with young drivers, though it will almost exclusively be used by families with cheating spouses.

Blue Link can also send you a text message every time the car exceeds a certain speed. This one actually is brilliant, since it allows you to confront your spouse about where he went and how fast he got there. Imagine the court transcript: “Defendant was tracked to Stacy’s home on Thursday, May 9, using Hyundai Blue Link. Defendant travelled there at 87 miles per hour.”

More Technology

Beyond infotainment, we have to contend with new technology in other areas. Take, for example, BMW’s latest turn signal mechanism. Here’s how it works: you press the signal. It stays on, but pops back into the normal position. So you press it the other way to cancel it, which causes the other signal to turn on. Eventually, you’re killed in a fiery crash as you try and figure out how the hell the turn signal works. BMW is not totally opposed to this, since it means you can no longer complain on the JD Power surveys.

Personally, I’m of the belief that we don’t really need any new technology in the world of turn signals. That’s because every car in the history of the automobile has used pretty much the same system, and it works quite well. But there’s one new feature that’s really gotten me excited: Honda LaneWatch. Although Alex L. Dykes isn’t a fan, I’m here to provide a counterpoint.

LaneWatch is standard on all Accords above the EX trim level, which is all the Accords you’d buy, because you’re not a cheap bastard, am I right? Here’s how it works: first, you press the right turn signal. Immediately afterwards, a camera turns on that displays literally every single thing on the right side of your vehicle. Seriously: when I’m in Atlanta heading north, the camera shows the next lane, the neighborhood to my right, the next county, and – if I’m on a slight incline – most of the Atlantic Ocean.

I recently had a Honda Accord press car with LaneWatch, and I was so impressed by the feature that I didn’t use the passenger mirror once throughout the entirety of my time with the car. This is pretty cool: a camera that completely takes the place of a side-view mirror. Concept cars have teased the idea for years, but here I was actually experiencing it in a $25,000 Honda Accord!

Where LaneWatch does become gimmicky is that you can turn it on and monitor things without the turn signal activated. While this can be enjoyable, it’s possibly the only thing more distracting than using your touchscreen to buy movie tickets. Still, when used for its intended purpose, LaneWatch is tremendously helpful. The picture’s clear, it’s aimed exactly where you want, and – to help you decide if it’s safe to change lanes – it even displays three different on-screen lines: Green, Yellow, and BMW Driver.

When I gave back the Accord and returned to my LaneWatch-less SUV, I began to realize just how much technology is missing from my life. So I did the only rational thing I could think of: I drove straight to the store and joined the 21st century. And I love it. This message was sent from my refrigerator.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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7 of 104 comments
  • Redrum Redrum on May 14, 2013

    Am I the only one who just angles his side mirrors outwards to cover the blind spots? Works brilliantly. There's really no need to have your side mirror pointed at your doors, unless you're Robert DeNiro in "Heat" and have to look out for guys trying to sneak up and whack you.

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    • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on May 14, 2013

      My experience is that most power mirrors won't go wide enough to eliminate the blind spot. Convex mirrors would fix that, at the cost of judging distances.

  • CelticPete CelticPete on May 15, 2013

    Your mirrors should be set to eliminate blind spots. It makes some parking maneuvers a little harder - but you can always reset them. http://www.caranddriver.com/features/how-to-adjust-your-mirrors-to-avoid-blind-spots That being said this technology is nice. People have been doing this on a custom basis for a while now. A read about a guy who put this kind of system in his Dodge Challenger. He actually added a front camera too to help with parking. That will absolutely be the way of the future.

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    • Salguod Salguod on May 15, 2013

      I just came to link to the same article. I've used that technique for some 18 years and it eliminates probably 95% of the blind spots. That said, a wider field of view would be beneficial and any system that simply lets me see better as opposed to warning beeps or flashing lights or, god forbid, mechanical intervention is a plus.

  • SCE to AUX A plug-in hybrid requires two fuels to realize the benefit of having that design. This is where the Volt fell down.It could be either:[list][*]A very short-range EV[/*][*]A long-range ICE with mediocre fuel economy[/*][*]An excellent mid-range vehicle that required both a plug and gasoline.[/*][/list]If you wanted a short-range EV you got a Leaf (like I did). If you wanted a long-range car with good fuel economy, you got a Civic/Elantra/Cruze/Corolla. In my case, we also had an Optima Hybrid.I'd personally rather have a single-fuel vehicle - either gas/hybrid or electric - rather than combine the complexity and cost of both into one vehicle.
  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.