New Toyota Cars Will Automatically Go into Park and Shut the Engine Off

From Car and Driver

  • Many Toyota models will get two new safety features starting with the 2020 model year.
  • The first feature will automatically put the car in park if it detects a risk that it could roll away.
  • The second will automatically shut off the engine after a certain amount of time.

Starting with the 2020 model year, Toyota is adding two new safety technologies to many of its models, calling the move part of the brand’s “relentless commitment to continuous improvement.” The new features are focused on the safety of parked-or almost parked-vehicles.

The first of the two systems is called Automatic Park, which is pretty self-explanatory. In Toyotas with an electronic shifter and/or an electronic parking brake, the car will automatically put itself into park and/or apply the parking brake if it detects the driver has exited the car without putting it into park. This anti-roll-away system is in addition to the existing visual and audio warnings that Toyotas already have to indicate when the vehicle is not in park.

The other system is called Auto Shut Off. An extension of Toyota’s Smart Key, which has been around since 2003 and alerts the driver when the engine is still running, the new system will automatically turn off the engine after a certain amount of time. Toyota doesn’t say how long the car will wait before shutting the engine off, but it says the car will also produce “enhanced” audible and visual warnings. In the future, a Toyota smartphone app will have additional reminders.

Toyota doesn’t say which of its cars will get these features, but we have a good idea based on the descriptions of them. Because the Automatic Park system is only available on cars with electronic shifters or parking brakes, that rules out older vehicles like the 4Runner and the Land Cruiser, which have old-school shifters, and cars such as the 86 that still use manual parking brakes. The Auto Shut Off system is likely to be introduced on more models, but likely only ones that have push-button start.

Toyota also doesn’t say when these features will begin to be rolled out, but with some 2020 model Toyotas already on sale now, it should be very soon.

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