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If you’ve been shopping for a Toyota, you may have noticed that many models come with both a Toyota Safety Sense system and a Toyota Star Safety system. While these both improve the safety of any given Toyota model, they go about it in different ways.

A Toyota car in an factory gets a safety inspection.
Toyota offers a vareity of safety features. | FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP via Getty Images

What is Toyota Safety Sense?

Toyota Safety Sense is a suite of active driver assistance features. The goal of these features is to prevent accidents from happening or mitigate their severity. Toyota has been quite generous with these features for a while now offering them as standard on the bulk of its lineup. If you’re shopping for a Toyota, you may see this system abbreviated as “TSS.”

There have been a few different generations of the Toyota Safety Sense system. The newer the system, the more features are bundled together, and the more sophisticated the technology. Lexus models use a very similar system, but it goes by the name Lexus Safety System+.

Toyota Safety Sense generations

TSS-P: This is the original TSS system, and it’s still pretty high-tech by today’s standards. It comes with Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams.

Most of those features are self-explanatory. Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is also known as adaptive cruise control. It automatically keeps a safe distance from the car in front of you while cruise control is on.

TSS 2.0: The TSS 2.0 system improves upon the features of TSS-P and adds Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist.

TSS 2.5 & 2.5+: These systems have mostly the same features as TSS 2.0, but better. The emergency steering assist feature in the 2.5+ system can detect cyclists and vehicles in addition to pedestrians. The “plus” in “2.5+” also adds Curve Speed Management with adaptive cruise control.

TSS 3.0: Along with an improvement to the tech in the previous systems, TSS 3.0 adds Proactive Driving Assist. “When system operating conditions are met, using the vehicle’s camera and radar,” according to Toyota, “Proactive Driving Assist (PDA) provides gentle braking into curves or gentle braking and/or steering to help support driving tasks such as distance control between your vehicle and a preceding vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist.

What is Toyota Star Safety?

The Toyota Star Safety system is a set of safety features that apply more to the mechanical operation of the vehicle rather than automated technology. Some version of the Toyota Star Safety system is standard on every new Toyota model.

The Toyota Star Safety system includes vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, and brake assist.

Vehicle stability control reduces engine power and applies brake force to wheels that need it if it detects a loss of traction. This is similar to traction control, which applies brake force to spinning wheels in slippery conditions. These two systems working together greatly improve traction and stability on snowy and rainy roads.

Anti-lock brakes do what their name implies; they prevent the brakes from locking up in an emergency stop by “pulsing” the brakes. Electronic brake-force distribution is also pretty self-explanatory; it ensures that all four brakes get an even level of braking to maintain stability. Brake assist is able to detect a sudden emergency braking situation and apply extra braking for a safer and quicker stop.

Which Toyota Safety System is better?

The Toyota Star Safety System is great, but it’s a bundle of features that comes standard on almost all new cars, so it’s not very unique to Toyota. The Toyota Safety Sense system is more high-tech and comes with features that you might not find on similarly priced competitors.

The TSS systems also make driving a little more convenient and relaxed, improving safety by preventing and mitigating accidents.

Luckily, you don’t need to pick one system over the other. Both systems come standard on most new Toyota models, and many used models from recent years.


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