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Toyota Adds Two New Safety Features to Save You From Yourself

img 957280894 1550875920142 jpg 2020 Toyota Corolla | photos by Fred Meier

Toyota is rolling out two safety features to help keep your vehicle from rolling away or filling the garage with fumes if you’re absent minded when getting out. It says the features will be added to Toyota and Lexus models starting with the 2020 model year.

Related: What’s New With Toyota in 2019?

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The first feature is an automatic engine shutoff for “most” 2020 vehicles equipped with a proximity key (a key fob you can leave in your pocket or purse while you unlock the vehicle or start it). Since 2003, Toyota vehicles with this capability, which Toyota calls its Smart Key System, have activated an alert if you get out with the engine still running. Now the system will be even smarter and shut off the engine on its own after a set amount of time if you leave it running. The audible and visual alerts also have been beefed up, and Toyota says that later it will add a reminder through its smartphone app.

Toyota also will begin to “phase in” a second feature — automatic park — starting with 2020 models, that will automatically shift a vehicle’s transmission to Park and/or set the parking brake if you get out without selecting Park. A Toyota spokesperson told that details about which vehicles and when are still to come. The capability will apply to vehicles that have a nontraditional electronic shifter and/or an electronic parking brake. Currently, Toyota vehicles give audible and visual warnings if you open the door without selecting Park, and it says its nontraditional shifters also have a separate button for Park to help drivers not be forgetful about whether they put the vehicle in Park.

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Some other brands already have a similar feature for nontraditional electronic shifters, notably FCA, which accelerated a recall in 2016 to add an automatic park feature to its electronic shifters following the death of “Star Trek” actor Anton Yelchin, who was pinned to a mailbox pillar by his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee in a rollaway incident.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Photo of Fred Meier
Former D.C. Bureau Chief Fred Meier, who lives every day with Washington gridlock, has an un-American love of small wagons and hatchbacks. Email Fred Meier

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