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Rear visibility crisis

benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,738
I was in two rentals recently--a Chevy Malibu and a Ford Crown Vic. Both were terrible for rear visibility.

In part this was because of hu-normous head rests (new regs by the feds???), but also because of thick rear roof pillars. What the f... happened to functionality and safety? Esp. in the Malibu it was almost impossible to change lanes left on the fwy safely. It makes using your mirrors essential. But I like to use both mirrors and actually looking back for safety.

When I read car reviews here and in the mags repeatedly test drivers mention bad rear visibility with many new models, including the Sonata, Optima, Accent, etc., etc. Sometimes, as in the Sonata, there is a small rear window, but it's so small from the inside as to be almost totally useless.

Honda seems to still value good visibility, even if not as much as in the past.

But most other car companies have just thrown this essential design element out the window in search of trendy style and sales.

Will this horrible (imho) design trend of hideously thick rear pillars ever end? What's your guess?

What, right now, are the worst cars for rear visibility?

And, more importantly, which vehicles are the best?

I want to be able to advise my sister and my mom on this, since they will be buying cars in the next year.

Comments

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,689
    edited June 2011
    Eventually, cameras will become a requirement.

    My last rental, an Impala, had terrible rear visibility due to stupid tall fixed headrests and a roofline that doesn't work the best.

    I can park my E55 in tight spots using just the mirrors, but it doesn't suffer from the high beltline seen on many newer cars due to "safety" (read: lazy sycophant designers). And my fintail is all glass, a breeze to park in any tight spot.

    I suspect most crossover type things and many SUVs are just about impossible to see out of in tight situations due to thick pillars...and they seem to attract drivers who aren't the best in that driving to begin with.
  • imaginaryimaginary Posts: 60
    Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester; from worst to best rear visibility. One of the reasons why I like Subaru.

    Subaru realizes that their vehicles put the utility in sport utility vehicle and sport utility wagon. Unfortunately Honda and Toyota don't realize that in the CUV segment. Same with Audi, Infiniti, and Nissan. ;D Their cars might look sleek and stylish but it's obvious that comes at a steep price, pun intended. I'm glad too. People who pay for a car like that just for the looks and find out their blind spots could swallow a semi pay the consequences of their actions in blood. Unfortunately it's not just their blood though on the roads.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    I completely agree with you. I am a wagon/SUV/PU person. PU trucks in general are pretty good for rear visibility. My Nissan has an annoying blind spot where they tried to get fancy with the rear corner of the extended cab. Overall my Sequoia is not bad considering its size. The old LS400 is better than 90% of new cars for rear visibility. I fell in love with the Ford Flex when it came out. One of the BIG pluses was rear glancing visibility when I sat in one. I also use my mirrors first but like to take a glance back before changing lanes. With mirrors it is trust but verify for me. I am not sure you could get camera coverage that would cover all sides and back that well.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,617
    I am not sure you could get camera coverage that would cover all sides and back that well.

    Three words: Wide Angle Lens.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    edited July 2011
    I wonder if they would cover the blind spots along side. I never got used to the little round mirrors. Too distorted. I suppose if I had ever been a truck driver I would have learned to trust my mirrors. I don't like the ones on my Nissan Frontier. They show things closer than they are. So I have to turn and look to get distance when backing into a parking spot. I think we have gone several steps backward with our current crop of vehicles. At least from a visibility standpoint. And what is more important than seeing around your vehicle?

    PS
    I like the cameras for seeing directly behind the car. Too many kids run over in their own driveways.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,162
    Funny they mentioned the Crown Vic having terrible rear visibility. I have a Mercury Grand Marquis and have no problem with rear visibility.
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    My wife's Mazda CX-7 is very sporty looking, but at the expense of rear visibility. Fortunately, it does come with a rear view camera that is fantastic when reversing out of parking spaces.

    My Saturn ION has fairly small C-pillars, so looking over my shoulder to change lanes isn't so bad.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,689
    I often back up my modern car into parking spaces simply by looking in the mirrors. Should be a driving skill test when you get a license. The fintail has quite narrow C-pillars - insanely easy car to park.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,738
    Hi lemko: What year is your Crown Vic? I've actually always considered them to be good enough for rear visibility--until this year. Sit in a new 2010 or 2011 Crown Vic (last of the line!), and you'll notice that the rear head rests are almost twice the size of what they used to be on previous models stretching all the way back to 1979...
  • ronsteveronsteve Posts: 435
    That's one of the best things about my Volvo V70 wagon... rear visibility is pretty unobstructed, even more so when I leave the rear seatbacks folded down, which is more than half the time. Even if they're up, when nobody has sat back there for a while, the headrests are often dropped. With the squared corners and narrow pillars, I don't think I've ever backed anything into parking spaces so confidently, even though it has the turning radius of a 747. :P
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,162
    Actually, it's a Grand Marquis which is pretty much a Crown Vic. It's a 2005 model.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,738
    Yeah, I always loved those Volvo wagons--and one the reasons was the great visibility.

    I have what I feel like is a modern-day version of it--a Mazda5, which has good but not great visibility.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,738
    Sounds nice. Did you buy it new?
  • :cry: My family had a '65 Catalina hardtop with great rear visibility, but I wouldn't have wanted to be in it if it rolled over. Whiplash was pretty likely if you were rear-ended (no headrests).

    I currently own a Crosstour, which has caught some Flak because the roof supports "only" 2.8 times the car's 4000+ pounds of weight.

    Look for Federally mandated rear visibility standards down the road, even though previously mandated standards are no small part of the problem. Same could be said for safety (weight) vs. gas mileage requirements.

    All of this can probably be accomplished......at some price.
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