Citizens of the internet, we need to speak on a subject. Call me old fashioned, but one of the things I look for most in any car is the ability to see out of it when I’m driving it. It doesn’t seem like the designers of new cars these days share my feelings.
As I strolled the show floor of the Los Angeles Auto Show during the media days and sat in a bunch of different cars, I was struck by how many of them have abhorrent rearward visibility.
In part, it’s a safety thing: thicker C-pillars mean more structural integrity. I get that. But I also figure that it has something to do with the design language of new cars. Too often, people want the word “sporty” to be applied to their sedan, coupe, hatchback, SUV or crossover regardless of whether or not it’s actually true. The result is a design that has a high belt-line, a fat C-pillar and a viciously slanted rear window. After all of that, there’s hardly any room left to add the windows.
It’s also not lost on me that it’s also just harder to see out of a car when you’re a small person, like me. So to make this fun little test as realistic as possible, I scooted all the seats up as high as they would go and then looked around. And then I left the seats where they were after I exited the vehicle in a fit of passive aggression.
Some cars are better at it than others. Here are some of the ones I scoped out at the show.
The Countryman isn’t terrible and this is because the rear window is pretty much vertical instead of slanted. The C-pillars are still fatter than I would prefer. But if you have two people sitting in the back seats (which are actually pretty roomy), then their heads might be in the way of you seeing what’s behind you.
Mercedes-AMG GT R
Granted, few two-seat coupes seem to have great rearward visibility these days. Good luck backing up in an F-Type, a Camaro or a Mustang. The AMG GT is definitely tricky too.
I would say anything shorter than Bigfoot would be difficult to see out of this thing. Which, isn’t that what it’s for? To stay in front of other cars because it’s supposed to be fast or something? Then how are you supposed to keep an eye on the competition?
Then again, you’re in an AMG GT, and an R in this case. You might not care. I wouldn’t.
The headrests in the Audi do more harm than good and it doesn’t look like you would have the option to fold them down or tuck them away somewhere. The rear window is pretty small, too.
BMW X4 M40i
Silly name aside, just look at that visibility! Not only are the C-pillars absolutely bloated to the point of a hazard, the window is so tiny you might as well just rely on cameras if you own this car. That’s like a porthole in a pirate ship or something.
Again with the coupes. If someone is passing you on the right, it would be hard for you to know about it. That slanted window isn’t doing anyone any favors, either. Car looks great, though.
I suspect that owners of the QX80 will have similar visibility issues that Jason did when he drove the Lexus LX 570. Sure, the window is nice and big, but whatever you would have been able to see would get blocked by headrests or passengers. So you could drive it alone or you could just get a different car because the whole point of this car is to drive lots of other people, right?
Lexus GS F
Same problem as in the Infiniti Q60, except this is a sedan. The car looks athletic but sacrifices many of its sight lines for that appearance.
Holy shit, this car. This is worse than the BMW. Why is there even an attempt at a window? Probably because there are laws that say so. Something as big as a bus can be driving behind you and you’d miss it.
Fiat 500 X
This is decent. Decent because despite the upward slant of the rear windows from the outside, it still maintains good visibility. Plus, the rear overhangs are pretty short, so guessing where it ends wouldn’t be terribly difficult.
This isn’t terrible. The window is nice and big and the seats aren’t obtrusive. Reminds me a little bit of my 2002 Mercedes C-Class, actually, although my quarter windows are a little bigger. This Nissan might be one of the better ones on the floor.
What new cars do you find impossible to see out of?