10 Cars Consumer Reports Ranked Worst for Visibility

Side view of 2017 Infiniti QX70

Certain design elements — like a long hood and sloping windows — can create visibility problems in a vehicle. | Micah Wright/The Cheat Sheet

What makes a vehicle unsafe? Pick your poison. Some cars crumble when hit from the side or front. Others present a risk of rolling over when you hit an object on the road. As crash tests get more difficult to ace, regulators have looked for new standards when declaring a car safe. The last major update had to do with quality of headlights.

That shift made perfect sense. With SUVs and trucks at peak popularity and more elderly drivers taking to the road than ever before, the thought of big cars driven by people who can’t see is frightening. So we applaud the IIHS for making quality headlights part of the criteria for Top Safety Pick awards.

Still, it takes more than nice headlights to see where you’re going. Many cars on the road these days have bind spots ranging from minor to severe. Be careful if you or a loved one is thinking about buying one, and consider the advanced safety features offered as options to see around those blind spots. Here are the 10 cars Consumer Reports ranked worst for visibility.

1. Porsche Boxster

Rad shot of orange 2017 Porsche Boxster

2017 Porsche 718 Boxster S | Porsche

Following extensive road testing, Consumer Reports noted that small drivers will struggle most for a clear view out a Porsche Boxster. However, drivers of any height will have trouble seeing when the top is up due to blind spots created by the roof materials. Other hazards include the high trunk position as well as the wind screen and roll hoops. Even if you stand over six feet tall, be wary of what’s behind you and at your sides when driving a Boxster.

2. Buick Encore

Side view of white Buick Encore, 2016 model year

2016 Buick Encore | Buick

Just because you ride high in an SUV does not make it safe. Significant rollover risk, poor headlights, and subpar crash test ratings bring utility vehicles down a few pegs in safety rankings. With the Buick Encore, visibility is an issue to consider. Small back windows and wide pillars make it tricky for drivers looking out the opposite side. Overly thick pillars also make front visibility an issue in an Encore, which is one of the models GM imports from overseas factories.

3. Jeep Wrangler

View of 2016 Wrangler parked at edge of a rocky precipice.

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited | Fiat Chrysler

While the Jeep Wrangler is certainly an iconic car model, it’s not known as a safe one. Marginal crash-test ratings and a high rollover risk make it one of those vehicles that requires extra care on and off the road. Consumer Reports also named it one of the worst cars for visibility. Its high dashboard and extended hood make it hard to see over the front. As you look out the back of a Wrangler, its thick pillars and spare tire make it tough for drivers to get a clear view. The dated mirrors don’t help, either.

4. Nissan Pathfinder

View of blue 2017 Nissan Pathfinder in front on mountainous terrain

2017 Nissan Pathfinder | Nissan

A big SUV and small back windows don’t sound like a good match, but that’s what Nissan delivered with the latest Pathfinder. Head restraints on rear seating doesn’t help matters, and the thick dividers running from the tail to the roof further restricts a driver’s view. If you are dead-set on a Pathfinder, add on the 360-degree view available in Platinum trim if you afford the price hike. Otherwise, get used to craning your neck and backing up slowly.

5. Chevrolet Suburban

Side view of white 2016 Chevrolet Suburban from driver's side.

2016 Chevy Suburban | General Motors

Describing the Chevy Suburban as “a lot of SUV to see out of,” Consumer Reports warned drivers about the difficulty of spotting a child in front of you with the high dash and lengthy hood in the way. You might strain your eyes to see all the way out of Suburban’s back window as well. Third-row seating further impedes the view, and testers were critical of the mirrors in addition to the other visibility complaints. If you need a Suburban for work or towing, add-on safety features to get an extra set of eyes working for you.

6. Nissan 370Z

Rear view of red Nissan 370Z

2017 Nissan 370Z | Nissan

On any car, the combination of thick pillars and small windows makes it tough to see. That goes double for the Nissan 370Z, a small car with little room to move about inside the cabin. That leaves drivers relying mostly on side mirrors to see around these blind spots. (Rear cameras are available as an option.) For those who don’t tower over their peers, seeing out the front will be problematic due to the high dash. 

7. Infiniti QX70

Back three-quarter view of silver 2016 Infiniti QX70

2017 Infiniti QX70 | Micah Wright/The Cheat Sheet

The Infiniti QX70 has a sculpted look from every angle, but it turns out to be more form than function when you need a clear view of the road. As with other cars on this list, the small windows compound the problem presented by wide roof pillars at all six points on the vehicle. Up front, drivers will having trouble seeing over the QX70’s extended hood that sits high off the ground. Looking toward the rear, the big blind spot on the rear passenger side will be tricky.

8. Toyota Tundra

On May 11th 2016 Victor Sheppard was presented with a 2016 Tundra Limited in exchange for his Million-Mile 2007 Tundra during a ceremony at Greg LeBlanc Toyota in Houma, Louisiana.

A 2016 Tundra sits side-by-side with a model from 2008. | Toyota

Seeing vehicles that sit lower than your truck might be the biggest challenge to driving a pickup. However, Toyota Tundra makes drivers’ lives more difficult with wide roof pillars and head restraints that minimize your view through the rear-view mirror. A rear camera comes standard in Tundra, so this feature should reduce some of the blind spots. Available cross-traffic and blind-spot monitors can finish the job.

9. Chevrolet Camaro

View of Chevy Camaro SS on scenic road at dusk

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS | General Motors

While Consumer Reports broke down the visibility issues of some cars in scientific terms, the report on the new Camaro went right for the jugular.

Like seeing where you’re going? Then the Camaro isn’t for you. Outward visibility is so limited that it would offend Ray Charles. GM claims improvements over the last-generation Camaro, but these are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Thick windshield pillars, very short side windows, and enormous rear roof pillars all block your view.

You’ll have trouble seeing all around this car. A high shelf in the back give you a tiny window to see out of, and the long hood makes seeing straight ahead tough, too. Camaro’s low roof and miniscule clearance present separate challenges, and you’re bound to ding your front unless you stay far back from those concrete stops in parking lots. Testers described blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts as “essentials.”

10. Smart fortwo

Two angles of 2017 Daimler smart fortwo in blue

2017 Smart fortwo | Daimler

How does such a tiny car have such big blind spots? Once again, it comes down to the thickness of the rear roof pillars. The head rests of the back seats also block your view when backing up to it into a small spot. Finally, as if merging onto a highway weren’t already terrifying enough in a Smart car, Consumer Reports warns of the “compromised” view over your left shoulder. Unfortunately, a rear camera can’t help you here — Daimler does not even offer one as an option.

Source: Consumer Reports

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