Wide-Angle Side Mirrors: Useful or Annoying?

By Jennifer Geiger  on September 12, 2012

Each year, more and more gadgets are added to the equipment lists of new cars. But it's not just gadgets. Simple features, such as extendable sun visors and wide-angle side mirrors, are also popping up. I’m all about the former, but the verdict is still out on the latter.

I started noticing the wide-angle side mirror trend last fall when I drove the redesigned-for-2012 Honda CR-V. These mirrors seem to be everywhere, including many Ford vehicles and my last test car, the Ford Fiesta.

On the Fiesta (above), the side mirrors house a separate, smaller mirror in an upper corner. It's a slightly domed square that provides a wide-angle view, like a fisheye lens. They’re similar to ones you can buy at the local car-care store that stick onto regular mirrors.

The CR-V's wide-angle mirror (below) is limited to the driver's side. It's more convex — an entire quarter of the mirror is angled for a wider view. And it's actually part of the mirror itself; it doesn’t look stuck-on.

In both cars, I found the standard added mirrors distracting and disorienting. 

Every time you glance at the side mirrors, it takes an extra beat to figure out the view. Also, the wide-angle mirrors use up valuable space on an already small surface, especially with the Fiesta's tiny mirrors.

Sure, these mirrors help eliminate blind spots, but wouldn't setting your mirrors correctly do the same thing? The Cars.com editorial staff recently took a defensive driving class at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., and learned some tips:

  • Most people adjust the side mirrors so they can see the side of the car, not realizing this creates big blind spots.
  • Instead, adjust the mirrors so that the side of the car is just out of view, decreasing the size of your blind spots.
  • For the driver's side, lean toward the window, and the side of the car should come into view. Lean a little toward the center of the car to adjust the passenger-side mirror accordingly.
  • If the side mirrors are set correctly, a car that passes you should move from the rearview mirror to the side mirrors, without disappearing in a blind spot.

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Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan.  Email Jennifer