CARS.COM — Cadillac offers a new rear camera mirror on both its 2016 Cadillac CT6 sedan and 2017 Cadillac XT5 SUV that provides the option of a full-time rear-camera view projected on the rearview mirror. It’s convenient for when visibility is compromised by a backseat full of passengers but does it work well in every situation? We’ve tested it on sunny afternoons and it performed well, but we’re less impressed by its performance at night and in the rain.
Overall, the system was OK in the CT6, but the more we threw at it, the more shortcomings popped up. One issue is that just as backup cameras can be hard to see through when water is on the lens, the rear camera mirror struggles when it’s raining. While Cadillac covers the camera’s lens with a hydrophobic coating that sheds water, at some point, if it’s wet enough and humid enough, any lens will collect enough water to be hard to see through. During my foggy, rainy test drive, I could see things more clearly through the conventional mirror than the camera. Interestingly, on the 2017 Cadillacs XT5 there’s a washing system to help clear the lens. We’ll have to try that out at later date to see if that helps in those conditions.
During the drier portion of my night test, the system’s performance was good. The camera doesn’t really get “blinded” by other car’s headlights, and I was able to pick up a surprising amount of detail in the monitor.
Something that took getting used to is the angle of the view: The camera is mounted right above the license plate, which displays a lower view than what’s projected in a traditional rearview mirror. So when you look at the camera mirror, you see the headlights and grille of the vehicle behind you. The different angle is most noticeable in stop-and-go traffic.
Other editors took the car out when the sun was low in the sky and noticed glare bouncing off of the monitor, making it hard to see the display. (Think of using a tablet in bright sunshine, only the tablet’s surface is a mirror, so the glare is more pronounced.) Also, in any conditions, the monitor view has a slight distortion that takes some getting used to. It’s a wider view than you get from a mirror — I found I almost didn’t need to use my side mirrors — but the edges of the view are distorted. Because of this, I found the rear camera mirror wasn’t as good for parking maneuvers, especially at night. I really think you’d want to use the conventional mirror for that and the conventional rearview camera (that displays on the center screen).
Overall, I like the rear camera mirror, but I also think it’ll take me a while before I’m as comfortable with the monitor setup as I am with a mirror. And, in conditions such as rain and fog, the conventional mirror will still likely be the way to go.