Visibility is underrated. A nasty blind spot is the sort of thing that becomes problematic by the fourth or fifth lane-change on the drive home … from the dealership where you just bought your car. Properly positioned side mirrors help, of course, but for the best chance of detecting that Jetta camping out at your 5 o’clock, nothing beats narrow roof pillars, large mirrors and tall windows. Blind spot warning systems are great, but they cost thousands of dollars and are still a rare option.
What about common cars — specifically compact crossovers, whose trendy rooflines and undersized windows can do a pretty good job obscuring the next lane’s traffic? At the Chicago auto show, we checked out 10 popular models to rate what works and what doesn’t. Our report card, with photographic evidence, follows.
2009 Nissan Rogue: D
The Rogue (above) doesn’t have so much a blind spot as it does a blind district. The D-pillars could hide city skylines — perhaps even entire landforms. They’re locked in some kind of close combat with the C-pillars, and the rear-quarter windows have become casualties of war. The blocky second-row head restraints don’t help, and neither do the tapered second-row windows, smallish mirrors and short rear window. There’s also a ceiling-anchored center seat belt for the second row; when installed, it dangles in your rearview mirror. At least it’s slung to the driver’s side and away from the 5 o’clock view.