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Wide-Angle Side Mirrors: Useful or Annoying?

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

On the Fiesta (above), the side view 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. 

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Sure, these mirrors help eliminate blind spots, but wouldn’t setting your vehicle’s mirrors correctly do the same thing?

The 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, towards the rearview, to adjust the passenger-side mirror accordingly.
  • If the side view mirrors are set correctly, a car that passes you should move from the rear view mirror to the side mirrors, without disappearing in a blind spot.

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Photo of Jennifer Geiger
News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

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