By on January 17, 2011

Steve Edgett writes in:

Sajeev raised an excellent point in today’s piece on the 1974 Ford pickup regarding visibility. Like a few of the regular TTAC readers, I was driving when low belt lines and great visibility were considered cool, as well as functional. As much as I love my four year old BMW 3-series, I find the visibility out the rear to be atrocious. And, compared to a mid-80’s 3-series or a 2002, it is downright dangerous. How much of this bloat and reduced glass area is due to ”safety standards” and how much is fashion?

Because TTAC’s readers include both consumers of automobiles and the workers who design and build our four-wheeled friends, this seems like the perfect topic to settle in one of our friendly community discussions. After all, the most interesting questions about modern automobiles tend to come down to the chicken-and-egg relationship between the manufacturer’s ability to cultivate needs and sell the solution to them, and “true” consumer demand (as witnessed by the fact that neither side of this divide sees itself in as being “in the driver’s seat”). Certainly the Camaro pictured above points to the stylistic benefits of a tiny greenhouse: surely a Zeta-platform vehicle doesn’t need to have so little glass to meet crash test standards. At the same time, it’s likely not a coincidence that dramatic improvements in safety have been accompanied by a tightening of greenhouses.

So, to the designers and engineers in the house we ask: how important is reducing the amount of glass in a vehicle improve safety test performance? To what extent does this issue drive design? And to the consumers we ask: are you really asking for ever-tightening greenhouses in the name of fashion? Can you identify a point at which introducing more glass to a design makes a car look dorky but creating a tighter greenhouse hurts usability (and possibly even active safety)?

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178 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Whatever Happened To Visibility?...”


  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Fashion, and perceived safety. Those are the two main reasons, but aerod

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree about perceived safety. I think the slit windows are all fashion, and I think it sucks, both as fashion (looks stupid to me) and because visibility is so critical for safety, as well as enjoyment. thetruthaboutcars.com/capsule-review-2010-lexus-es350
      If it were safety, the Forester wouldn’t have such an ample greenhouse, and Volvos never would have had ample greenhouses had they been unsafe. I also hate strongly raked windshields. Paul MacCready, the brains behind the GM Impact (as well as the inventor of the pedal-powered plane that won a major prize for flying the English channel, as well as numerous other interesting vehicles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_MacCready/) told me that the Impact’s windshield was unnecessarily (for aerodynamics) raked, and that he would have liked the car to have had a steeper screen, but felt he had to pick his battles carefully).
      However, my understanding is that the rear windows of the Prius, the Matrix, and others with similar profiles are actually an exception to the fashion rule, and that aerodynamics is dictating their shape.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      The Forester has an enormous greenhouse.
       
      But that greenhouse is on top of a pretty deep beltline in its own right.  The seat backs are flush with the sills.  The passengers seat has no height adjustment, and is like sitting in a bathtub.  A bathtub with an airy ceiling, but still a bathtub.  At the side impact test level there’s no glazing to be found.
       
      Not that that’s any excuse for other vehicles which don’t even do that well.   But a 90s Accord it’s not.

    • 0 avatar
      MrDot

      Old Volvos never had to conform to modern side-impact standards.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Older Volvos weren’t subject to modern side impact standards, but they were safe nonetheless. My aunt got T-boned in her 240 sedan in the early ’90s with the other car (some full size American car IIRC) going 40-45 mph and hitting the driver’s side. She was a little banged up, but walked away from that one.

  • avatar
    Matthew Sullivan

    I bought a 2010 Evo X four months ago,  and the lack of visibility is my biggest gripe with the car.  It was actually impacting my ability to drive the car comfortably and safely.

    I resorted to sitting on a cushion and plan to raise the driver’s seat (seat height is not adjustable).

    Two thumbs down on this squished greenhouse nonsense.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I thank whoever finally came to their senses and got rid of the giant greenhouses that made so many cars so ugly over the last few decades. IMHO, the greenhouses have returned to a sane size after being hideously big.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Kia Rondo = too much glass
    Nissan Juke = too little glass

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      This was what made the boringly styled jellybean ’98 Windstar a great family van in our crowded urban setting.  The visibility was amazing, and many times I left my suv in the drive when I knew parallel parking was the order of the day.  Our 3rd gen Odyssey, by comparison, is like driving a cave when in reverse, and it’s got glass (and headrests, pillars, seatbelts etc. in the sight-lines) out the wazoo.

      The comparison on another site of the 1-Series to an old 3 from the 80′s (love those) certainly is a great example of how badly things have gone, not just on visibility, but usable interior volume.  The two cars were similar in size, but the cabin of the 1 looked like it could fit in the back seat of the 80s three.  One was clearly designed for (questionable) looks, the other for true function.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Funny; I like the Rondo.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Well I’m not an engineer or a designer (unless you count my doodles in my high school notebooks, and I tended to draw convertibles mostly.  Which oddly I don’t really desire to own one now.)  But I really prefer larger greenhouses. 

    I could see all four corners of my 1982 A-body GM quite easily, the same for my 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass and for my 1997 Ford Escort wagon.  My 10th generation (2004) F150 Heritage has good visibility too.  My fiance’s 2005 Vibe?  I hate the rear visiblity, I feel like I need a backup camera.  This bugs me to the point where the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Magnum are on my used car short list but I don’t really know if I could live with the poor visiblity.  My fiance was once loaned an Enclave while her Vibe was being worked on and the backup camera on that sucker was a must have. 

    I never saw this as a safety thing?  Is it?  If it is, how did the old Ford Fivehundred meet standards?  That sucker looked like it had an airy greenhouse. 

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Having grown up in and subsequently driven many cars from the 1980′s, I find it slightly disconcerting how bad visibility is in a lot of new cars. At present I think the best visibility I’ve seen in any new car/SUV has to be the Subaru Forester. It’s like driving around in a greenhouse. The worst has to be the bunker vision you get in the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger. I rented a Charger for a few days and it was a horrible experience.
    I’m guessing the problem comes down to beefed up side impact protection. Having taken apart various older cars, it is quite obvious that on my old Fords the door consisted of little more than an inner and outer skin. Todays vehicle have impact beams, airbags and all sorts in them.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think it is fashion pure and simple. Started by Chrysler with the 300. Any allusions to “safety” is purely a coverup. It might make it slightly cheaper to meet a given side-impact goal though. Given that the tiny greenhouse is in style, I am sure the automakers see that as a win-win.

    Luckily, my Saab 9-3 Wagon is only afflicted to the rear, and that is mostly a consequence of it being based on a sedan with a fairly high trunkline. Front and side visibility is fine. I actually had a Camaro of the same color as the pictured one as a rental, it was utterly ridiculous to the point you can barely drive the thing in traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      You’re nibbling at a hint with the “high trunkline” comment. Higher trunks came into fashion when aerodynamic considerations started taking higher priority in the design process. And the higher the ass, the harder it is to provide reasonable visibility past it.
       
      We’re shopping for a car right now, and one of the “first cut” tests is a right shoulder check. If my wife isn’t happy with the visibility offered, that model gets cut from the “to be considered” list.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      “Started by Chrysler with the 300.”
      Nay. It started in the early 1950s with “chopped” Ford coupes. The theme was developed by Ed Roth and the other California Customizers. Somehow, our current cars are being built by people who take their design ideas from slot cars.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      I’d say it started with the Audi TT, which preceded the 300 and had a huge styling influence on the industry (imo).  And there wasn’t much else to it.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      You could go back as far as the Volvo 262 Bertone Coupe, from around 1979 IIRC.

    • 0 avatar

      “You’re nibbling at a hint with the “high trunkline” comment. Higher trunks came into fashion when aerodynamic considerations started taking higher priority in the design process. And the higher the ass, the harder it is to provide reasonable visibility past it.”
       
      That and the fact that everyone wants bigger trunks these days. I think this is a much more central reason for today’s “high ass” sedans than pure aerodynamics.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    This is a great topic and I look forward tor reading some of the responses.
     
    I would assume the the high belt line is due, at least in part, to the need to strengthen the doors, and I assume the large pillars are a function (again in part) of the weight of current vehicles. Even so, I also assume that at least some of this is styling.
     
    Style-wise, while I can understand the attraction of ‘squinty’ greenhouses, I really don’t like the limits they place on visibility. If belt lines really have to be as high as they are, then I would prefer a raised roof line to compensate. Not only would it allow for easier ingress and egress (for people with periodic back issues such as myself), but the increased visibility would be a godsend.
     
    I also wish there was a way of maintaining roof strength without having to have such wide pillars. I even find the A-pillars on our Grand Caravan to create too many blind spots for me (though they don’t seem to bother my wife quite as much).

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      I also wish there was a way of maintaining roof strength without having to have such wide pillars.
       
      There is. It’s called “high strength steel” and is readily available to the engineers designing the cars. Of course, it’s more expensive than plain old mild steel…

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      giant wheels aren’t helping here – the big wheels raise the beltline as well as the high rear for aero.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      Stubby, bloated hoodlines are mandated by jaywalker safety standards.
       
      Huge wheels, fender vents, longitudinal creases, wrap around headlights, etc. are then added to disguise the height of the hood.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Huge wheels, fender vents, longitudinal creases, wrap around headlights, etc. are then added to disguise the height of the hood.

      I would buy this, were it not for concept cars.

      This is telling: concepts are cars as designers wish they looked, free from constraints of cost and regulation.  And concepts all, to a fault, have a bulging hood, pillbox windows and 30″ rims and the bulging hood exists to allow a large grille, which exists to allow for a large logo and aggressive appearance.

      Another telling trait: the more utilitarian the car (subcompacts and minivans, generally), the thinner the pillars, the lower the beltline and the more wedge-shaped the hood.  And yet minivans and econoboxes are subject to the same regulations.  So again this leads us to designer wankery cowering behind the excuse of “regulation”.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      you should look a the 73-77 GM Colonnade body (Chevelle, Cutlass, Regal/Century, LeMans) They were designed to meet a 1974 federal rollover standard that never came about. The way they did was to have a double roof, strong pillars and side impact protection.
       
      The visibility out of the 4 door versions of those cars is spot on, the two doors with the large quarter windows are excellent as well, the ones with opera windows not so much. My 77 Chevelle has skinny A-pillars, B pillars aren’t too obstrusive and the C-pillars are about 6 inches wide.
       
      Now wether or not it’ll hold up now to a modern roof-crush test is another story but they made it safer than the 68-72 models and gave better visibility. (Styling is a point I won’t debate on these cars, either you love them or hate them)

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      <>

      I would say large wheels are a necessity with the increased side sill size to keep the proportions normal.  Look at a Suzuki Areio from about ten years ago.  It looks really top heavy even though it has the same sixteen inch wheels as a lot of other cars of its time.

  • avatar

    I recall an article from around ’04 stating the trend towards bunker-style automobile styling was a direct result of American “insecurities” in the aftermath of 9/11. We’re so nervous and insecure we needed to feel cocooned in our cars, apparently.

    The image is enhanced further by those needlessly high front-ends, thanks to ridiculous pedestrian safety standards.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      I read some stuff about pedestrian safe design.  One goal is to reduce injuries to the legs, which are the first part of the pedestrian to be struck.  Putting impact absorbing materials in the front of the car helps.  Increasing the contact area also helps (hence the blunt front ends).  However, lowering the contact point helps too, which seems to contradict the blunt-nose idea.  The second issue is to reduce head injury when the pedestrian’s head hits the hood.  Increasing space between the hood and the engine creates a crumple zone.  One piece I read said the goal is 10 cm.  That’s not much, really, and does not seem to account for all of the increased height you see.  

      And by the way, if it helps to have open space under the hood, is a Corvair the most pedestrian safe car around?

    • 0 avatar

      I tend to believe if you get hit by a car, that a) you’re gonna get hurt regardless of bumper or hood height, and b) more often than not, it’s going to be your fault for being somewhere cars were and you probably shouldn’t have been.

      Rather than still-more federal regulation, I wish pedestrians would keep this very simple rule in mind: no matter what the law may say, cars are always going to be bigger than you and should be respected as such.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I know a few women who are hanging onto older cars because their potential replacements offer insufficient visibility. If an automaker accidentally promotes a competent leader with the courage to get off the trend towards ever worse looking cars with ever more pinched rear windows bracketed by C or D pillars that wrap inward and rooflines that slope downwards to compromise rear seat headroom while blocking the view astern, they will clean up. It will be an unfair advantage that will necessitate government protection for all the artsy imbecile directed car companies the world over.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Masnufacturers are chasing high NCAP scores , at the expense of safety.Very often the window area is much smaller than the glass area. Putting airbags in the “A” pillars is just ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar

      My problem isn’t the A-pillars so much as the C-pillars, which on some cars have gotten to be enormous to the exclusion of any sort of rear visibility. You can’t see squat out the back of vehicles like the Nissan Murano, Chrysler Crossfire, Dodge Magnum, most newer minivans, most crossovers, etc.
       
      And no, the answer isn’t a backup camera as some have stated around here. Most of those frankly suck; they’re too low, usually pointed at some useless angle, and generally give you no idea of what’s happening to the sides of the rear of your vehicle (which is what you often need the visibility more for anyway). If modern cars are going to take on increasingly tankish proportions, I’d appreciate a periscope far more than a backup camera.

  • avatar
    dwford

    It’s two things:

    #1. Fashion – nobody wants an upright Dodge Dynasty greenhouse anymore

    #2. Roof crush safety standards – pillars are getting thicker to support the car in a rollover

    Combine the 2 and you get poor visibility

    • 0 avatar
      supremebrougham

      Um, I’d love to have a well cared for, loaded Dodge Dynasty in my driveway…

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      LHS FTW!
       
       
      Everything that was good about Dynasty, but with actual class!

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      The Dynasty (and other “extended” K-cars) look awkward not because of their low beltline, but mainly because of their unsightly squared-off C-pillar.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Man, I’m very late to this party, but like Educator Dan, I appreciated the visibility of the Chevy Celebrity. I also liked the early Luminas for the low beltline and large glass area. What I didn’t like was the door-mounted seatbelts and GM “half-way mentality” of rear windows that only rolled (barely) half-way down. Additionally, I liked my 1990 Acclaim and 1993 Spirit visibility as well. My Impala is all right. New cars? I dunno. I’m not in the market yet, but anything I would buy has to have visibility as I have an eye issue and need to be able to see out of the car more than most. Dodge Dynasty? Loved the formal appearance, but that was the most blown-out edition of the K Car architecture and after seeing how thin the doors were, the perception of side-impact protection just unnerved me, but one of my brothers-in-law had one for many years and loved it. I think the Malibu has pretty good visibility for me. I am a structural designer of paperboard packaging and would enjoy spending time with an automotive designer to find out what the underlying rules of structural integrity are and how they work with them. Not knowing leads to speculation on my part of how much is fashion and how much is function.

    • 0 avatar

      Dynasty?  You make it sound like you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
      FWIW, the original Taurus and Sable (and the others that came after) prove that you can have good visibility with stunning aerodynamics and good looks.  I expect the visibility in my 1983 Ford Sierra (when it arrives from the UK) to also prove that point.
      And thanks to much smarter computers for finite element analysis, I simply can’t believe we cannot challenge engineers to to make a car of that size with the proper airbags and chassis protection…and still make it sleek and airy.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Must be a style thing.  I’m an electrical engineer, not a structural one but I would think that ha high beltline would have minimal impact (sorry) on crash performance.  Thick pillars are a given.  Smaller spacing between pillars would also help strengthen the structure.  But why would moving the horizontal member at the top of the door help?  Wouldn’t having that horizontal member in line with the likely path of impact be of more value than having it higher up?  People may feel more secure with a cocoon like interior; I feel rather exposed in my Probe with it’s large greenhouse but I can see around me easily, making for better safety in my opinion. Roof crush would be dictated by the strength of the pillars, not the height of the glass.
     

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      I’m a mechanical engineer (I did OK on electrics), so I can comment here.

      The upper edge of the door isn’t the side impact structural member – the side impact member it’s typically buried farther down into the door at roughly rear bumper height, and it is in line with the most likely path of impact.

      That said, more metal does improve crashworthiness, simply by dint of having more of it. Metal can absorb a *lot* more energy than glass, so if the side goes up higher, there’s just that much more metal to deform and absorb energy before getting to the passengers.

      For the same thickness, a taller column is inherently “weaker” than a shorter column, simply because it deflects (bends) more for the same load (force). So, taller glass / greenhouse makes for a structure that is inherently less strong.

      And aerodynamics comes into play – chopping the roof has the double benefits of reducing the total frontal area, and shortening the path that the air has to travel.

      All that said, we’re talking about safety and aerodynamics on the margins. Small gains here, rather than hugely-significant ones. I think embiggening of the car and cabin are the first causes, followed by embiggened styling features like giant wheels and giant fenders.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I’m a mechanical engineer, too.  I’ll add that less glass makes for less load on the HVAC system, and thus yields better fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      Wagen

      I’ll add that less glass makes for less load on the HVAC system, and thus yields better fuel economy.
      Wouldn’t the reduced HVAC load be offset by the additional weight of a certain surface area of metal plus plastic trim on the inside vs. glass?

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      The point about glass being an increased load on air conditioning is a good one. Unfortunately, to compensate for the closed-in, bunkered feeling that results from gangstered windows, we’ve seen a sudden and massive proliferation of moon roofs to let in some needed light and to help recreate the same feeling of airiness lost with the slit windows. Sure you can close them, but it would be interesting to see how many people just leave them open because of the sense of airiness they create.
       
      No doubt, manufacturers would likely use a model without an open moon roof when stating their fuel consumption ratings, but that’s just another bit of double-speak that people would need to look out for when it comes to these kinds of things.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Wagen,
       
      I think you overestimate the weight of a body skin panel and interior trim while underestimating the weight of glass.  I too am a mechanical engineer and I posit that automotive window glazing (particularly sandwich or noise-insulating glazing) is heavier per square inch than a door skin plus an equal area of interior trim.  The door construction is heaviest around its periphery, which will be there and be roughly equal regardless of belt line height, so the added material is in the center door skin which is typically thin-gauge sheet metal.  Door panels as an entirety are rather featherweight, a few square inches would be nearly negligable.
       
      When I was working on major weight-savings ideas for a FormulaSAE car (had to be <500 lbs wet w/o driver) I found that using a thin-wall aluminum tube was lighter per linear inch than an equal ID radiator hose…so I know it’s possible for “metal” to be lighter than other materials.  Particularly when glass is rather dense, much more so than rubber tubing.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      A square foot of high strength steel and interior plastic weighs less than a square foot of window glass.

      Compared to automotive HSS, automotive glass is the heavier material.

      The only real advantage of glass is that it’s pretty, hence the current fad of adding tiny little vent windows, etc, which would be better served by a bit of black paint over the sheet metal.

  • avatar

    High belt lines are probably due to the need to score high on side impact tests when you’re hit by an SUV.   That’s part of the reason I’ll always feel safe in my 300C SRT8. Its built like a tank.
    Fortunately front and rear end ultrasonic sensors are becoming the norm on cars because without em, parking all these coupe styled cars is a headache.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I need to go digging through the Honda Fact Book and find the top-view diagram showing the visibility circle of the 4th-gen Prelude.

    Bing! Here we are: http://www.honda.co.jp/factbook/auto/PRELUDE/19910919/image/009-004.gif

  • avatar
    Rental Man


    Most of the GM Lambdas in our fleet have rear cameras and backup sensors. So did a new Taurus and Flex and M37. I just backed up the other day with a base version of an SUV and… wow… Design it as nice as you can and make the rear cameras and sensors standard.
    It is hard however to point out stuff to my little girl that even with a booster seat is still very deep inside a Buick Lacrosse with zero visibility. She prefers the Tundra seating position.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It is all about fashion. Just ask the guy walking down the street holding up his pant legs so he doesn’t trip over them. The 5th gen Camaro concept was a hit and fans pressured GM to build that exact one. A friend of mine was one of those fans but had to buy a Mustang instead because she is all of 5’1″ and couldn’t see out of it or where the nose ended.
    -1 for GM.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Here’s a riddle for you.
       
      Back in 1999, my 5’1″ sister was shopping for a new car, and she wanted a sporty coupe. We test drove the Celica GT, but she found it seriously lacking headroom. But I, at 5’7″ was perfectly comfortable with it.
       
      Huh? Solve for X.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      As the driver’s seat in the Celica slides back, it also drops in elevation. Your sister was all the way forward and at the top of the angled/sloped seat tracks hence closer to the roof. Camaro seats can’t rise as much because of the low roof.

    • 0 avatar
      MattPete

      Your sister had big hair?

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Ding! DenverMike wins. Also, the roof noticeably rises aft of the windshield header, so the top of the windshield is lower than the center of the roof.
       
      BTW, she ended up in a 2000 Subaru 2.5RS coupe. And steadfastly refused to replace it even while swearing about fitting a kid seat into the back of it.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Your sister has no legs?

    • 0 avatar

      DenverMike knows a thing or two about this subject, if he has the stones to put a Mustang SVO in his picture.  Foxes have wonderful visibility, but I always wondered if the bi-plane spoiler was more trouble than its worth.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      That bi-plane spoiler is 2″ thick and rides below the field of vision about a 1/5 the way up the hatch glass with the rearview mirror a good foot higher in elevation.

  • avatar
    cc-rider

    One of my biggest pet peeves with new cars!  No one seems to ever talk or write about this subject.  I remember sitting in a Chrysler Crossfire and feeling like the rear view was like looking out a porthole.

    I have a 91 sentra se-r and 88 bmw e30. Both have huge amounts of glass and excellent outward visibility.  The sentra is lowered an inch. From the view out the window, it feels like I am looking at the middle of newer cars doors.

    My wife drives an 04 Corolla which has pretty decent visibility by modern standards, but compared to my other cars is down right terrible.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Yet another reason to keep my Scion xB1. It is a (visibility-wise) clear successor to my Volvo 245.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Drag is easier to reduce with a higher rear, cue Prius and “clones.” Just as important, trunk space benefits greatly.
     
    In the front, a high grille and short windshield, means more of total wind energy will hit the grill, and less the green house, making noise reduction easier. Doubly so because shorter windshields can be raked steeper without new-Civic’ising the design. And triply because other sources of noise have become better suppressed.
     
    I’ sure there has to be “some” benefits to crash protection. Perhaps the increased chance of being hit by a high bumper SUV leads designers to want side intrusion bars higher up. In general, standards designer seems to prefer cars to be safe in a crash, not for crash avoidance. And certainly not for making the other car safe.

  • avatar

    So very glad we’re giving up the “hard plastics” schtick and finding a new hobby horse in the glass.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    The one feature I absolutely detest on modern automobiles are the thick door pillars and the high beltline, if these are mandated for safety reasons they are counterproductive as they
    diminish visibility so much as to create safety concerns.  I had a 2004 Honda Element and the
    one thing I absolutely detested about it was the poor outward visibility.  I now drive a 2008 Odyssey and the visibility is vastly improved.  There surely has to be some way that door pillars can be made thinner without compromising rollover concerns.  I suppose before long backup cameras will be mandated but frankly I would rather have larger glass area for the jimproved visibility it allows.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      if these are mandated for safety reasons they are counterproductive as they diminish visibility so much as to create safety concerns.

      Do we have some data on that?

      http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_02_17.html
       
      Seems like perhaps structural integrity is far more important than visibility for the vast majority of drivers.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Using a high beltline to achieve an attractive car at the expense of function is nothing but design laziness. My Bruno Sacco-designed ’95 Mercedes W124 coupe manages to be both striking and driver-friendly, with a low beltline, no B-pillars, and a low but wide and deep trunk. And it still manages a drag coefficient of 0.28 Cd.

    The only car I’ve driven with better visibility was my old W123.

    • 0 avatar
      StevenJJ

      A classic pillarless from MB. They don’t seem appreciated at the moment but I think they will come around again. As for hatchbacks the Peugeot 205 and Golf mk1 came with the low beltlines of the time and only improved with age. The big giveaway is the amount of rear glass in the hatch. Lots and lots.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      W124 is truly wonderful in this regard. One of the most driver-friendly cars I can think of. Am trying currently to convince myself that I have to get W124 #3, after 300E-24 and 400E. Charming motors.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    It’s a shame. My 1990 Civic LX sedan had terrific visibility – low beltlines, low dashboard, large glass areas and thin pillars all around. My ’94 LeSabre does fairly well in that regard too, though not as good as the Civic. I rode in a Mercedes CLS not long back – luxurious, but I know how tank drivers must feel.

    • 0 avatar
      chrisgreencar

      +1. I also had a 1990 Civic sedan, and I loved the low cowl and large windshield. My 1979 Accord sedan also has amazing visibility, especially when compared to my Acura TSX.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Visibility?  Does the average drive look where they are going enough for this to be an issue?  I highly doubt it.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    speaking as someone who owned a high belt line VW and was broadsided at 70 mph by a moron who lost control of his SUV on the garden state parkway, I’ll take the high belt line. When his bumper DIDN’T come through the passenger side door and DIDN’T shower me with glass and 30 square feet of stupid GM chrome bumper shrapnel, it meant that I could actually see when he rammed me off the road and into the soft shoulder. So then, since my face wasn’t shredded, I could then see my driver side fender dive into the mud and plow into the median road guide rail, which shredded down the side of my high-belt line driver door instead of into the car and skewering me like a Nathan’s hot dog.
    You guys can trash the poor visibility. I’ll take the high belt line and just try a little harder to look over my shoulder, and maybe give up that choice spot in the city because I don’t want to parallel park. I AM a structural engineer and I approve of the high belt line on the newer cars. steel>glass.
     

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Sundowner,
       
      I think many here wildly over estimate their own driving ability.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      I guess I’m right in assuming that higher belt lines are a progressive safety feature. So is there any good reason (other than style) why roof lines couldn’t be raised to increase visibility a little? I’m only about 6′, but my head is close to touching the roof in most vehicles and I hate having to turtle to see the stop lights at many intersections.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      So is there any good reason (other than style) why roof lines couldn’t be raised to increase visibility a little?

      Wouldn’t that increase frontal area and decrease fuel economy?

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Automotive side glass is tempered, and won’t “shred” anything if it breaks.
       
      Just try cutting yourself on the remnants of a broken side window.  You have to try really hard.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      The B-pillar of the Golfs are triple-welded and sit a half-foot away from the driver/passenger torso.

      I’m no structural engineer, nor do I know which particular model you were fortunate to survive in, but wouldn’t the B-pillar strength dictate the amount of penetration and kinetic distruction in a side-door impact more significantly than the door that is affixed to the body? Not saying that more steel/less glass didn’t help in your situation, but if beefier doors were a structural panacea, wouldn’t there be more high-peformance convertables, and less high performance coupes? I ask because I’m genuinely curious.

      Regardless, your scenario is the principle reason I loath SUV drivers. The more steel one is cocooned in, the more ‘perceived’ passive safety folks are ensconsed in, seems to equate to more SUV drivers feel obliged to ‘check-out’ of the driving experience. The predictable outcome being untold masses of folks being on the receiving end of tons of oblivious steel.

    • 0 avatar

      “I’m no structural engineer, nor do I know which particular model you were fortunate to survive in, but wouldn’t the B-pillar strength dictate the amount of penetration and kinetic distruction in a side-door impact more significantly than the door that is affixed to the body? Not saying that more steel/less glass didn’t help in your situation, but if beefier doors were a structural panacea, wouldn’t there be more high-peformance convertables, and less high performance coupes? I ask because I’m genuinely curious.”
       
      This was my exact thought also. Isn’t side-impact structural performance mostly dictated by the strength of the B-pillar, the side-impact beams in the doors, and the strength of the structures the B-pillar ties into (i.e., roof and floorpan)? Then why would a few more inches of non-structural door skin make a darn bit of difference, short of maybe making the window area easier to cover with side airbags?

  • avatar
    findude

    This is my biggest single complaint about new cars. We got used to awesome greenhouse by driving 1980s and 1990s Volvo (both wagons and sedans). We bought a2002  Volvo S60 to replace our1996  Volvo 850 sedan–long story short the visibility was so bad in the S60 we sold it and kept the 850 for another seven years.
     
    It would be good to factor visibility into safety ratings.  How about a diagram like the one linked for the Prelude for every new car and then publish the total degrees of the circle that are view versus blocked?

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I never could get used to the ugly huge greenhouses some cars had. Some would have looked great except for about 3-5″ of extra glass. Why you need to see the bottom of other people’s doors, I don’t know, and if you are that paranoid about rear visibilty, get one of the wireless cameras and have it put in. I’ll take the high beltline and a good looking car.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Tinfoil hat time: Is there a correlation between times of uncertainty about the future and glass area in cars? Just thinking that in the ’50′s visibility increased dramatically. By the late ’60′s cars got bunkerish and didn’t really get better till the ’80′s. Most of the new bunker cars came out post 2001.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    +1 to Genuine Leather.
    My DD is a W123, and I have never had better situational awareness than in that car. We also have a couple of GenII Scion XB’s in the family, which have been trouble free and lots of fun to drive. There’s a lot of griping on this forum about those cars by the Gen1 crowd and as for visibility they are right. The gunslit windows are a minus– and that’s why I prefer my old 123 for my 70 mile commute (each way).
    High beltline for better strength? I doubt it. My son got T-boned in the back door by a 3000Lb+ convertible doing 45 MPH when he was driving his W123. The inside surface of the back door moved in maybe 4″ but the rest of the cage survived intact. Even the passenger side doors opened and closed like nothing happened.
    It’s all about good design and good materials.
     
     
     

  • avatar
    zigpenguin

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_3_Series

    Look at the windows on the E21 and those thin pillars. I saw one of those on the road recently, and I was amazed by just how transparent the upper half was.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    My wife wanted a new Tucson, but instead we just bought a Santa Fe because she couldn’t see out of it in any direction other than forward.

  • avatar
    don1967

    It’s probably not so much looks OR safety that accounts for the lack of glass these days, but rather the look OF safety.   In the post-SUV era people want safety in a small package, and the best way to create that illusion is to replace glass with steel.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    “Bunker” cars are simply a continuum of the SUV.
    The reason so many SUV’s sold, was the need to “cocoon” in one’s car…Cars that feel like the inside of a tank, try to duplicate the feeling, in an ostensibly better mpg package.
    People are afraid of their own shadows so they hide in their cars.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Actually, the goal may be to simulate the womb.  Hence, ample sound insulation, tight wrap-around seats, black decor, heartbeat-like base line on the subwoofers.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      lilpoindexter, baseline.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball_field#Baseline
      Bass line.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3qVl8Gb2J4
       
      My biggest complaint is thick A pillars.  A minor complaint is the stupid center headrest in the middle of the back seat of a narrow sedan as if a 5th passenger can actually fit.  I prefer a medium beltline that avoids both styling extremes.

  • avatar
    hifi

    While I do agree that there is a perceived feeling of openness in cars with more glass, my eyes aren’t in my shoulders. So there’s no practical difference between cars with high belt lines and those with more glass.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I think this is the root cause of the love of huge greenhouses. I don’t know what reason anyone would have to see the bottom of cars next to me. At least the complaints about rear visibility make some kind of sense. A rear view camera would solve that issue.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      @nrd515
      Are you serious?
      People who like to drive have many reasons to seek a large greenhouse:
      1) Better view of traffic and road conditions for safety reasons
      2) Enjoyment of natural scenery on back roads
      3) Getting a good view of the pretty woman walking nearby
      4) More light and spacious feel inside cabin
      5) Easier to park
       
      But if feeling like a cool Slim Shady in your bunker mobile is more important than enjoying the maximum amount of most important human sensory input, than you might consider wearing a full face helmet with a dark tinted visor to avoid the harsh glare of the immediate environment around your car.
       

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Fleet of wheel-LOL! How exactly does allowing me to see the bottoms of cars next to me make it any safer? The only thing that might make any difference whatsoever, in regards to safety, would be making the pillars thinner, and it’s still no big deal. I can see just fine out the “gun slit” windows my my car, and I have no idea what the appeal of a “light” cabin is. Spacious, yes, but I like my interiors black or very dark grey. If I had trouble parking, I would just buy a back up camera set up, and solve that problem.
      I have no ambition to be a “Slim Shady”, whatever that means, and I don’t have a foot fetish, so I don’t give a crap about seeing a woman’s feet.
      As long as the greenhouse isn’t ridiculously big, I’m happy. Your idea of ridiculous and mine are miles apart.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    The more steeply raked the windshield, the more you’re looking at a reflection of the top of the dashboard, no matter what its texture and color; and the less you’re looking at what’s outside the car.  This is an unavoidable result of tipping the windshield back.
     
    Just think about this the next time you sit in a car with a heavily raked windshield, and start to notice how you strain your eyes to see outside, without previously realizing this.  Combined with thick A pillars, what is the outcome in terms of accidents caused by poor visibility?

  • avatar
    bufguy

    As a car enthuiast and an architect I don’t like this high belt line fad at all.
    I remember in the 1980′s when designers were striving to create as low of a beltline as possible.
    The 1983 Prelude and 1996 Accords even used a control arm suspension up front in lieu of struts to lower the fender and a pillar. They looked revolutioary at the time. As for aerodynamics the Accord kept a fairly high trunk.
    Even check out the 1977 GM B bodies. Although the front fender and bottom of the A pillar were high; in order to keep the beltline low, the beltline dropped from the leading edge of the door about 3-4 inches to keep the green house tall.
    Hopefully the fad will swing and we will see bright airy greenhouses again

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    You want to talk about visibility issues??? Try taking a ride in the Chevy HHR! I know, as I have one. Despite what the naysayers say, it’s a great little car, but the visibility is the pits. It’s a good car for those who don’t want to actually be seen while driving around.
     
    A couple of months ago, my grandparents gave me a 1995 Mercury Mystique. It had been a while since I had ridden in that car, and the difference in visibility between that car and the HHR is well, like night and day! In the Mystique, you see everything. However, I have noticed that most of the cars around me seem a lot taller. So it appears that in addition to greenhouses getting smaller, cars have also gotten taller as well.

    • 0 avatar
      MattPete

      Taller, and uglier.
       

      I kinda had hope for the Buick Lacrosse when it came out.  Although a little awkward (like a kid who’s feet have grown faster than his body), there was something there that was very nice.  And classy.  The horror!  I might actually be cross-shopping a Buick for my next purchase [current car is a BMW e46].
       
       
      Then I saw one in person a few days ago.  Ungainly and tall.  I want nothing to do with it.
       
      Why are cars so tall these days?  They make an old 1990s LeSabre look like a low-slung sports car.  Is it because automakers are sharing platforms with CUVs?  Or is it because automakers are trying to meet SUVs halfway (well, maybe not half) — sorta like CUVs are trying to find a happy medium between SUVs and station wagons?
       
      To me, the bad greenhouse first started in the early 1990s.  My G20 had the “mouse running up the A-pillar” automatic seatbelt.  Visibility was reduced compared to my 1984 Mazda 626.  In turn, visibility for my 325 (2003) was reduced compared to my 92 G20.
       
      Those late-80s/early-90s Hondas were a thing of beauty.  My mother had an Accord with the flip-up headlights.  The hood was looooowwww, and the dashboard was in your lap.  Visibility was insanely great.

    • 0 avatar
      geo

      I always assumed the great visibility of the Japanese vehicles of that ere was due to them being designed for the Japanese…

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      MattPete: “Why are cars so tall these days?” Some cars are taller because we baby-boomers are getting old and hate to have to stoop down in order to get in a car and have to struggle to get out. Maybe too, people in general are too fat and lazy! I have a 2004 Impala, a 2002 CR-V and a 2007 Miata, so I get to experience all the extremes!

    • 0 avatar

      “Why are cars so tall these days?  They make an old 1990s LeSabre look like a low-slung sports car.  Is it because automakers are sharing platforms with CUVs?  Or is it because automakers are trying to meet SUVs halfway (well, maybe not half) — sorta like CUVs are trying to find a happy medium between SUVs and station wagons?”
       
      I think you’re right about the “meeting SUVs halfway” point, and as far as I can tell a lot of this business of making tall cars started with the Ford Five Hundred. Supposedly Ford did a study that found that middle-aged women would be more likely to consider a sedan if it had a “high H-point” (essentially higher seat height). Obviously, a high H-point also tends to favor a higher roof so the seat can be jacked up higher.
       
      I also agree with your take on the appearance of the Lacrosse. It’s tall, strangely proportioned, and somehow truckish despite the fact that it’s a sedan. I don’t find it very attractive either.

  • avatar

    An “executive summary” follow-up article will be necessary after a few days of responses. :)

  • avatar
    bufguy

    I just bought a 1981 VW Scirocco….the visibility is incredible…tiny A pillars and even C pillars.
    The beltline is low and windshileld relatively upright….I don’t want to get hit either…Now I know why these cars weighed less than 2000lbs.

  • avatar
    Roland

    I hate the limited visibility in a lot of current models. I like to be able to see when I’m driving, and I’d be happy to sacrifice 20% or so of crash safety in order to keep better “situational awareness.”

    To read some comments, you’d think people are buying vehicles simply so that they can crash them.

    It’s bad enough that many drivers never learned to shoulder-check, and it’s much worse when they cannot shoulder-check even when they do try, because of some ridiculously wide pillar. I have noticed an increase in dangerous lane changes made drivers in vehicles with poor visibility and huge blind spots. Adding gadgets won’t help much in that kind of real-time situation.

    The overly raked windshields also usually mean an A-pillar intefering with part of the forward left view.

    Keep the car out of its own driver’s way, please!

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      To read some comments, you’d think people are buying vehicles simply so that they can crash them.
      When I see what goes on every day on the way to work I’ll put my faith in as much steel as I can get between me and the 16 year old/ 91 year old/drunk/high/txting drivers that are out there.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “When I see what goes on every day on the way to work I’ll put my faith in as much steel as I can get between me and the 16 year old/ 91 year old/drunk/high/txting drivers that are out there.”
       
      Paranoid at all? Maybe it’s different where I live in Seattle but fatality-causing accidents don’t often occur on my commute, which is largely interstate.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Maybe it’s different where I live in Seattle but fatality-causing accidents don’t often occur on my commute, which is largely interstate.

      Um… so those 30k fatalities a year are just a myth?  My co-worker who lost his wife and is now raising a brain injured daughter – that’s just a myth?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “My co-worker who lost his wife and is now raising a brain injured daughter – that’s just a myth?”
       
      No more of a myth than the fact that a couple of my relatives  survived severe accidents in 1980s and 1990s Volvo products, which are supposedly “unsafe” by modern standards, with nothing more than cuts and bruises. Sounds like your co-worker’s family was nothing more than unlucky.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Sounds like your co-worker’s family was nothing more than unlucky.

      And the 30k a year who die and the 10s of thousands more who are critically injured?  Just unlucky?  And how do we know you won’t be one of the unlucky on your way to work tomorrow?

      You feelin’ lucky?

      At least you’ll be able to see that F150 that leaves you a vegetable.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Sam: you, sir– are out-of-line. An apology is necessary.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I don’t think Sam is ‘out-of-line.’ If working with someone who was related to someone who had an accident creates an open wound, that isn’t Sam’s fault. I don’t see jmo claiming deep insensitivity in this situation. Accidents do happen, but worrying about them constantly isn’t how some of us want to spend our lives. As Shakespeare wrote, ‘cowards die a thousand deaths, the valiant taste of death but once.’ Many of the people who populate traffic fatality statistics die under tractor trailers that could crush a Toyota Land Cruiser, or are riding bicycles or walking when hit, are hit by trains, or have spectacular single car accidents. Driving around in a bunker while peering out of gun ports doesn’t help in any of those situations.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Many of the people who populate traffic fatality statistics…

      Define “many”.  Rollovers alone account for almost 1/3 of fatalities in 2008.  The idea that your biggest risk is from a semi or locomotive just isn’t backed up by the facts.  The reality is the accident that is going to kill or maim you is one that can be mitigated by greater vehicle structural integrity.

      http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811402EE.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The best defense is still not being in an accident, which you have a fighting chance at doing when you have an unobstructed view of the world around you.

      Take a look at the stats for 2008. Large trucks were involved in 4,089 fatal accidents, but only 682 occupants of large trucks died that year. Some meaningful percentage of the 14,646 occupants of passenger cars who died in 2008 were indeed crushed by trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @jmo: Even a Volvo-like vehicle is no guarantee of survival in a terrible crash.  Just ask the police officers who have suffered terrible injuries when their parked Crown Victoria cruisers were smashed by drivers going 70 mph.  The Crown Vic gets good safety marks, except for crazy situations like those.

      We as humans are invincible until our time is up.  Until then, some choose vehicles with maximum safety ratings, and others – believing that accidents happen to other people – choose to ride motorcycles.  Most of us fall somewhere in between.  The difference is that you expect to be in an accident, and Sam P doesn’t.

      And I don’t recall Sam P calling accidents a “myth” – he simply said he doesn’t see many on his commute.

      And by the way, show me the car that will protect you from that 70 mph F-150 impact.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      And by the way, show me the car that will protect you from that 70 mph F-150 impact.

      I wasn’t aware that the typical accident that results in death or sever injury involved speeds that high.

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    Mostly due to safety standards, both requirements and IIHS values.
    Rollover and roof crush requirements require shorter pillars.
    Side impact needs metal.
    High strength steel is already being used, literally the highest strength that can be formed.  Any higher strength, and it becomes unstampable.
    Side air curtains work a little better with less glass.
    Glass is a noise transmitter, less glass means less noise.
    Could probably lower the beltlines if the govt would allow the unobtanium to be strip mined.

    • 0 avatar
      mr_min

      +1 Car developer.
      I agree, these are most of “Engineering’ reason for a highbelt line.
      I seem to recall glass also weighes more than steel when compared on a structure such as a door. 

      If it was purely styling we would all be driving pill box styled car as this seems the trend at the moment. 

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      I think I read somewhere that rescue workers already complain that their older cutters cannot cope with modern HS pillars, causing the need for costly upgrades.
      Although I once witnessed a die grinder dying a smokey and whiny death when trying to separate a snout off a late 80s SAAB-900, which saved my buddy’s life (and health, sans a few bruises) a few days prior in a head-on collision with a Lada. The drunk in the Lada was kaput.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I remember getting into a MkV Jetta and was so surprised at the gunslit feeling after my mkIV. And nowadays the mkV is a model of openess. I really don’t like it.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      I have a Mk5 Jetta, and the outward (particularly rearward) visibility is the one thing I don’t like about it. The beltline on that car slopes quite a bit, so visibility out the front side windows and windshield is OK, but backing up … ! ! !
      And the B-pillar is incredibly thick, presumably to strengthen the cage for side-impact protection. Do a shoulder check, and you mostly just see B-pillar.

  • avatar
    Marko

    There seem to be two separate (but converging) trends here:
     
    High beltlines seem to be more for perceived than actual safety. I seem to remember the Ford 500/Freestyle et al doing very well in side-impact crash tests, and they of course had low beltlines. I personally dislike high beltlines…and I’m in the “Generation Y” that these designs (especially the Gen2 Scion Xb) are supposed to appeal to.
     
    The “raked windshield” / “four door coupe” trend seemed to start in the 1990s with designs like the Chrysler LH Cars, Infiniti J30, and 1996-2007 Ford Taurus. (In the Taurus’s case, consumers strongly disliked the “four door coupe” roofline along with the angled and oddly shaped rear window, and with good reason, so they were eliminated in the 2000 refresh, but the windshield remained raked.) The vast majority of designs of that era, however, had low beltlines – it was not until the Mercedes CLS arrived in 2005 that the “four-door coupe” became a real trend. I’ve driven a current-generation Civic once, and I really liked the overall design and driving dynamics, but the windshield angle was disorienting.

    A question for current-generation Civic owners: did your eyes get used to the windshield angle, or did you never notice it in the first place?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I’ve been driving a 2007 Civic for almost 4 years. The windshield angle doesn’t create any safety issues, although parking is another matter with nothing visible beneath the base of either the windshield or back window. Driving in my neighborhood, which has traffic calming inflicted 4 way stops where they shouldn’t be, shadows from overhanging trees, and the sort of pedestrian, skate boarder, and randomly ridden bicycle traffic one might expect a few blocks from the beach, I do have to take care to look around the thick A-pillars before pulling out from a stop sign and having someone emerge from a shadow riding opposite to traffic on a beach cruiser from a cross street. That isn’t cool, but the all around visibility in traffic is head and shoulders better than cars that slavishly follow today’s stupid styling trends.

    • 0 avatar
      Wagen

      I recently had a Civic as a rental and the reflections on the windshield, either due to the angle or the materials used on the dash area, were quite distracting.  The only thing that seemed to help significantly was wearing polarized sunglasses, which isn’t an option at night.
      And I don’t think it’s limited to the Civic.  Perhaps it’s a Hondacura thing because a friend’s ’05 TL dash seems incredibly more reflective in the windshield than my similar vintage E46 (which uses a very matte-finish dash material that seems to help a lot).

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      I have to agree, Taurus 4th generation has atrocious rear visibility through back window and side mirrors are no help either with rounded sides of the car. And I’m 6’4″!

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I think the reference to PERCEIVED safety is key.  The Hummer H2 and H3 were abysmal from a visibility standpoint and I recall being told by a GM designer that this was because people who bought them said that they FELT saver in the car when it was built like a bunker.  I guess in a world of mutually-assured-destruction as the guiding force for car purchases, many people wanted to feel like they were protected on the road even if the end effect was a really terrible driving experience.

    I also drove a Saturn Sky and the Pontiac version… great looking cars on the outside but the door sills were up around my ears.  The GM exec I spoke to at the ride and drive explained that, again, the high beltline feeling made potential buyers feel safer.  The Miata was like riding a motorcycle in comparison. 

    The original Scion Xb was a big seller.  I wonder if the vastly reduced driving visibility is a reason that newer model has flopped so badly… among a host of other reasons, I should add.  My wife and I looked at a new Xb for a local family truckster/commuter and were very uncomfortable driving one while her 75 year-old Aunt loves her Gen 1 Xb.  Older drivers with limited mobility need every little help they can get when seeing around them while they drive.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    I would like a new topic on super-raked back Civic-style windshields.   I hate ‘em.
     
    The are much harder to clean, so they generally are harder to keep clean.  And the angle makes reflections and any smudging much worse for visibility.   This is worse when driving with low-sun or at night.  I think potential Civic buyers should drive around a night here in Phoenix AZ where every other car seems to have its “driving” lights on.
     
    And speaking of Phoenix, those giant windshields really bake you in the Summer here.  You end up with a vast expanse of plastic dashboard (not sure if it hard plastic) heated to about 160 F.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I drive a current Civic, as well as a few other cars. The windshield doesn’t create any of the problems you mention for me, but my other daily drivers have been BMWs with interiors that give off toxic vinyl fumes that fog the windows in the sun much like residue from chain smoking. It isn’t super hot here, but the efficiency of the air conditioning system more than compensates for the big windshield in my black interior equipped Civic. I did have the concerns you mention about solar gain plus worries about being able to keep the 3-feet away interior of the windshield clean before buying the car. The inside of the windshield stays clean, unlike my German cars with their constantly breaking down interior materials, and the car cools down fast. Besides, the cloth and ultrasuede seats’ surfaces stay much cooler than the leather in my other cars(or vinyl in a former car). Also, the defogger has completely changed my idea of what is possible from window clearing technology.

  • avatar
    anchke

    It’s smarmy B.S. to claim that designing cars the driver can’t see out of should rightly be considered an attempt to enhance safety, surely not to kowtow to yet another dumbass, group-think, me-too design fad.  Forget about being T-boned by a Ram pickup at 80 per, the dangerous part of your trip to the suburban supermarket is walking through the parking lot, carrying your bags of groceries, while people who can’t see out of their cars chirpchirpchirp on the cellies while blindly making their way around you. Watch especially for reverse lights, because many of these folks have plumb given up on being able to see behind them or to the sides, so they just back up until they feel or hear something. Oh, wait, this design also enhances trunk space. And aerodynamics. You know, just like like tail fins did.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    The excellent visibility of vehicles like the current Subaru Forester and the Kia Rondo show that visibility and ability to pass modern safety standards aren’t mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers realize this.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Wagen

      Unfortunately, both of those vehicles are “tall” derivatives of sedans (a more obvious version of the same is the Ford Focus C-Max vs. standard Focus), so their added height can go to more glass area.  I think it should be possible to have excellent visibility in a vehicle that’s not overly tall.  See the early ’90s Honda Civic.  Short overall height, lots of glass, great visibility.

  • avatar
    Tommy Boy

    IF the high belt-line / bunker look is influenced by “passive safety” requirements, the result is just lazy styling and engineering.  The same result just has to be achievable while still preserving the “active safety” of actually being able to see the vehicles around you.

    I suspect that its mostly a fashion trend.  A combo of the “gangsta” / “urban” hit of the Chrysler 300 and the “post-apocalypse” bunker hit of the Hummer.

    May it (and oversized chrome bling wheels) soon join the automotive styling graveyard of opera lamps; vinyl roofs / “carriage roofs” / phony convertible vinyl roofs; phony wire wheel covers; phony TV antennas and fake spare tire carriers.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    I’d chalk up the steady decline in visibility to yet another lemming leap.  It’s interesting to see how slavishly automakers conform to whatever is deemed to be the Next Big Thing.  In the late 1950s it was rounded, airy greenhouses.  Those evolved to fastback designs in the late-60s — which fairly quickly switched to squared-off landau rooflines in the 1970s and much of the 80s.  In the last half decade fastbacks have made a comeback even on luxury sedans.  Where once headroom was considered a big deal now no one seems to care.  Same with visibility.

    I suppose one could argue that this trend represents the triumph of aerodynamics.  Perhaps that is the case with more engineering-oriented automakers such as Honda, but with others I suspect that it’s more of an empty fashion statement that will be abandoned as soon as another fad emerges.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      You do know that lemming don’t actually do that, right?  The so-called ‘lemming leap’ is a myth largely constructed by Disney. The classic image of hordes of lemmings leaping off a cliff was staged (Wild Kingdom style), and the lemmings in questions were actually being flung off the cliff to construct the scene.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      Yes, but it is a lovely metaphor for the American automobile industry . . . whose success is significantly built around the creation of compelling illusions.

  • avatar
    mhadi

    The Volvo V70/ XC70 current and previous generation has a dipped rear tailgate window for the specific purpose of providing better visibility (the company literature states this). The tailgate window drops below the beltline.
    No fashion statements here.
    The Dodge Caliber – a small car designed to look brutally aggressive- however has such a horrible rear view reversing is in effect a guessing game.
    There is no rational for the slit windows. They are a fashion statement in the same manner that tinted windows are. I for one will never buy a car with poor outward visibility.
    The German ADAC (a relatively respected German Auto Club that tests cars) has a specific category in their reviews that tests a cars outward visibility. As good visibility is an active safety feature it trumps passive features such as the safety cage and airbags. After all, the goal is accident avoidance….

  • avatar
    turtletop

    Gunslit window treatments can look pretty cool from the outside, to be sure.  The new Camaro and the Chrysler 300 wouldn’t be the same without them.  That said, they aren’t anywhere near as cool on the inside, IMHO.  I am reminded of my old 1968 Riviera, which also looked cool in the same fashion but was a total pain in the butt to see out of, with zero visibility to the rear and to the right rear quarter.  Merging to the right or backing up would have been even more a fright without a passenger side mirror with a parabolic stick-on that I added.
     
    A few times when I’ve driven other people’s cars with poor rear/side visibility, I’ve actually had to unbuckle and get out of the car to take a good look behind me… truly humiliating for a gearhead, but I’ll be damned if I was going to bend up their car because I couldn’t see what was behind me!
     
    Then there’s high beltline side windows.  As a driver, I detest them.  I love to see clearly out of my cars (I am something of a clean window freak).  Looking to my left and seeing interior instead of the world outside is a drag.  And another thing: modern cars make it uncomfortable if not impossible to rest your arm on the top of the door with the window rolled down!  One of my all-time favorite things to do on a nice day.
     
    I’m just not convinced that a low beltline window would necessarily be irredeemably unsafe, or that aerodynamics would be compromised by having more glass and better visibility in the back.  And frankly, the idea of a backup cam as a solution leaves me cold… just one more damn thing to break as far as I’m concerned.
     

    • 0 avatar
      jimmy2x

      “Gunslit window treatments can look pretty cool from the outside, to be sure”
      As I recall, the gunslit moniker was 1st used in conjunction with the ’49 Mercury Eight.  Sat in one recently at a show.  Great looking car, but a bitch to see out of.  Think it was used in “Rebel Without a Cause”.  Only wish I could afford one!

    • 0 avatar
      dougjp

      I hate the look of the Chrysler 300, and don’t feel much better about the Camaro. The Mustang is a much better driver’s approach to style…..to be sure.

  • avatar
    geo


    Americans fell in love with SUVs because of the visibility and commanding view of the road.  They fell in love with imports in the seventies and eighties, with their belly-button level dashboards and wonderful visibility.
    Yet designers now insist that Americans want a “cockpit-style” interior, with the dashboard at chin-level, and the rear windshield acting as a moonroof.  Maybe it’s time to go back to the much-maligned model of design after engineering, because taking designs almost directly from the artistic renderings clearly isn’t taking things in a good direction.  And as a result of this insanity, we can look forward to mandatory backup cameras and other nannies.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      I must confess that I don’t want to have to rely on backup cameras. I haven’t reached the point yet where things like cameras seem like a natural extension of my body (as they may in people more accustomed to seeing the world virtually). I generally like to have as few mediating elements between my bodily senses and the world as possible (within reason of course).

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    The whole idea of the convertible is a testament to the notion that maximum space and lines of sight around a human body are optimal.
     
    Convertibles are not practical for full time use for several reasons but apparently fans of gun slit bunker mobiles would feel like Dracula caught in sunlight in a top down car….aghast at the all-pervading visibility, the cruel solar spectrum and vile openness.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Modern fashion for gun slit windows, modern regs for high bonnet lines…
    That is why I gonna stick with my 05 Outback for a long time, despite its poor electronic throttle calibration and stupid climate control. And will prolly add a W124 to the fleet. Or a Gen I Outback from EU (with a 2-speed transfer box), once they become admissible to Canada in a year.

  • avatar

    Up until today, I never owned a car that was not a Subaru wagon (I have had a few trucks, but if you can’t use their generally ample mirrors, I suggest you go back to a sedan) and I have to say no one wants to drive a clownshoe.

    My last Subaru (Which I sold off to a mechanic who will give her a good home) was a great car. It was incredibly practical in every sense of the word. It got decent mileage, had ample power, surprisingly good handling, incredible visibility, it could carry far more than you would think (The local hardware stores stopped looking at me funny after the 3rd time), it could haul a small trailer with ease (See the above), it was cheap to insure, it ran without a single breakdown for over 200,000 miles, and it was an absolute monster in bad weather. I actually pulled my mom in her Trailblazer out of snow drifts on several occasions.

    Yet, despite this, it wasn’t cool. If practical was cool, we’d all be dressed like construction workers, eating store brand food, drinking middle of the road liquor and sharing our modest apartment with roommates.

    I would say, in fact, that impracticality is cool, as it implies that someone has enough money to not care.

  • avatar
    Ducky

    I remember a few years back that Honda started using something called ACE body structure. Essentially what they are saying is that because of the number of SUVs on North American roads today, traditional safety considerations don’t cut it because SUVs are so high off the ground- even if you design a car to have the best energy dissipating crumple zone characteristics, it means nothing if your car ends up under an SUV and most of that crashbox isn’t utilized. ACE body structure was simply fancy speak for moving crash structures in the cars so that they can better protect occupants from SUV impacts. I can say that I see the point to doing this, when I saw a CRX literally underneath a Yukon from a front-end collision…
    I’m not 100% sure this is the reason for higher beltlines, but it seems plausible that higher beltlines were designed in mind to protect occupants against SUV impacts better. There is more shoulder protection if the side impact beams are moved upward and more metal is added. Similarly, the new style of upright, blocky hoods is the result of both the SUV factor and pedestrian safety requirements (more hood crush space for pedestrians so they don’t just slam into the engine). The thicker pillars around the roof are also probably there to meet rollover requirements as well as for side impact protection.
    Needless to say though, a lot of it does come down to what is currently fashionable in the auto industry, but at least part of it can be justified by safety regulations and how automakers are trying to meet those regulations.

  • avatar
    big_gms

    I have a term for the current razor thin window look…I call it the “hunkered bunker” look, because the car body itself looks like it’s squatting and it’s built like a bunker. I hate it and I place the blame squarely on Chysler for starting this awful trend with the 300/Magnum/Charger. When it comes time for a different car, which (hopefully) won’t be for a long time, I don’t know what I’ll do. I refuse to own a car with such poor visibility. The current Taurus was on my list as a possible future used car purchase, but the windows are just too damned narrow. My next car may have to be another truck.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Have the safety fans over at Consumers Union taken up this topic yet?
    IIRC, they’ve panned a couple of vehicles, but not too hard.

  • avatar
    william442

    The rule with the S 2000 is, put the top down before you back up. Otherwise it is one big blind spot

  • avatar
    Ronman

    I agree with most of the commentators saying that narrow greenhouses are safety hazrads.
    Had a new Camaro for a while and as much as i like the styling from the outside, i hated it from the inside. i made it a habit of reverse parking into places so that i can see a bit of what’s coming on the way back out. and even if i wanted to nose into a parking spot, i would loose any sight of the guide lines once the tip of the car had reached their beginning extremity.  on the crowded highways in Dubai, i felt claustrophobic, tried to endlessly keep moving my side mirrors to keep check of who’s about to blast by over the speed limit, a BLIS is a must in such a car if you drive it everyday and you want the piece of mind…the whole of the Camaro is a blind spot…Sorry Bumbelbee, but you need big glasses… contacts aren’t doing it for you…

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I like all the comment responses regaling of survived car crashes in the 80′s and 90′s. Look at a 94 F-150 and then look at a 2011 F-150. give me the metal. keep the glass.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    My favorite greenhouse design EVER was in the early eighties on the (I think it was 1983) through 1995 Olds Cutlass Supreme….seemed like the greenhouse was 90% glass which fit seemlessly…the thin pillars made the roof seem to float….great looking design and great visibility, too. 

    I remember the very first one I saw outside Orrin B. Hayes Oldsmobile in downtown Kalamazoo…gave me a serious case of the ‘Whoooaaa”s when I saw it and IMHO the design still holds up extremely well.  One of GM’s most beautifully designed and proportioned greenhouses….

    Also, I think one social factor in the design of these cars which has not been discussed is the “you can’t see what I am doing” factor….with the whole negative emphasis on talking/ texting/reading/shaving/putting on makeup distracted driving thing…I know people still want to be able to DO those things, they just want to be able to claim they aren’t…so if you can get a secure bunker where no one can see what you are doing, you have the illusion of being free to do these things without being obvious to law enforcement…as you are in an SUV or Mini-van….

  • avatar

    I really do not understand all the “complaints” about visibility.  I drive in reverse for about 1 minute a day, at very low speeds, and I have no problems seeing what I need to see.  As far as the driver side windows, my eyes are what 10-12 inches from mine, and can move closer if needed, which means I can see the ground about 5 feet from normal driving position, and can adjust to see it about 18 or so inches.   Of course the passenger side distances are greatly increased.  But my point is, for 99.99999% of my driving, I can see EVERYTHING I NEED to see.  I must assume that a lot of you are driving driving backwards while drifting to the right all day.
    Pretty much the same with the A pillars, I notice them in certain situations, but at highway speeds, they are not a factor because the things I am looking at are either larger than the few inches they block, are too far away to matter, or stationary so only very momentarily blocked.
    I think it comes down to style preferences, and most of you seem not to like the look, and are trying to make it seem like it is about safety or visibility.
    Note, all of the distances are estimates as I am typically looking for other cars, or the walls of my garage, neither of which are trying to sneak by my window undetected.
     

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Sure, you can get by with minimal visibility but why settle for less?
      A car with 85 horse power and a three speed will get you where you need to go as well.
       
      Just as you can block the sun with your thumb held in front of your face, a few inches of unnecessary door/pillar structure blocks a lot of downrange visibility.
       
      Don’t you ever drive through scenic territory and want to take in as much of the grandeur as possible?
       
      Small greenhouses do look sleek from outside but it is a bad trade off.
       
      I think you are more concerned with feeling hip and your dislike of better-than-adequate visibility stems from the same minivans are not cool, style over substance mindset.

    • 0 avatar

      @FleetofWheel, I certainly do take scenic drives, but I am not usually interested in looking at the edge of the road, everything else is already visible.  Also, if I am driving, I am NOT sightseeing.
      Also, I do not dislike “better” visibility, my point is I am not losing any needed visibility, and it is not a safety issue that most here are trying to sell.

      “Just as you can block the sun with your thumb held in front of your face, a few inches of unnecessary door/pillar structure blocks a lot of downrange visibility.”

      I think I covered this in my original post.
      Please let me know the last time someone crashed into the Sun because their A pillar obscured its view.  The front seat passenger obstructs my vision more than my A pillars.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Apparently you look straight ahead and 90 degrees to the sides and aren’t aware of angles.
       
      Excess door frames/high cowls don’t just block the edges of your field of view but also things that are approaching your center field tangentially (hence the thumb blocking the sun analogy).
       
      Visually small but important but objects like motorcyclists, road debris and kids are hidden for significant moments because they are at an angle to your line of sight and obscured by your bunker structure.
       
      Your description of driving sounds like someone living in Flat Land instead of the real, three dimensional world where unplanned things vector rapidly at you while your car moves at velocity over an undulating road surface.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually I think you are the one living in some type of dream world.  In my world, I can move my head left and right to see around the little blind spot from my A pillar.  Also in my world, objects do not move toward my car perfectly aligned with my A pillar adjusted for my forward progress.  Not saying it could not happen, just never has to me my A pillar has not been very successful in hiding 8, 10, 12 foot long cars, trucks, or even 4 or 5 foot long motorcycles.
      You seem to be talking about parking lot and neighborhood driving, I spend little time in parking lots and neighborhoods, and when I am there, my speed is greatly reduced from the scenarios that I am talking about, and my head is on a swivel.  Even then, I look ahead and identify objects BEFORE they are in my blind spot.  If there is something there, or threatening to be there, I watch it.  If you are not familiar with SIDPE, you may want to look it up.
       
      BTW, I am a motorcycle owner/rider, and am acutely aware of motorcycles and bikes.  And for the record, I never said I particularly liked this design trend, I just said that it is not a safety issue.
       
      Anyway, I told myself I would not get involved in internet arguments anymore, I feel like I am failing that, so I will not respond anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      gogogodzilla

      I really do not understand all the “complaints” about visibility.  I drive in reverse for about 1 minute a day, at very low speeds, and I have no problems seeing what I need to see.

      And that’s why we have so many poor drivers.  In essence, you’ve just stated that the only reason for a rear window is to look out it when driving in reverse.  Not even realizing that for many actions on the road, you really do need to look out the rear and side windows.

      Such as changing lanes, you need to check the rear window to see if anyone behind you is trying to pass you before changing lanes.  And you need to shoulder-check out the side windows to see if anyone is in your blind spots.  Of couse, you can move your head around for a couple of seconds hoping to get a better view, but then… when you do so, you take your eyes off the road, and in heavy but fast flowing traffic, that’s an accident waiting to happen.

      Also, a rear window is useful to see if there is a cop with flashing lights trying to pull you over.  There are more examples, but this gives the general idea.

      That said, you’re initial quote proclaims quite loudly that you don’t do anything of the sort.  For if you did, you’d see a need for a rear window beyond that of a “I drive in reverse for about 1 minute a day, at very low speeds, and I have no problems seeing what I need to see.”

  • avatar
    spyked

    I don’t personally understand the big deal.  If I ever sat in a car that I couldn’t see out of, I’d simply not drive/purchase the car.  Plenty of cars out there to choose from.  Quite nice ones at that.  Range Rovers and Land Rovers still give you that classic “on top of the world” viewpoint.  The current Saab 9-3, especially in front seats, is ALL glass.  Honda Fit, Subaru Forester, various crossovers, etc.  The cars that might be a bit limited are all very “styled” and are for people that can see just fine. 

    I get nervous even talking about this….soon the government will ban nice looking cars in the name of safety and we’ll all have to drive Hondas or Subarus if we don’t have any money. 

  • avatar
    ktm_525

    This is where the recently reviewed Land Rover LR4 shines. Thin A pillars combined with a tall greenhouse and dipped rear tailgate glass makes for the best visibility in any SUV. My previous generation Volvo V70R was very good as well. Thin A pillars can be done with modern standards, it just costs money.
     
     

  • avatar
    chrisgreencar

    Weren’t we supposed to have more glassy greenhouses by now? The Jetsons showed how it could be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jetsonslogo640x480.jpg

  • avatar
    JMII

    As the owner of several 80′s generation Hondas I really miss the low hood, low dash and well spaced windows those things had, including the CRX. In particular my ’85 Civic 3 door (hatchback) and ’89 Prelude Si almost felt like convertibles since their sight lines were so good. I traded the Prelude in for a new ’96 Eclipse and it felt like a tomb in comparison: tiny windows, oversized bulbous dash, portal sized window (rear hatch) that was blocked further by a useless wing. Currently I drive a B5 (’00) VW Passat which has one of the best CD aero numbers around and it feels perfectly balanced in terms of the glass-to-steel ratio so it can be done.
     
    Vehicles just keep getting taller, trucks & SUVs in particular are way too far off the ground, but so are cars with 18-19″ rims. The Euro pedestrian laws are making this worst as cars have huge bumpers, grills and tall hoods now too. Add the roll over and side impact crash test score games and its no wonder why the greenhouse in new cars is so tiny. My current Dodge Dakota feels like its on stilts and its the 2WD model, the 4WD version is a joke for a compact-ish truck. A quick measurement indicates my truck could be 3″ lower without affecting its off-road abilities (the so called approach angles). The aerodynamic penalties of these too-high vehicles is killing MPG so I assume this trend will have to end soon, however even the Prius seems jacked up to me. I understand the backend has to be high for areo reasons, but there is no reason the front can’t drop down… well other then those pesky Euro pedestrian standards.
     
    My real problem is with the bubble-butt CUV and SUVs that clearly have HUGE blind spots. Just looking at the Nissan Murano gives me the willies. Without a backup camera this thing must be impossible to reverse. People don’t use their mirrors other to watch the kids in the back or put on makeup so why even bother with them. Volvo has started adding side impact sensors to their cars, so pretty soon you’ll just have a mail slot in the front to peep thru, everything else will be sensor or camera based as cars truly become tanks.

  • avatar
    alfred p. sloan

    One of the reasons I keep my ’92 Accord wagon around is the low cowl and beltline. It has a tall greenhouse but sightlines are excellent due to the sheer amount of glass and the thin pillars.

    The Chrysler LX cars are the worst offenders I have driven. The enormous pillars coupled with the chop top really feel claustrophobic and limit outward visabillity.

    I don’t have to survive an accident if i can see it and avoid it in the first place

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Compounding the visibility problems with many current vehicles is the fashion trend for eyeglasses with thick temples.  How do people who use these not have compromised peripheral vision?  And if cellphone use is a driving hazard, then why is it beyond consideration that such glasses should be illegal for driving?

  • avatar

    @saajev: “I simply can’t believe we cannot challenge engineers to to make a car of that size with the proper airbags and chassis protection…and still make it sleek and airy”
    As far as I know, those engineers are either dead or in retirement.
    If customers really would crave for sleek and airy cars with good visibility we would have them. But nobody really cares, same as for weight.
    The ancient Mercedes W124 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_W124) offered both safety and visibility (being light and reliable, as well), but would such a car sell today? Too airy, too sleek, too frugal, I’d presume. Such cars would simply miss today’s taste.
    Today’s cars always remind me of my late aunt Franzi, who, in constant fear of possible dangers ahead, only reluctantly left her house, grew fatter and fatter and consequently died on a simple heart attack, without being involved in any accident.

  • avatar
    SecretAznMan

    I actually found the headrests more outrageous than the visibility in the new Camero .  Your head has to be dead center on the rest or in an accident, your head slides off, twists, and snaps back.

  • avatar
    CreepyMayne

    I have no problem with gangster slit windows, I think they look great. The problem is when the A-pillar is at such an angle that it obstructs your view when turning, which happens to be the case with my Magnum, other than that, I love the car.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Can’t wait till some lawyer will start class action lawsuit against the manufacturer for making a car with poor visibility that caused some serious crash. That it will cause every manufacturer abandon their designs with poor outward visibility and come up with great airy design.

  • avatar

    I am surprised…after 169 comments on visibility nobody mentioned the AMC Pacer?
    C’mon B&B. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AMC_Pacer_1975_French_advertisement.jpg

  • avatar

    I’ve been asking this for a year now, sooner or later we’ll be using periscopes to drive cars.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    When cars needed to look like jet fighters, we got bubble windows and flat-top roofs.
    When cars needed to look luxurious, we got huge C pillars, opera windows and frenched back lights.
    When cars needed to look light, economical and roomy, we got low beltlines and lots of glass.
    When cars needed to look sinister and drivers wanted to appear as criminals, we got dark tinted glass.

    We are now seeing apocalyptic pimpmobiles that hide drivers from view, relying on cameras to view the world surrounding the car via a dashboard monitor that also plays DVDs, surfs the Internet and allows for gaming and on-board entertaining. Drivers are seeking privacy from daily life from casual onlookers, while casually flipping through the blogging comments of complete strangers while driving. We believe in the perfection of computers to the extent where we expect computers within our cars to now drive our cars better than we can and to prevent us from making mistakes and when all else fails, keeping us alive with airbags as the car contacts a satellite to tell someone in Mumbai that you ran a red light and broadsided another pimpmobile which is also contacting another stranger in Bejing who speaks English with a Southern US accent that they got hit by someone running a red light.

    So windows are getting too small to see out of, but then, it appears that we are expecting our cars to drive themselves around anyway, so it doesn’t really matter at this point.

    And you know what this all means right? It means that the next big thing is going to be bubble cars that run off our farts.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      And you know what this all means right? It means that the next big thing is going to be bubble cars that run off our farts.

      Thanks to the proliferation of disgusting chain eateries, there’ll be plenty of that to go around.

  • avatar
    sharewhut

    Very late to this, came across on a Googlie search as I’m helping MIL find a new car, and she is having issues with rear visibility in newer vehicles.
    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned, (although functioning of side curtains was briefly addressed) is that higher belt lines/smaller side windows can better prevent occupant ejection, especially in a rollover. Even belted, with an open window you can fit out of there’s a significant risk of at least partial ejection and getting pinned under part of vehicle.

  • avatar
    Pugpal

    Unfettered sight-lines and other ergonomic considerations are two of the critical factors in the decision to continue driving Peugeot 505s exclusively since 1982. Visibility is one of many factors for a suitable replacement vehicle and so far, none of the current crop of new cars has met the test.


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