Safety-minded customers often look for the cars with the best visibility when shopping, and with good reason: As the experts make clear, even the most sophisticated high-tech safety measures still can’t replace human judgement. That means the ability to see your surroundings for yourself remains an important part of a safe driving experience. Indeed, a growing number of industry organizations are beginning to sharpen their focus on vehicle visibility, helping bring the topic to the attention of a growing number of consumers. The IIHS, for example, has begun testing vehicle headlight performance during its Top Safety Pick evaluations. The Autobytel team is here to do its part, too, with 10 cars that take a variety of different strategies for enhancing visibility.
10 Cars with Best Visibility
Photo Credit: Subaru
2016 Subaru Legacy
In the most recent Consumer Reports rankings of the cars with the best visibility, the 2016 Subaru Legacy stood out for physical features like “its upright greenhouse, big windows and thin pillars”—all of which make it easier for the driver to see what’s going on outside. Also, while acknowledging the need for drivers to monitor their surroundings, CR did take the Legacy’s safety technologies into account. For instance, a rearview camera is standard on Subaru’s midsize sedan, and available visibility enhancers include a blind spot monitor and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. That front crash-prevention technology additionally earned the highest possible “superior” grade from the IIHS, which recognized the Legacy as a Top Safety Pick+ certification for the 2016 model year.
Photo Credit: Subaru
2016 Subaru Outback
Although the 2016 Subaru Outback looks increasingly like a crossover, it was originally derived from a Subaru Legacy and continues to be called a “Sport Utility Wagon.” It’s just enough car credibility for our purposes, especially given the fact that the Outback also shares the Legacy’s approach to both high-visibility design and high-tech driver-assistance measures. As a result, it joins the Legacy on CR’s list of cars with the best visibility—and ours as well—but with a further advantage. Beyond matching the Legacy with a Superior IIHS score for front crash-prevention tech, the Outback’s 3.6R Limited trim, with its available EyeSight package, scored an Acceptable headlight rating from the IIHS. (And to be clear, the majority of cars tested have yet to reach even that level, as automakers are just now rising to this new challenge.)
Photo Credit: Honda
2016 Honda Accord
The 2016 Honda Accord is the second of three midsize sedans to earn visibility kudos from Consumer Reports, and it brings a brand-exclusive innovation to the table: Honda LaneWatch. Leveraging a small, rear-facing camera in the right-hand outside mirror, this technology sends a video feed of the Accord’s right side to the vehicle’s infotainment screen, for added visibility during lane changes. The Accord also checks the Superior box in the front crash-prevention section of IIHS testing. The IIHS headlight testing had counterintuitive results, however, that customers should note: With its halogen projector low beams and halogen reflector high beams, the Accord sedan received an Acceptable headlight rating; with its supposedly uplevel LED headlights, it didn’t.
Photo Credit: Honda
2016 Honda Fit
Smaller cars with great visibility, like the 2016 Honda Fit, don’t always furnish all the driver assistance measures as their larger counterparts, but they are more affordable. The Fit now starts at $15,990, which does include a standard multi-angle rearview camera with normal, wide and top-down modes. Moreover, Honda’s LaneWatch blind spot technology, discussed with the Accord, is standard above the EX trim that starts at $17,990. The “tall” design of Honda’s subcompact complements its tech offerings with good sightlines in nearly all directions and nifty extra touches: The Fit has small windows ahead of the sideview mirrors, to extend the driver’s visibility forward, while the car’s back seat headrests can be folded away for a better view to the rear—as long as those seats are unoccupied.
Photo Credit: Nissan
2016 Nissan Altima
The 2016 Nissan Altima achieved a Superior grade for its forward collision mitigation system from the IIHS, then bolsters that score with what CR refers to as “easy driver visibility,” “a good view out,” and a helpful rear-quarter window. The Altima also serves up a big-time bonus in functionality that sets it apart from other cars with great visibility. It’s Nissan’s Predictive Forward Collision Warning system. With this technology, the Altima’s sensors can “see” not just one vehicle ahead, but two. Per Nissan, even if “that [second] vehicle may be obscured from view, PFCW’s sensors can detect if it suddenly and unexpectedly slows, giving the driver additional time to react." A rearview camera system, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert are some of the optional visibility features for the Altima.
Photo Credit: Kia
2016 Kia Soul
Some of the same design quirks that make the 2016 Kia Soul so funky—like its upright shape and taller driving position—also help position it among the cars with the best visibility for shoppers on a budget. Remember, despite its premium design and relatively impressive standard content levels, the Soul starts at a wallet-friendly $15,990. True, that doesn’t include a rearview monitor, but one is available, and for 2016, Kia supplies two more driver assistance features that help expand the driver’s “vision”: forward collision warning, to monitor the road ahead of the Soul, and lane departure warning, for blind spot protection. Upper-trim Souls also can be fitted with high intensity discharge, projector beam headlights with auto-leveling functionality.
Photo Credit: General Motors
2016 Chevrolet Camaro
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is here to remind folks that, for the ultimate outward view, convertibles just may be the cars with the best visibility on the planet—when their tops are down, of course. And for Chevy’s latest muscle car, the ability to drop its top comes with four segment-only advantages. First off, the Camaro is the only entry in its class with a fully automatic retractable top with automatic release and latching mechanisms. It’s also the only one that can open or close its roof at up to 30 MPH, the only one with a keyfob button for remote opening, and the sole choice with an automatic hard tonneau cover. That covers the folded top to clean up the car’s appearance in open-air mode.
Photo Credit: Ford
2016 Ford C-MAX
As should be obvious at this stage, certain cars with great visibility tend to have a similar physical shape, with large, tall windows, a relatively high seating position, and thin pillars supporting the roof. The 2016 Ford C-MAX, for instance, fits into that mold, allowing drivers to see well in all directions. That shape also enables plenty of cabin space, with Ford boasting the C-MAX has best-in-class passenger volume and up to 52.6 cubic feet of total storage. There’s 24.5 cubic feet behind the second row seats, too, so that owners can carry both people and packages at the same time. For a technologically based boost to visibility, shoppers can order a rearview camera, parking sensors, and rain-sensing wipers for the C-MAX.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2017 Toyota Camry
The 2017 Toyota Camry is another strong choice among sedans with great visibility, thanks in part to its tall side windows and large front windshield, and in part to its fairly robust technology offerings. Highlights of the latter include a blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, rear cross traffic alert and a front crash prevention system that was rated as Advanced by the IIHS. Unsurprisingly, the IIHS also awarded the 2016 Camry with a Top Safety Pick+ certification; 2017 models have yet to be tested, but are expected to retain that rating. Oh, and the Camry Hybrid naturally has the same great visibility as the “regular” Camry, but with EPA ratings as high as 40 MPG combined.
Photo Credit: Audi
2017 Audi A4
The 2017 Audi A4 stands out from the premium cars with great visibility by providing advantages in design, technology and ratings. A fairly tall greenhouse and thinner roof pillars lead to open sightlines for the driver, who benefits from front crash prevention technology that was ranked as Superior by the IIHS. The IIHS also recognized Audi’s leadership role in LED lighting with an Acceptable rating for its headlights (with the car’s available Driver Assistance package). Again, that grade may not seem all that impressive at first glance, but of the first 31 cars tested by the IIHS for headlight performance, just 11 even did that well.