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Many cars sacrifice visibility for styling trends

2013 Toyota Venza

2013 Toyota Venza Credit: Handout

Q. Do any crossovers have better visibility than the Toyota Venza? I thought I had settled on buying a Toyota Venza but have read several bad reviews about visibility. Is that just a problem with all crossovers, or is it more of a problem with the Venza?

A. The Venza has plenty of company in regards to poor visibility to the rear and over the right shoulder among crossover SUVs and a large number of cars. Recent styling trends have resulted in a growing number of vehicles with narrow rear side windows and rear windows, plus thick roof pillars, all of which hinder the driver's view. Tougher federal regulations to prevent whiplash have resulted in taller headrests that add to the clutter. On top of all that, virtually every crossover has rear privacy glass, which at night is like wearing sunglasses in the dark.

The Subaru Forester's upright design, tall windows and relatively narrow pillars give the driver better visibility than most crossovers. Among others that are better than average is the Nissan Murano, thanks to its large rear window. The Ford Escape, Honda Pilot and Jeep Liberty have upright styling that gives those vehicles taller rear side and rear windows than most.

Before you cross the Venza off your list, you should drive it first and assess the visibility for yourself. is among those that have criticized the Venza for its rear visibility, but we also believe it's fair to point out that blind spot mirrors are standard on all models, and a backup camera is standard on the XLE and Limited and optional on the LE. Rear cameras are available on many other crossovers and provide significant help when the vehicle is in Reverse, so you should try some before you decide.

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