Saturday, February 13, 2010

Size Matters

I was recently stopped at a traffic light behind a Chevrolet Traverse, one of GM's newest entries in the increasingly-crowded crossover category. The Traverse, which was introduced in 2009, has had generally favorable, but not spectacular, reviews from the automotive press.

Sitting behind this Traverse in my Subaru Outback, I couldn't help but notice the size of the rear window on this vehicle, which is a mid-size crossover. The window was very small compared to the overall size of the vehicle and to top it off, the rear-window wiper was so small, it carved out a clearing I can only compare to the porthole on a battleship. With the recent snowfall in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the resulting road conditions, this porthole-sized opening was the only direct visual access out the rear window, since the rest was covered with road and storm slop. I don't know the exact specification for the wiper, but it looked about half the size of the 15-inch model that sweeps the rear window of my Outback.

"How on earth can that driver see out that tiny opening?" I thought. Yes, I know, there is a pair of side mirrors, but I would think being able to see clearly out the back window of such a larger vehicle might be important. The size of the window might matter if there's a small child behind the vehicle when someone's backing up their Traverse.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one to notice this fact, since the Associated Press noted in a review quoted on U.S. News & World Report's Rankings & Reviews web page, "I advise getting the rearview monitor because it's difficult for a driver to see what's going on at the back of the Traverse. This monitor does not substitute for a driver looking back there, but it provides extra help." (

There is an "ultrasonic rear parking assist" standard on most Traverse trim lines that alerts drivers to "certain stationary objects located behind the vehicle," that complements all the other modern safety features you'll find. But wouldn't a low-tech solution such as a larger rear window and a decent-sized wiper to help keep it clear do the job better?

Disclosure: I am not a professional auto reviewer, nor do I have any association with Chevrolet, GM, Subaru, Associated Press or U.S. News & World Report.


Amanda said...

That's really weird that they'd make the rear window so small. Believe me, it is definitely important to have a large read window on a big car!

Lauren said...

Designing the car with a moderately sized rear window and accompanying wiper would just make too much sense! Plus, with the safety hazard of the small rear window, then can now "upsell" you on the montitor. Sneaky auto manufacturers...

Deb said...

I find it interesting that so far only women have commented on this. I wonder what Freud would make of that?