I typically drive by using my mirrors when backing up -- and I happen to be pretty good at it in most circumstances.
But when you have inches to spare while parallel parking or backing out of a tight space, I have to admit, I've completely fallen in love with backup cameras.
In addition to the convenience factor, there's also a huge safety element. The NHTSA estimates that there are about 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries caused by back-over crashes in a single year. Additionally, 31 percent of those back-over fatalities involve children younger than 5 years old. That's why the NHTSA passed a rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles less than 10,000 pounds by May 2018.
That day can't come too soon. And many automakers are starting to comply early.
So, this week, I wanted to show off some the cool backup camera views available on current vehicles.
2016 Hyundai Tucson
The Hyundai Tucson was completely redesigned for 2016, and everything in this compact SUV gets an upgrade from the exterior styling to the interior finishes. Always ahead of the curve, Hyundai makes the rearview camera standard starting at the base SE trim. While this rearview camera is pretty basic, what I like about it are the guidelines that appear on the monitor, which give you a sense of how close the objects are behind you. The blue lines show what a straight rear trajectory would look like, and the yellow-and-red lines curve as you turn your steering wheel so that you can see what your trajectory looks like as the vehicle moves. This is incredibly helpful as you back out of tight spaces that might have a wall or other obstruction immediately behind the vehicle. Base price for the Tucson is $23,595.
2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR
Land Rover is well known for its "go anywhere" vehicles. They have incredible off-road capabilities and the ride through the urban jungle is nice and luxurious. Plus, with the amazing turning radius, parallel parking this big rig is actually pretty easy -particularly with the standard rear backup camera. As the top-of-the-line trim for the Range Rover Sport, the SVR test vehicle included a surround camera system with the forward camera view. I loved being able to select the view on the monitor whether I was backing into a tight space or trying to edge around a potted plant or curb. While this feature is standard on the SVR, the surround view camera comes as a part of the Vision and Convenience Package ($1,400) on the base Range Rover Sport. Base price for the Range Rover Sport is $65,945; the SVR model starts at $112,345.
2016 Volvo XC90
The Volvo XC90 is all-new for the 2015 model year, and while the bumped out taillights still make this large SUV recognizable as a Volvo, the exterior lines get smoothed out a bit and the interior goes high tech. The iPad-sized info screen is gorgeous, and I was particularly fond of the new "Sensus" infotainment interface. This system is both intuitive and easy to use, plus I found I didn't have to jab my fingers at the screen to make it work. The XC90 comes standard with a park assist camera, but I absolutely fell in love with the up-level 360-degree camera that is included in the Vision Package ($1,800). This takes the around-view monitors to a whole new level, giving excellent visibility surrounding the vehicle. Base price for the XC90 is $50,795, and if you add in the vision package, you'll top out at $52,595.