SUVs, crossover vehicles and minivans have long been the most popular types of cars for families. They offer plenty of space, but they have an inherent problem: it’s not always easy to back up in a vehicle that big.
Large vehicles often have equally large blind spots when driving in reverse, which is an especially dangerous problem for people with young children. In some cars, it’s all but impossible to see what’s directly behind the rear bumper when backing up.
The solution: put a video camera behind the vehicle to give the driver better visibility.
What started out as a sci-fi dream and high-end luxury for a few well-healed buyers has now become standard equipment on a wide range of vehicles.
Rear-view cameras are so useful that many crossover vehicles and SUVs offer them across their lineup, at no extra charge. Most luxury cars, whether big or small, also offer rear-view cameras as standard equipment or as a nominal upgrade.
While they’re most common in large family vehicles, these backup cameras can also be useful in smaller cars.
Little two-door coupes, for example, usually have a big blind spot in the back. Their curved rooflines, thick back pillars and high door lines make them look sexy, but they also can limit visibility when backing up.
In cars like this — or any car with poor rear visibility, for that matter — it makes sense to spring for the backup camera system if it’s offered as an upgrade. Just one avoided fender-bender could pay for the added cost, which is usually minimal.
Why are rear-view cameras becoming such a cheap, popular option? Because they’re easy for the manufacturers to install.
Most camera systems take advantage of a digital screen on the dash that is sometimes used for the navigation system and sometimes simply for controlling the radio station. Adding a rear-view camera is an easy thing for manufacturers to do when these digital displays are becoming available in virtually every car today, which is one reason the cameras have proliferated so quickly and affordably.