Why is the Chevrolet Camaro So Hard to See Out Of?

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

There’s a lot to like about the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro.

This car is fast, engaging and gorgeous from just about every angle, but it has one potentially deal-breaking flaw. Just like the previous-generation model, outward visibility is its Achilles’ heel. You can’t see out of it.

Camaros sit close to the ground and their roofs are pushed low, something that decreases the amount of side glass to an almost comical degree. Exacerbating things, their windshields and backlights are tiny as well. From a usability standpoint, these design choices are troublesome, but it does enhance the car’s sporty appearance; let’s be honest, it looks pretty badass.

But with all of the resources and engineering capability at its disposal, why didn’t GM correct this fault, which has been around since the previous-generation car debuted half-a-dozen years ago? The 2016 Camaro is a clean-sheet redesign, which gave designers and engineers ample opportunity to improve the sightlines. To get a straight answer, we asked Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer about this.

Well aware of its predecessor’s shortcomings, he said they considered raising the new car’s roof and lowering its beltline among other tweaks, all in a bid to improve visibility. But at the end of the day, they didn’t do any of this, and the reason why may surprise you.

Oppenheiser explained that his team typically doesn’t do clinics with the Camaro because “we pretty much know our customer.” But curiously, they did it anyway while developing the sixth-generation car.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Review

He said they brought in a group of people to evaluate the previous Camaro alongside rivals like the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and Nissan 370Z. Customers compared these cars side by side and were asked how they’d improve each one.

With the Chevy, Oppenheiser said participants voiced their concerns about the bad visibility. “They got to the Camaro and [we] said ‘What would you tell Chevrolet about the Camaro if you could redesign it, if you helped give input to the next one?’ And they said ‘Well, I can’t see out of it.’ ”

This is valid, if obvious feedback. However, according to Oppenheiser, customers didn’t want to sacrifice any of the Camaro’s signature design for better sightlines. When asked about this tradeoff he said, “They all went, ‘Don’t change it! We love the styling, that’s why we bought it!’” Drivers adore the way this car looks, even if it’s not necessarily easy to live with.

Making things a little better, Oppenheiser noted that customers suggested improving visibility by adding new technology. Features like blind-spot monitoring and an improved backup camera are available in the 2016 Camaro.

Oppenheiser said the new car’s sightlines are improved over the previous-gen model, especially when it’s equipped with those new tech goodies. He also noted that the more time you spend in the new Camaro, the more familiar you get with its exterior dimensions. “If you spent six months in it, you’d learn to drive around it.” A week-long test isn’t necessarily enough time to really learn its exterior dimensions.

So that’s the story of why the Camaro is still difficult to see out of. As with many things, vanity has once again trumped practicality.

Discuss this story on our Camaro Forum

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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Join the conversation
  • STAN24 STAN24 on Feb 23, 2016

    First off, it's one thing to say "you can't see out of it well" or "you can't see out of it as well as a _____," and something very different to say "you can't see out of it," period. People need to stop repeating that nonsense - especially journalists who are supposed to be about facts, not sensational "yellow press" garbage. Second, multiple sources have stated that the sixth generation HAS improved its visibility, including a lower hood and a thinner A pillar. Rearward visibility is worse than before for reversing, but there's a standard backup camera now which very likely takes care of that concern, along with cross traffic and blind spot monitors to handle others (which in the past was effectively mitigated simply by setting the side mirrors correctly, not exactly an absurd imposition to make on drivers). Also, having driven a fifth gen Camaro for six years, it didn't take "six months," or even a week, to get used to its visibility. Even coming from driving nothing but great visibility economy cars for close to a decade before it, it was possible to get around safely pretty much immediately, and comfortably in normal public road driving in less than a full day. Fine, so style (or "vanity," if you prefer) trumped practicality in the new Camaro. That's not exactly earth-shattering news for a new entry in the pony car segment, of course. And it's not a reason to go overboard with wild claims exaggerating the car's limitations.

  • Jon Austin Jon Austin on Feb 24, 2016

    Dittos to STAN24. I have driven my 2011 Camaro for nearly 5 years, and also got accustomed to its dimensions and sightlines very quickly. (And my previous vehicle was a truck!) I'd be curious how the accident statistics for the Gen 5 Camaro compare to those for its primary competition (Mustang and Challenger), and how many of the collisions in those statistics are attributed to poor visibility (non-weather-related).