Lexus’ Wide-view Front and Side Monitor helps drivers almost see around corners.
Modern conveniences can bring mundane dangers. To exit my bank’s ATM, I have to drive down an alley and cross the sidewalk that sits beside the busy road that takes me home. I’m flanked by buildings on either side and parked cars on the road, so my usual procedure in this limited-vision situation is to carefully ease my car over the sidewalk—while holding my breath and crossing my fingers for luck—and then merge, slowly, into whatever traffic may be coming my way. The last time I performed this maneuver, I cut off a gentleman in a sports car. Fortunately, the only thing I damaged was his opinion of my driving skills.
Most drivers face visual handicaps at some juncture in their daily commutes. Remember the last time you inched your car into traffic at a visually obstructed intersection, head and neck craning over the steering wheel for a better view of the road to avoid colliding with some unidentified object bearing down on you out of nowhere?
Thankfully, a recent Lexus technological breakthrough helps you see what’s coming: the new Wide-view Front and Side Monitor, which may someday be as standard as seatbelts, mirrors, and sound systems. Right now, though, you’ll find this optional feature in the redesigned Lexus LX 570.
How it helps you see the unseen: When the vehicle approaches an intersection where side visibility is reduced, a front-grille camera—when activated—captures a broad view of the forward-peripheral surroundings, which displays on the navigation screen. Because the camera sits farther forward than the driver, this area of vision can help the driver better “see” around lateral obstructions. Not only that, a second camera under the passenger-side mirror exposes another hard-to-see area: the ground area on the right side of the car.
When turned on, the system activates when the vehicle speed falls below 7.5 miles per hour—in other words, during a cautious approach to a visually obstructed intersection. You can also set the display to show only the front camera’s view, or show a split-screen of both cameras’ fields of vision.
For me, this enhanced vision seems extrasensory. Rather than easing the nose of the new LX 570 into oncoming traffic to try to see what’s coming, the Wide-view Front and Side Monitor helps ensure that the coast is clear.
Finally, an active safety system I can bank on.
 The Wide-view Front and Side Monitor does not provide a comprehensive view of the front and side areas of the vehicle. You should also look around outside your vehicle, and use your mirrors to confirm clearance. Cold weather will limit effectiveness and view may become cloudy.