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by Tim Beissmann

The RACV has slammed the poor rear visibility of many of Australia’s most popular cars.

The Mazda3, Holden Commodore and Cruze, Toyota Corolla and RAV4, Hyundai i30 and the Ford Falcon are among a number of top-selling vehicles that achieved zero stars out of five in the Victorian auto club’s 2011 Reversing Visibility Index.

The RACV study, which analysed 243 new vehicles, found that fitting a reversing camera improved the vehicles’ rating significantly, with variants of the Commodore Sportwagon fitted with a reversing camera awarded the maximum rating, while Falcons with reversing cameras scored 4.5 out of five.

The RACV is pushing manufacturers to include reversing cameras as standard in all new vehicles, not just high-end models as is currently the industry norm.

The annual RACV Reversing Visibility Index aims to help motorists compare the safety design features of vehicles. The scores are based on measurements of the visible area and distance across the rear of a vehicle, and take into account whether a camera or sensors have been fitted.

In 2011, 14 per cent of vehicles scored the maximum five-star rating, an increase of eight per cent compared with 2010.

SUVs remain the worst offenders, with more than 40 per cent earning one star or less. Of the 56 SUVs tested, 13 scored five stars, including camera-equipped variants of the Ford Territory, Holden Captiva 7, Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Toyota Kluger and Prado.

The Commodore Sportwagon was the only large car to earn a five-star rating. The Falcon G6 sedan and Toyota Aurion (both fitted with reversing cameras) scored 4.5 out of five, while the Holden Calais sedan (also fitted with a camera) managed just two stars.

The Hyundai Accent, Kia Soul and Lexus CT 200h were the only small cars tested with reversing cameras, and as such were the only vehicles to achieve the maximum rating.

Variants of the Hyundai i40, Kia Optima and Subaru Liberty fitted with camera achieved five-stars in the medium segment, but all three scored either zero or one star without reversing cameras.

The Honda Legend, Lexus IS, GS and LS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and E-Class (sedan and wagon only), and the Volvo S60 and V60 all earned top marks in the luxury car segment, while the Audi A5 failed to score without a camera.

In one of the quirks of the study, the Subaru Liberty Exiga was the only vehicle in the people mover category to score five stars when fitted with a camera, but also the only vehicle to score zero stars when not equipped a camera.




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