Quick quiz: What’s missing from this common phrase? “Objects are closer than they appear.” If you guessed ‘in mirror,’ you get the free stuffed bear. And, you probably have a pretty good handle on where automotive technology is heading this century.
I first noticed the missing word while driving the 2015 Honda Fit EX-L. When you take a right turn or change lanes to the right, a live video image appears in the 7-inch display, taken from a small camera mounted under the right-side mirror. Honda says the feature, known as LaneWatch, provides four times as much information as the side mirror alone.
LaneWatch activates when you pull the lever for the turn signal. There’s also a button on the lever to activate the live video at any time.
There are helpful lane markings in the display—yellow for cars that are behind you in the next lane and red for cars that are near your bumper. The message “objects are closer than they appear” shows up each time as a healthy reminder about the optical illusion. (I’ll spare you the details, but it’s safe to say your perspective and the camera angle play a big role in this.) Note to people who get motion sickness easily: watching the LaneWatch display could make you woozy.
I drove the Fit for an entire week, concentrating my drive time on four-lane highways where lane collisions are most common. In a few cases, the display showed a rather massive RV or semi-truck barreling down on my right-hand lane. I’ll go on record saying that LaneWatch probably saved me from making a lane mistake about three or four times in one week.
There’s a satisfying “click” that occurs when you activate the right turn signal—it’s hard to explain. It’s not audible. It’s as though the engineering wizards wanted to alert you both visually and by touch when you make a right turn. In the display settings, you can decide if you want a delay of two seconds before the live image appears.
Of course, you should also check the actual mirror, but LaneWatch, a feature that’s also in the Honda Accord, is a major aid.
LaneWatch is almost perfect—in only a few cases, the display was a little hard to read due to direct sunlight.
Someday, all vehicles will probably have cameras that show side views, rear views—maybe even aerial views. I doubt the side mirror will go away, though.
The Honda EX-L starts at $19,800 and includes LaneWatch as a standard feature. Lower trim levels like the Fit LX that costs $15,525 do not include the feature.
This story, "Side minder: Erasing blind spots with the 2015 Honda Fit's LaneWatch " was originally published by TechHive.