It’s remarkable how brand-new, clean-sheet, redesigned cars keep coming out without extendable sun visors. I know, it feels like such a small and dumb thing to be up in arms about. But that’s also what’s so frustrating. An extendable or sliding sun visor is such a small add-on to a car that can ultimately make driving significantly less stressful. But there are still so many new cars (even from luxury manufacturers!) that don’t ascribe to the extendable sun visor strategy. Is it because we don’t tell them that it’s a desired feature?
Maybe some car companies who don’t install sliding visors on all their cars are listening (you know who you are), so let’s formalize the argument.
To start: The sun exists. We humans do much of our driving when the sun is either coming up (commuting to work in the morning) or on its way back down (going home after work). That puts the sun at a pretty good angle to leer into the car and shine its blinding rays in our faces.
To combat this, we invented sun visors. They tuck neatly up into the headliner when we don’t need them, or fold down and forward when we do. And then, because we’re extra smart, we made those sun visors swivel to the side window for times that the sun is in the top, front corner of said window.
Taking this one step further, we designed visors that not only swivel over there, but have a rod in them that allows the visor to slide out the length of said rod. The good ones are capable of covering the entire driver-side window from front to back. Some sliding visors will only extend to part of the window. Those should still be given a participation trophy, but the effort feels rather wasted when the sun is still blinding you through the portion of the window the visor fails to cover — this happens way too often. Also worthy of at least a participation trophy are the plastic sliders built into the back of some visors that pull out. They work sometimes, but the sun still finds its way around the small slab of plastic and into your eyes more times than not.
The case for making proper and useful extending sun visors standard in every car virtually writes itself. Being blinded by the sun is not fun. Nor is it safe to drive down the road with the sun affecting your vision. If it’s bad enough, I’ll have to use my hand to shield my face, which is one less hand dedicated to the steering wheel. And before you comment, “buy some sunglasses,” let’s just clarify that shades do not solve every problem. The sun can and will sneak in the sides of your sunglasses if it’s directly to the left of you.
For the most part, though, it’s just infuriating to have the sun in your eyes for prolonged periods of time when a solution to the problem has already been invented. Not to mention, longer drives with the sun on your side can result in an arm/shoulder sunburn — I’ve learned that one many times over the hard way.
But what if we entertain a case against extendable sun visors? I asked multiple manufacturers what the logic is in not engineering the slider into the vehicle. I’m still waiting on answers, but I have a few guesses.
For one, an extendable visor is surely more expensive than a fixed one. There are more materials needed to make it function, and it needs to hold up and work over a long period of time. Added complexity, added testing, added work. The average price of new cars continues to go up these days, so adding more cost into them isn’t exactly what manufacturers want to do. That said, I know I’m willing to pay more for a sun visor that does its job well. And c’mon, how much more is the price of a car that doesn’t currently have a sliding visor going to balloon upwards if you include this extra convenience and safety feature? I’d wager that the figure is palatable for folks who are considering a new car purchase.
Another downside is that the visor does physically cover the side window. You do lose vision through this part of the car, but let’s be honest: you weren’t going to be looking there anyway on account of the giant, blinding light hanging out in that spot. This second reason plays a very distant second fiddle to the added cost and complexity explanation, though. It’s understandable why a manufacturer might say no to the slider due to cost, but I can’t stomach to entertain that argument when I know that there’s a simple solution to being blinded.
There is one exception I’ll make to this rule. Sometimes, the design of a car’s interior or exterior shape makes it impossible to make a useful sliding sun visor. Take the Dodge Viper as an example of that. No need for a sliding visor here. But when we’re talking about crossovers or sedans that will be driven every day, the car needs an extendable sun visor. If you have a good reason to not install sliding visors, I’d love to hear it. Otherwise, feel free to join in on my grumbling in the comments. And if you want to see the most intensive sun visor testing out there, The Straight Pipes over on YouTube make sure you know (in dramatic fashion) which cars do and don't have an extending sun visor.