Lexus incorporates wide vision digital rear view mirrors to the 2021 range of its ES and LS sedans, consisting of cameras on both sides of the vehicle and monitors inside. HD images in real time for the sake of comfort and, above all, safety.
Instead of the traditional external rear view mirrors, two cameras on the sides of the vehicle and housed in much more compact, aerodynamic and retractable mounts. Inside, two 5 ”monitors located at the base of the front pillars and each paired with the corresponding outdoor sensor. Cameras plus screens offer high resolution color image quality. It is the innovative system that Lexus proposes to facilitate the driver’s peripheral vision, both while driving and when stopped.
Aerodynamic and heated
The outer cameras are housed in slim, streamlined housings. Being considerably smaller than conventional mirrors, they reduce wind noise and pose less of an obstacle to the driver’s diagonal forward vision. In addition, both units have built-in heaters to prevent ice or mist from forming, and are strategically placed so that they cannot be covered by drops of water or snowflakes. In any case, the driver can activate the anti-fog function (switch on the dashboard) to always guarantee a clear image.
When the driver activates the turn signals or selects reverse gear, the digital mirrors automatically show an enlarged view of the area next to or behind the vehicle. An icon appears in one corner of the screen to alert you to the change in aspect ratio. Once the turn, lane change or parking maneuver is completed, the system automatically returns to the standard settings. This eliminates blind spots and facilitates safer maneuvers. In this video you can check these functions:
The driver can also switch to expanded view when needed, manually. The system is adjusted by means of controls on the driver’s door panel, as if it were conventional exterior mirrors: it supports customization in terms of the brightness of the monitors and activation / deactivation of both the aforementioned enlarged view and the automatic retraction camera satellites when parking the vehicle.
The location of the monitors significantly reduces head turning when looking at them compared to standard mirrors. Both cameras and monitors have brightness sensors, which automatically reduce glare from the headlights of vehicles behind at night.
Total blind spot control
This digital mirror system works in combination with blind spot control technology: in the presence of a vehicle or cyclist in the immediate side zone, an alert icon appears on the corresponding screen.
During lane change and reversing maneuvers, virtual lines appear on the interior monitors, the mission of which is to serve as a distance reference. On the road, these lines indicate, up to 70 km / h, 5, 10 and 15 m; from 70 km / h, an extra line is added indicating 30 m of distance. In parking maneuvers, the lines point distances of 20 and 50 cm from the rear bumper, and 50 cm on each side of the car.
Both interior displays are located right at the height of the mirrors, so that they are in line with the intuitive vision of the driver. Therefore, you do not have to substantially change the natural movement to check your content.
We were able to test the operation of these Lexus digital rear view mirrors in their brand new ES 300h, a recently introduced premium saloon. Starting with the cameras, the more compact and aerodynamic aspect of the exterior modules that house them is obvious compared to ‘analog’ mirrors. They do not generate any noise or hiss at high speeds. During the test, we asked different passersby about them and, like us, the general opinion is that they are still somewhat bulky.
The internal monitors offer a very high image quality and with great detail, a merit of their own but also of the external sensors (it shows that Panasonic is as a partner). They respond quickly and efficiently to sudden changes in brightness (a tunnel, for example) and, although they ‘suffer’ when the Sun hits the cameras flat, it is not a serious defect.
This system of digital mirrors represents, from a global point of view, an exponential leap in terms of safety since it clearly improves the driver’s visibility when the conditions are not good: bad weather, total darkness, possible glare from the headlights of the rear vehicles… In addition, it optimizes the ability to see and, therefore, to perceive the presence of vehicles, pedestrians, pets, cyclists, etc., both in the side and at the rear of the car. In other words, blind spots disappear.
Likewise, it greatly facilitates parking maneuvers, both due to the capacity for detail and coverage / viewing angle on the monitors and the virtual guide lines that appear on them; In combination with the images displayed on the main dashboard display (front / rear and overhead views), parking the vehicle is extremely easy. As with many standard mirrors, Lexus Smartphones also display an icon when a nearby vehicle or bicyclist is in the adjoining lane.
The digital rear view mirrors, for the moment, are only present in the new Lexus ES 300h and LS 500h, and in the ‘special’ Audio e-tron and Honda e. We are confident that it will be standard equipment even on standard mid-range vehicles; Now, we are talking about several years ahead. As it happened in its day with similar cases (intelligent cruise control, alert for involuntary lane change, etc.) it is, for the moment, an expensive technology to produce. But, after the thorough test that we have carried out, we can only say that their usefulness, safety and comfort are beyond all doubt. The smart mirror technology comes to stay, yes, hopefully with the general quality and qualities of these Lexus.
By the way, three notes: the first two that affect the editorial philosophy of Gadget and a third that not so much. First, that the tested unit, the Lexus ES 300h, came equipped with the Mark Levinson audio system, whose sound experience can be summed up in two words: absolutely sublime (as long as the sound source emits a good quality level). Second, the degree of global technology of this saloon: full on resources and driving aids, as well as connectivity, all of them with optimal performance.
And third, we cannot stop praising the driving comfort offered by the Lexus ES 300h, thanks, among other reasons, to an extremely efficient suspension, a soundproofing typical of a recording studio (which helps to enjoy the aforementioned audio system. ) and multi-faceted bucket seats.