Sun Visors That Come Up Short

The dog days of summer are in full swing in the high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains (read: close to the sun with little ozone filtration). My kids are back to school and afterschool activities, so I'm often driving north on the highway with the earlier-setting sun scorching me relentlessly through the driver-side window.

This makes me more aware than ever about sun visors in test cars that I've been driving lately. Some are incredibly effective, like in the Ford Flex, and some simply fall flat, like in the Mini Cooper S coupe and the Lexus CT 200h (above).

What makes an effective sun visor, and why should you care? Of course there's the practical issue of combined comfort and visibility. Take the CT 200h. Its small sun visor neither slides out on its hinge nor has a pull-out extender. It covers only about a third of the driver-side window, and if the sun happens to be in the other two-thirds, you as the driver are left squinting your left eye to try to block out enough glare so you can still see the road ahead with your right eye. Even while wearing sunglasses, the glare can be enough to make you feel totally uncomfortable at best or, at worst, affect your driving safety. The Cooper S coupe that I drove recently has a sun visor that's even worse (below). It barely functions and seemed to mock me in its puniness.

If this problem isn't enough to persuade you to pay attention to the sun visor before you buy your next car, your vanity just might push you over the edge. The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study and an accompanying photo of a 69-year-old truck driver who spent the better part of the past 28 years with the left side of his face exposed to the sun through the driver-side window of his truck. Ultraviolet rays from the sun penetrated through vehicle window glass, causing severe damage to the left side of his face.

While the study recommends "the use of sun protection and topical retinoids and periodic monitoring for skin cancer" for this patient and others, blocking additional sun couldn't possibly hurt.

The sun visor in the Flex (above) is the best one I've ever tested. For starters, it's huge, both in length and width. In addition to its colossal UV-ray-blocking size, it also slides out along its hinge to adjust to block the sun exactly where you need it.

While you continue to ponder all of your different vehicle options and try desperately to find the perfect mix of features (and hopefully sun visor coverage), I'm going to run out and pick up some higher SPF. I'm just not convinced anymore that my daily application of 45 will cut it.

Heard of Driver's Arm? What About Driver's Face?
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My LeSabre has two visors. Two in the normal place, one on top of the other, but one you could swing out to the side window and the other would just flip down for the windshield. I thought this was perfect. Can we have these back? There was always sun coverage with this two visor system.


I would have to put the Camaro near top of this list. Useless.


My Eagle Vision has two visors on each side also, as well as extenders that cover the entire side window. I have never seen better in any other vehicle.

RT howell

MY05 4runner has 2 sun visors, like a safe auto should. Just like the one mentioned on the buick model, in the prior comment.
If it does not have 2, will not buy it.

Tom Eastburn

You can add the Subaru Forester (at least the 2005 model) to the "what happened to the visor group". Does everything but block the sunlight when used on the side windows.


I always buy my cars based on the visors. Their importance is only second to the thickness of the floor mats.

Great post. I run a fairly successful window tinting shop in Texas, and one of the many reasons that people inquire with us about their car window tinting needs is because of poor sun visors. Sun visors are important in places with a great deal of sunshine, so a lot of people try to reduce glare by tinting the upper portion of their windshield.

Mitch houghton

I found visormates on amazon

You can find sun visors on Ebay, Amazon and overstock. I own a small tinting business and find them to be very useful

I bought a Prius and found Visormates sun visor extenders to use on my drive to work each morning to block side window sun.
Simple and effective


I use "the sunpatch" pretty well

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