As you may have noticed, there’s been a trend in modern automotive design where beltlines have been getting higher and greenhouses have been getting lower, making windows wider and longer but shorter. This can give cars and SUVs a more solid, even somewhat menacing look, perhaps inspired by old custom car “lead sled” designs, and while I know this is a generally popular look, there is one largely overlooked victim of this design trend: the rear window wiper. The proportions of rear windows on many modern SUVs is such that the only wipers that will actually fit in the limited vertical space are tiny — even absurdly tiny — ones. Compared to the bulk of the rest of the vehicle, they look even more absurd, and, even worse, they don’t function well, being only able to wipe bagel-sized arcs on the rear glass. It’s silly, so let’s do a bit of healthy pointing and mocking. And I’ll also make a suggestion on how automakers can end this scourge.
The new Chevy Blazer is one of the most obvious examples of this goofball trend. Just look at that crazy baby wiper sitting there in the middle of the tailgate. Is it even big enough to be left alone on the back of the car like that? It looks to be about the size of the wipers on my Beetle, only here it’s on a car about quadruple the size and bulk. It’s like a knight in full armor brandishing one of those cocktail toothpicks shaped like a sword. It just feels silly.
Then there’s the actual utility, which is about as pathetic as the looks are. Here, check it out:
That’s not a hell of a lot of window to clear with that dinky little wiper, this time on a recent Jeep Grand Cherokee L. If someone is sitting in the middle of the back seat, they’d obscure all your cleared area. Near-vertical rear windows on SUVs get dirty! A wiper is supposed to be useful! And the Jeeps could be if it could clear an area bigger than the circumference of a personal pan pizza.
[Editor’s Note: At first I called this a Cherokee, and then David, of all people, told me it was a Wagoneer! We were both wrong! Crap. – JT]
Just to compare, look at some other SUVs from a few years back, that didn’t have this issue:
Those wipers both don’t look like they’ve just stepped out of a cold shower, and they actually clean a lot of window area. The Mercedes-Benz up top pre-dates the low greenhouse trend, so it has more vertical room to exist, while the BMW below it takes a clever approach, where the glass continues up at an angle behind the rear spoiler, giving the look of the lower greenhouse while simultaneously providing enough vertical area for a longer, more useful wiper.
(Also, I like how the reflection of that airplane in the window is right there by the wiper)!
I’m not just here to complain; I have a solution! That’s what I do, remember, turning on the headlights of reason instead of cursing the darkness. This can be solved in a way that keeps all the styling intact while making the wipers make more visual sense for their small size, as well as providing more usable window-clearing ability. By simply doing this:
Multiple wipers! When paired up, the tiny wipers don’t look so ridiculous, and they now clear a much more usable window area! Just look:
Everyone wins! And before you start kvetching to me about extra cost or whatever, let me remind you that somehow Toyota pulled this off decades ago:
The Camry Wagon wasn’t some hyper-expensive luxury car, and it had two rear wipers, because Toyota knew that was the best solution for the task. [Editor’s Note: It’s not clear to me exactly why this Toyota even needed two rear wipers in the first place! -DT]. Chevy can add another wiper to the Blazer and keep it out of Bentley price territory, I’m pretty sure.
Stupidly tiny rear SUV wipers are a blight on our once-proud nation, but it won’t take much to fix this. Just add another wiper and make us proud to look at the back of our SUVs once again. Little wipers, like all of us, just need a buddy to be at their best.
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