I always back into parking spots. The stubby Fiat 500 Sport spoiled me in that regard because it was so easy to put in any space, but it was the Nissan Versa Note’s Around View monitor that really spoiled me.
I consider myself pretty good at both aiming my mirrors and using them when backing into a parking space. Lord knows I have plenty of practice at it, backing into parking spaces at least three times in any given day. In truth, the Fiat 500 was so short I actually had trouble gaging where the back of the car was while using the mirrors to back. That car didn’t have any camera assistance for backing. It doesn’t need it once you’re used to the car’s size. But a lot of other cars I’ve tested — all of them so far much larger than the 500 — have rear view cameras that really come in handy when you only get a week to get familiar with where all the car’s corners and edges are when parking.
The Nissan Versa Note’s Around View monitor is like taking the rear view camera common in many well-equipped vehicles today and cranking up the usefulness by adding three more auxiliary cameras around the car’s exterior: One up front and one on each side.
The ingenious thing about the way Around View works is that it’s not limited to looking at one camera at a time, but rather, it’s designed to provide a near-complete picture of the area immediately surrounding the car. As I used it to back into my parking space at work, I could clearly make out the empty parking box I was pulling into. Sure, the lines weren’t perfectly aligned between the rear/front cameras and the left/right cameras, with some small distortion or fisheye effect noticeable. Even so, it made the Versa Note not just really easy to park, but also really easy to park exceptionally well, with roughly equal distance between the car’s sides and the lines of the parking space.
The Around View screen splits in the middle, showing a larger view of just the rear view camera when backing. This view can be switched to show a larger view of the passenger side camera, which would have helped me ace any parallel parking by showing me exactly where the curb was. Rural Tennessee isn’t exactly rife with parallel parking — there are a few parallel spaces in my hometown, but they’re so infrequently used that I can usually nose into them much faster than using the proper high-angle back-in maneuver we were taught in driver’s ed. It was a nice feature to have, though, precisely because if I were to need to parallel park in a crowded city somewhere, my lack of proper parallel parking practice might cause a car-crunching conundrum.
I really could have used the Around View monitor back when I tested the Nissan Titan PRO-4X and had to wedge it into a tight parking garage space, if I’m honest. The excellent outward visibility in the Versa Note would have made any parking challenges minimal even if it weren’t equipped with Around View. I was glad to have it, anyway.
Disclosure: Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.