Pickup Truck Headlights Could Leave You in the Dark

16 Honda Ridgeline Headlights II

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released the findings from its first test of pickup truck headlights today and the results leave manufacturers with lots of room for improvement. IIHS — an independent, nonprofit safety agency supported by auto insurers — will use headlight ratings as criteria for qualifying for model-year 2017 Top Safety Pick Plus awards, the group's top rating. Pickups are the third category of vehicles IIHS has tested; the first were mid-size cars followed by compact SUVs.

IIHS tested all the mid-size and half-ton pickups, 11 in all, measuring how well or poorly low- and high-beam headlights illuminate the road ahead as the pickup travels straight and in a curve. The test also measures glare from oncoming low-beam headlights.

As you might imagine, the testing is complex given that many truckmakers offer different headlight types depending on trim level. Several models received different ratings depending on the type of headlight offered.

IIHS evaluated 11 model-year 2016 and 2017 pickups equipped with 23 different headlight combinations and awarded ratings of good, acceptable, marginal and poor. The vast majority of the pickups received a rating of poor. Only the 2017 Honda Ridgeline with its high-tech LED projector headlights (only offered on its top trim levels, RTL-E and Black Edition) scored good. The 2016-17 GMC Sierra 1500 was the only model to receive an acceptable rating. To receive IIHS' Top Safety Pick Plus, a vehicle must receive a headlight rating of good or acceptable.

To read the full IIHS report and view a video of the testing, click here.

Of the 23 different headlight combinations, 17 received a rating of poor. Here are the results of IIHS' pickup truck headlight testing:

 

Mid-Size Pickups

2016 Chevrolet Colorado with halogen low beams and high beams:             poor

2016 GMC Canyon with halogen low beams and high beams:                       poor

2017 Honda Ridgeline with LED projector low beams, halogen high beams: good

2017 Honda Ridgeline with halogen low beams and high beams:                 poor

2016 Nissan Frontier with halogen low beams and high beams:                   poor

2016-17 Toyota Tacoma with halogen low beams and high beams:              poor

 

Half-Ton Pickups

2016-17 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with xenon HID low beams and high beams:     poor

2016-17 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with LED low beams and high beams:     poor

2016-17 Ford F-150 with halogen low beams and high beams:     poor

2016-17 Ford F-150 with LED low beams and high beams:     poor

2016-17 GMC Sierra 1500 with LED low beams and high beams:     acceptable/marginal*

2016-17 GMC Sierra 1500 with xenon HID low beams and high beams:     poor

2017 Nissan Titan with halogen low beams and high beams:     marginal

2017 Nissan Titan with LED low beams and halogen high beams:     marginal

2016 Ram 1500 with halogen low beams and high beams:     marginal/poor**

2016-17 Toyota Tundra with halogen low beams and high beams:     poor

*Acceptable rating with high-beam assist technology; marginal without.

**Marginal rating with halogen reflector headlights; poor rating with halogen projector headlights.

 

Cars.com image by Angela Conners; IIHS image

 

IIHS accord-headlights II

 

Comments

Just get a light bar with 1 million candle power

This test is so flawed. With equal lighting, cars will always out-illuminate the road better because the headlights are closer to the ground. You can take two flash light and hold one closer to the ground and one higher and the lower one will illuminate the ground better. This is just another ploy to jack up our insurance rate. They just keep nickle and dime'ing us.

This test is so flawed. With equal lighting, cars will always out-illuminate the road better because the headlights are closer to the ground. You can take two flash light and hold one closer to the ground and one higher and the lower one will illuminate the ground better. This is just another ploy to jack up our insurance rate. They just keep nickle and dime'ing us.

non-profit means government funded,

so if the new trucks are all poor (except one) wonder how the older trucks with incandescent bulbs would be rated in today's world?

I have avoided possums and other critters pretty easily the last several hundred thousand miles on my current truck.

@Dave

agree completely. You made a great analysis.

Good point on the old trucks. I could have sworn they weren't actually headlights back then, but really just two candles with some aluminum foil as a reflector. Truck headlights are fine.

I'm in more danger when idiots buy HID retrofit kits and install them in vehicle without installing the necessary projectors. I'm constantly being blinded by those blue headlights.

I'm in more danger when idiots buy HID retrofit kits and install them in vehicle without installing the necessary projectors. I'm constantly being blinded by those blue headlights.

Indeed.

all these new headlights are too damn bright, every night im blinded by so many cars and trucks.

I have 07 tundra most driver always think that I turn on high beam & one time I have been stoped by the cop.i'm still looking for low watt head lights?

"I have 07 tundra most driver always think that I turn on high beam & one time I have been stoped by the cop.i'm still looking for low watt head lights?"

Sam, get them aimed or like me, I am mine, it is real easy, Utube how to aim Tundra headlights

A Ford getting a another poor rating, sounds about right.

GM getting another poor rating? Sounds about right!

Not sure what they tested? My 2016 Titan XD will light up a field when you want to. This test is beyond flawed.

The headlights with the worst visibility are on the Chevrolet Colorado. The halogen reflector low beams on the pickup's base trim illuminate to only 123 feet on the right side of the straightaway. In contrast, the Ridgeline LED low beams illuminate to 358 feet.

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/most-pickup-trucks-have-poor-headlights-iihs-tests-show

-----

smh.

PS "IIHS is incorporating headlights into the criteria for its highest award, Top Safety Pick+. To qualify for the 2017 award, vehicles will need good or acceptable headlights."

This could be why the Ford spy pics have new lights.

Ford's got this. New lights on the way...

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2016/04/spied-2018-ford-f-150-turbo-diesel.html

Sadly, my 2011 Tundra's stock headlights were much better at lighting up the road than my 2016 Tundra Platinum. I ended up doing a projector retrofit in my Tundra so I could see properly. I don't think I should have to modify headlights on a $52,000 truck.

Up close the Tundra headlights look bright, but the single bulb setup is a huge downgrade from the dual bulb setup the 07-13 Tundra's had.

And I agree, nothing is worse than people that throw HID bulbs into housings WITHOUT the proper projectors. They glare and blind oncoming traffic. And they add HID's simply because the manufacture use shitty output headlights.

what a bunch of crap, I have a 14 f150 with hid's. best lights ever. by a wide margin

Well as I read through here I think you guys on average are very defensive for no particular reason. Headlights are more about optics than candle power. That is why clear back in '93 my Landcruiser could illuminate the planet without harming oncoming traffic. Excellent optics. Now one beef I have is when mankind figures out how to do something right they need to do it right. Lots of vehicles for a long time just have crap headlights. Our Dodge caravan of same vintage as the cruiser fell far short of two candles on the bumper. Took it in twice to two different dealerships and they were adjusted to specs and they just sucked. Tried fancy bulbs, etc. Same result.
Now my 2011 F150 has fair dims, but the brights don't light of things at all. I think they get all caught up in cost and pretty design. That's my two cents.

I've had many vehicles big and small. All I know is I can see better out of my f150 at night than I have ever been able to see out of any other vehicle.

The problems with the F-150 lights are more appearant on the return trip from the grocery store.

A Honda getting a Good rating? Sounds about right.

my led package silverado is so bright people have pulled over beeping on the side of a dark highway multiple times. I get flashed often. With the led fogs on its like daytime in front of the truck. The interior lighting is all led that isn't as good as I would have liked. I'm surprised by the results shown. If the test is flawed than my truck would be the example. One of the most impressive things on the chevy to me is the led package look at night. Its menacing And very bright. Tail light look cool too.

I had a level kit in this truck. I took it out after a few months of torturing people on rural curvy highways. Maybe the projection is wrong like mentioned above? I'm not versed in optics. All I know is the last thing I'm worried about on this model truck is seeing at night. The f150's I drove with led were not impressive in rain. I was also not impressed with the look when lit in the dark.

as long as chevy and gmc have been around they have always had issues with headlights, I still today see them driving around 1 headlight, no wonder the reliablity ratings are so low, heck tahoe was the worst in the last report

I use my fog lights all the time and this helps a lot.


as long as chevy and gmc have been around they have always had issues with headlights, I still today see them driving around 1 headlight, no wonder the reliablity ratings are so low, heck tahoe was the worst in the last report

Posted by: Nitro | Oct 26, 2016 6:54:16 AM

Yeah when you have a GM truck that just keeps on running you are bound to burn out a day time running light, Does Ford even come with that feature? If they do they probably don't burn out since their broke down over 50% of the time not running so the light can't burn out. ;)

Nice try johnny, more excuses for a known problem

this has been a focus since the last few rounds of headlight testing have shown the basically all the automakers are terrible about providing good lighting.

At speeds of 80 mph you need to be able to see 300+ feet down the road in order to react in time. I have complained about poor lighting in many vehicles I have owned so it isn't an issues just with one manufacturer or a certain type (ie not all HID are actually better). I do hope more automakers look into better illumination and then make it standard equipment rather than some $10k upgrade.

The laser lights from BMW/Audi/MB are going to be coming to the US starting next year and while the US has only approved certain parts (we don't get all the great parts due to outdated rules) but the first results are a staggering difference in the ability to see and also to NOT blind other motorists.

I agree that trucks having higher-from-ground headlights are an inherent flaw. The HD trucks are worse due to the increased height. But then Ford took it to another strange level with the 2017 Super Duty redesign. For trucks with the standard halogen headlights (those without the white LED bordering - another crime against eyesight), all 4 headlights come on for *both* low and high beams. While perfectly legal to have 4 low-beam headlights, no other vehicle offers it, and I'm sure those who own them are getting flashed regularly by other drives who think 4 lights means high beams.

The other problem are the federal light regs themselves. They were written for incandescent bulbs and are thus rated in wattage only, and there are no regs of light color. As everyone knows, LEDs in particular use far less wattage to produce the same amount of lumens (correct measurement of light output) - thus a 55 watt LED would be street-legal, even though it would have 4 times the lumens of a halogen. And while original sealed beam incandescent bulbs were usually "soft white" (2700K color temperature), halogens were whiter (3000K), and newer lights are as high as 5000K (cool white/daylight). Once the light regs are rewritten to use lumens and color temperature instead of watts, we may finally get lights that aren't so wildly different from vehicle to vehicle.

After reviewing the results above, we can safely say one thing about FORD, they are consistent.

I wonder how much of this was based on running unloaded trucks. Would be interested in seeing them re-tested with rated payload on board.

That said, I haven't noticed any shortcomings on my past or present trucks. They are usually sufficient enough that frequently forget to click on my high beams at night even on back roads. I usually replace the bulbs with those Silverstar ones when the OEM burns out, but I haven't really noticed a meaningful improvement from doing that.

I call his an incomplete test! I own 2016 Colorado Z-71, that comes with projector headlights, and I fine them very good! both the high and low beams! Especially after I installed Better Putco bulbs! all four for just over $70, made a huge difference, after I lowered the low beams and raised the high beams there is nothing I cannot see in the darkest nights, plus since I lowered the low beams I do not have oncoming vehicle flashing their high beams thinking I have mine on!

LED headlights are the solution to this problem. The color (temp) of the light can be varied based on driving conditions ie. Fog, snow, clear dark night, etc.

I have a truck that they rated as poor. I think that the lights are great. Makes me wonder what they were looking for.

I,m old low beams used to be 2 lights. When u hit high beams all 4 lights lite up. U still had wide angle short distance lighting of low beams plus focused straight ahead lighting. Not the crap we have to settle for now. I,m probably going to violate some law someplace I ordered some new crap plastic headlights not old glass that did not haze over & I,m going to wire it to run 4 lights on high beam so I can see what I may hit before I hit it

I just asked about hid. Led & projector lights. I have been in the heavy truck industry for 34 years led was all the rage initially but when driving in powder snow they don,t generate enough heat to melt snow off so u have no clear tail lights except what's glowing thru the snow. I want a bright set of headlights. Nowadays all are plastic & they have a short life span I live in snow country & have to travel in blizzard conditions sometimes. Having to stop &McLean off light s is not acceptable so I,m going to take matters into my own hands & set this vehicle up old school 4 headlights on high beam



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