IIHS Testing Shines the Light on Headlights

Ridgeline Action 5 II

No matter what you drive, daytime visibility should good. Nighttime is a different story, however, and ongoing headlight testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is making that apparent. After testing several vehicle segments, IIHS results show a wide disparity between vehicles and sometimes even between trim levels of the same vehicle.

Advances in headlight technology have exploded during the last decade with the advent and proliferation of LED, high-intensity-discharge, halogen and, now, laser-powered headlights. For full-size pickup trucks, an easy fix would be to mount a massive light bar on the front bumper or roof, but many municipalities have laws about uncovered auxiliary lights on vehicles, so check your local regulations.

IIHS recently tested the headlights of 37 small and mid-size SUVs, and only two — the Hyundai Santa Fe and Volvo XC90 — received the agency's top rating of good out of good, acceptable, marginal and poor. We're guessing that means quite a few of these manufacturers will be upgrading their headlights in the next few years.

Issues such as glare and beam penetration are the big differentiators for SUV headlights, but it's no different for the current crop of pickups. When IIHS released its pickup truck headlight ratings in 2016, it found headlight performance was poor in both the full-size and mid-size segments. Only the top trim levels of the Honda Ridgeline received a score of good; the GMC Sierra 1500 received an acceptable score, the Nissan Titan and Ram 1500 received marginal scores, and all the other tested pickups were rated poor.

Although headlights typically are not likely to influence new pickup purchases, they might be worth considering the next time you're in the market. Better night vision equals better safety.

Cars.com images by Angela Conners

 

16putc_midsziepickuptruckchallenge_17honda_ridgeline_so_ac_17_11jpg_28747933185_o II

 

Comments

Headlights have come so far in the last 10 years. Love hi intensity lamps. The better they get, the better.

I know the halogen headlights on the 2014-2017 Tundra are very bad. They shine down the road fine, but have no side to side illumination. Same with the 2015+ halogen F-150 headlights, very poor headlight design with a lot of wasted lumens.

The new GM trucks (2016+ half tons, the 3/4 ton trucks have subpar headlights) have good lights (both HID and LED), but they do have excessive glare for on coming traffic.

If you live in rural America, you know how important it is to have good headlights to project light not only down the road but side to side too. It make is very difficult to see deer when the ditches of the road are not illuminated.

It make is very difficult to see deer when the ditches of the road are not illuminated. Posted by: Jim

@Jim

That's what having a spotlight is for---Duh!

It make is very difficult to see deer when the ditches of the road are not illuminated. Posted by: Jim

@Jim

That's what having a spotlight is for---Duh!

@papajim:

I know you're joking here. Bus seriously, here in Alabama and in Mississippi, spotlighting deer is illeqal. It's a game warden's wet dream around here.

I have totaled out several vehicles on deer, all older Chevys, and really appreciate good headlights. Someday I should get a LED bar if I could avoid looking like a 17 year old in a lowered Honda.

Can we just stop relying on these ratings please?

seriously, here in Alabama and in Mississippi, spotlighting deer is illeqal. It's a game warden's wet dream around here.

@imoore

Not everybody is cut-out to be a game warden.

But your deer populations in Alabama and Miss. are out of control, really. I just got back from a Mothers Day trip (Florida to Missouri) and deliberately drove a few extra miles to avoid taking I-75.

The countryside in Alabama and Mississippi is just beautiful and really nice people. Great deer hunting over near Lake Eufaula, by the way.

seriously, here in Alabama and in Mississippi, spotlighting deer is illeqal. It's a game warden's wet dream around here.

@imoore

Not everybody is cut-out to be a game warden.

But your deer populations in Alabama and Miss. are out of control, really. I just got back from a Mothers Day trip (Florida to Missouri) and deliberately drove a few extra miles to avoid taking I-75.

The countryside in Alabama and Mississippi is just beautiful and really nice people. Great deer hunting over near Lake Eufaula, by the way.

I would agree with this article. I have a new to me F150 and the headlights were terrible.

My 14 F150 had xenon headlights and were absolutely amazing! Never owned it long enough to pay $450 per bulb to replace though haha. Now I have a Colorado and will never drive highway in the dark with the same confidence with these headlights.

Replacement HID capsule are NOT $450.
You can get a pair-and always replace HID 'bulbs' in pairs, for $100. New OEM color temperature, not Chinese counterfeits.

https://hidbulbsrus.com/identify-counterfeits

H11 bulbs are meant for longevity, not performance.
Dual beam headlights have compromised low AND high beams.
LED headlights are too blue-the marketing department repeat the lie "closer to sunlight", as it means anything. It doesn't. You can't see well, and you glare the hell out of everyone else. They should be regulated down in 'color temperature' from ~5500K to 4500K (or lower)

All these new headlight seriously blind oncoming drivers, the dodges with the blue lights are the worst at that

All these new headlight seriously blind oncoming drivers, the dodges with the blue lights are the worst at that

Surprises me that the government hasn't put regulations on headlights yet. I really hope they don't but sometimes I get blinded by people who feel the need to make their vehicle as bright as the sun.



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