IIHS Finds Most Small SUV models Have Deficient Headlights
Institute’s New Test Evaluates Light Output, Pattern, Aiming of High and Low Beams
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) performed its new headlight test on several small SUVs and found almost all of them to be lacking.
In a test that evaluates headlight reach (both on high and low beams) and low-beam glare, not one of the 21 small SUVs tested achieved the Institute’s highest rating of Good. Four SUVs earned an Acceptable rating: the 2017 Ford Escape, 2016 Honda CR-V, 2016 Hyundai Tucson, and 2016 Mazda CX-3. The other 21 SUVs were rated as either Marginal or Poor.
Notably, the IIHS doesn’t prioritize one headlight technology over others, and it says that a high price tag is no guarantee of good headlight performance. Indeed, luxury compacts like the BMW X1, Audi Q3, and Buick Encore were rated worse than some budget brands. However, the IIHS does advocate for automatic high beam control, a system available on some top-trim SUVs that automatically dips the brights when approaching either oncoming traffic or slower-moving traffic ahead.
One interesting conclusion is different headlight configurations on the same vehicle have different ratings. On the 2016 Hyundai Tucson, only the Limited earns an Acceptable rating, thanks to its standard LED headlights (lower trim levels of the Tucson have halogens that earn a Poor rating). However, when equipped with optional adaptive headlights, excessive glare on the low beams drops the Limited’s rating to Poor.
The IIHS will be incorporating the headlight test into its Top Safety Pick+ barrage starting in 2017, and only models with Good or Acceptable headlight ratings will be eligible for the organization’s highest honor. That means current winners might need to update their lighting systems to qualify next year. The IIHS will test pickup headlights next, so stay tuned.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety