Headlights of the 2019 Pickup Truck of the Year Competition – #PTOTY19

How Do Our Trucks’ Modern LEDs Fare in the Dead of Night?

Oct 22, 2018
Anecdotally speaking, we sometimes find headlights of lots of different vehicles to be sorely lacking, with poor illumination on dark highway roads. Conversely, sometimes those illuminators are so bright that even the low beams cause discomfort for other drivers. For that reason, we felt like we wanted to evaluate each of our 2019 Pickup Truck of the Year contenders for their headlights. But since this is Truck Trend, not some stuffy old advice magazine, we’re also going to talk about their styling—LED technology enables some pretty modern, techno-chic nighttime looks.
Photo 2/9   |   2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Lt Trail Boss Headlights

2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Trail Boss

Chevrolet abandoned decades of heritage styling cues when it redesigned the 2019 Silverado 1500, which now gets rounded wheelwells, crisp styling, and decidedly aerodynamic design cues. But that’s not to say the 1500 is unattractive in the slightest—its modern styling is growing on us in a big way. That translates well to the pointy new headlights, seen here on the Trail Boss. LED high and low beams appear in the upper headlamp elements, with LED turn signals in the unit below. Both elements are connected by a thin wisp of C-shaped LED light piping. The look is sleek and attractive, and the two-element design recalls the C/K Series from 1988 to 1998.
Photo 3/9   |   2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Ltz Headlights

2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ

Shared with the Trail Boss, the headlamp elements of the LTZ are likewise attractive. They illuminate the road well even using only the low beams, scattering a low, wide array of light ahead. The LED foglights (also found on the Trail Boss) are likewise effective, providing an added measure of nearby illumination when needed, such as when parking or driving in obscured conditions. Trimmed in chrome (the Trail Boss gets black accents), the LTZ’s headlights are classic and attractive.
Photo 4/9   |   2018 Ford F 150 Lariat Diesel Headlights

2018 Ford F-150 Lariat FX4

The Ford F-150 Lariat FX4 we tested was a high-feature model that came equipped with leather, adaptive cruise control, and a panoramic sunroof. It’s no surprise, then, that Ford also kitted it out with LED headlights. Their design, which was updated for the 2018 model year, also gives them an attractive look, with double-C LED daytime running lights and two-element headlamp diodes for technologically sophisticated styling. They looked dazzling—figuratively and, unfortunately, literally. These lights cast a bit too much glare into our eyes when the FX4 was driving behind us. But their forward illumination is impressive.
Photo 5/9   |   2019 Ford F 150 Limited Headlights

2019 Ford F-150 Limited

When the 2015 Ford F-150 hit the scene, we were initially disappointed with its dim headlights. That problem has been solved, at least in Limited trim. Wearing similar LEDs to the FX4, the Limited also gets its kid brother’s impressive visibility and disappointing glare issues. But on the whole, we love the styling of the Limited’s front end, with those sleek headlamps bookending a chrome-heavy front grille with an open center element—we like that styling better than the body-colored two-bar grille found on our particular FX4 tester.
Photo 6/9   |   2019 Gmc Sierra 1500 At4 Headlights

2019 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4

Like the Chevrolet Silverado, the GMC Sierra was comprehensively redesigned for 2019, but unlike its more common sibling, the Sierra retained many of its predecessors’ styling features. That includes its modern headlamp design, fired by LEDs with a very attractive daytime running light signature. Our AT4 featured GMC’s top-spec headlamp option, with ultrabright LEDs firing in every nacelle. Unfortunately, the headlights (and the AT4’s standard lift kit) blinded other drivers on the road. However, on dark, twisty roads, the AT4 was fantastic, with both low and high beams throwing a wide band of illumination.
Photo 7/9   |   2019 Gmc Sierra 1500 Denali Headlights

2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali

Like the AT4, our Sierra Denali’s top-spec headlamps were a bit too shiny when found in the rearview mirror of another truck. In fact, other drivers frequently flashed their high beams at us, mistakenly thinking we were driving around with the brights on. That’s a bit unfortunate, but the nice side effect is that the headlamps looked absolutely modern and attractive, and they cast plenty of light for nighttime driving.
Photo 8/9   |   2019 Ram 1500 Rebel Headlights

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

Ram redesigned the 1500 lineup for 2019, and it kept the popular off-road–lite Rebel model in the stable. For the first time ever, the Ram 1500 is available with LED lighting, and our Rebel tester comes standard with such a feature—higher Ram trim levels even come with automatic high beams and curve-bending headlamps. Forward illumination is great, and the Rebel’s unique headlights also come with some interesting styling details—diffuse light piping, “RAM LED” badges, and a squinty mien that we love. Many people think the Ram 1500’s new styling is a bit conservative, but look closely and you’ll find lots to appreciate.
Photo 9/9   |   2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Headlights

2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn

The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn comes with those aforementioned automatic high beams and adaptive illumination. We noticed both features every time we chucked the big Ram into a corner or encountered oncoming traffic. The curve-illuminating Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) turns the inboard headlamp projector up to 7 degrees and the outboard projector up to 15 degrees, providing a bit better light on twisty roads. The automatic high beams also allowed us to set-and-forget the headlights, meaning we could use the high beams with abandon without endangering the eyesight of other drivers. Each time we encountered traffic ahead, the Ram would automatically switch to low beams. These peepers were probably our favorite in the test.
Come back later this week for more details from the 2019 Pickup Truck of the Year!

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