SUVs Receive Poor Headlight RatingsJuly 3, 2017
With today’s technology, cars and trucks have more safety features than ever before. From sleek new designs to rollover prevention technology and accident avoidance systems, car manufacturers have made great strides when it comes to advances that improve the safety of today’s vehicles. Yet, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), headlight performance in mid-size sport-utility vehicles is lagging behind. In fact, the IIHS reported that only two out of 37 SUV models in the auto industry provide headlight packages with a “good” performance rating. When headlights give off an excessive glare or have incorrectly aimed beams, it can endanger other motorists and pedestrians in the vicinity.
After testing hundreds of models sold in the United States, the IIHS ranked 2017 models based on the best headlight packages available for each vehicle:
- Eleven models were rated as having “poor” headlights
- Twelve models were rated as having “marginal” headlights
- Twelve models were rated as having “acceptable” headlights
This was a slight improvement from the 2016 models that were tested by IIHS. Out of the 21 small SUV models tested, 12 received “poor” ratings, while only four were rated as “acceptable.” An IIHS senior research engineer commented that manufacturers are making improvements based on these ratings.
Best vs. Worst Models
The models that ranked best included the following:
- Volvo XC60
- Hyundai Santa Fe
The models that were ranked as poor performers included:
- Infiniti QX60
- Lincoln MKS
- Dodge Journey
- Ford Edge
- Ford Explorer
- GMC Terrain
- Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
- Jeep Wrangler
- Kia Sorento
- Toyota 4Runner
The swivel mechanism that allows the headlights to adapt to the curvature of the road has received mixed reviews. Some safety officials do not believe that these lights are better than stationary lights. For example, curve-adaptive low-beam lights that come equipped on the Kia Sorento provide a visibility of 148 feet, compared to the Volvo XC60 which provides right-side visibility of 315 feet on a straight alignment. The Volvo’s curve-adaptive low-beam lights are optional.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is urging policymakers to update regulations in order to allow the United States to adopt technology that is currently being used in Europe and Japan that could improve the headlight performance in a wide range of SUV models. For example, adaptive beam headlights that dim the light at oncoming cars is a valuable safety feature.
Toyota has been trying to convince the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to allow adaptive beam technology since 2013, but the organization has not yet made a decision. A NHTSA official said that they, along with the Department of Transportation (DOT), welcome any research that encourages motor vehicle manufacturers to improve the way their headlights perform. According to Brumbelow, manufacturers need to do a better job of making sure that the headlights are aimed properly before they are installed to reduce the risk of a car accident.
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