The Only Pickup With Good Headlight Visibility is the One You Didn't Buy

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
the only pickup with good headlight visibility is the one you didn t buy

Hoping to shed some light on the effectiveness of modern crash avoidance technology, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has spent much of this year evaluating the quality of headlights in late model vehicles.

Its research has shown that most midsize cars could use some serious refinement and small SUVs are downright abysmal in terms of road illumination. So, it may not shock you to hear that most pickup trucks did poorly in those same tests.

In fact, there was only a single model that received a good rating, and you probably don’t know anybody who drives one.

IIHS began its own headlight research after finding government standards allow for massive variations in the levels of measurable illumination provided in testing. The Institute’s assessment, however, examines each vehicle on the same criteria based upon how far light is projected from a vehicle’s low beams and high beams as t14he vehicle travels straight and around curves. It also measures glare from low beams for oncoming traffic. Still, too much glare prevents even the furthest reaching headlight from receiving a high rating.

Of the 11 trucks and 23 possible headlight configurations tested, only the Honda Ridgeline made the grade. Tested in both RTL-E and Black trims, the IIHS found the Ridgeline’s lights to be inadequate only in a gradual left curve and acceptable everywhere else.

GMC’s Sierra possessed acceptable headlights on certain trims while other versions earned a marginal or poor rating.

The remaining trucks didn’t do so hot, with the Ford F-150 being one of the worst performers of the bunch. The Institute decided that neither the halogen or optional LEDs headlights offered on the F-150 provided adequate visibility. Visibility on curves was deemed exceptionally poor, as was low beam visibility on straightaways. The truck was additionally faulted with producing excessive glare for oncoming drivers.

Ford sold 83,468 F-Series trucks in North America last month while Honda sold 3,859 Ridglines.

The IIHS says it will be incorporating headlights into its new criteria for its “best in safety” award for 2017. To qualify, vehicles will need to have acceptable-rated headlights or better. That’s a shame for Ford, as the F-150 actually qualified as a Top Safety Pick for 2016.

[Image: Scoo/ Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 2.5)]

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  • Brettc Brettc on Oct 26, 2016

    I ended up buying 65 watt H7 Osram bulbs for my Sportwagen because the low beams were so dim. They do help and haven't melted my wiring in the 3 years I've had them. The nice thing about VWs is that they have a light sensor in the cluster which helps you to remember to turn headlights on if it gets dark out and you're still running with DRLs only. My wife's 2014 Jetta sedan has pretty decent factory lights, no 65 watt bulbs required for it. My next car will have Xenons, after seeing how they perform in my brother's Mazda 5.

  • Missfruitcake Missfruitcake on Dec 08, 2016

    This is an interesting post. So if I were to upgrade my headlights, what would be the recommendations?

  • Dukeisduke That instrument cluster is lame, like something out of an S-10 pickup.And why is the Purple Pantsuit Guy video still up? Is that some kind of punishment?
  • SCE to AUX "The MSRP for a 1992 Camaro RS coupe with 5.0, 5-speed and T-Top roof was $13,339 (about $29,655 after inflation)."That's a remarkable price, even for a base model. But even then people knew these weren't very good cars.However, kudos to this one for going the distance.
  • Oberkanone Install immobilizer for all affected Hyundai Kia. At no cost. Offer loyalty incentive $1000 toward new Hyundai Kia to all affected owners. Apologize.Road to redemption begins here. I believe Kong Fuzi would advise failure to fix the vehicles will result in greater damage to Hyundai and Kia.
  • KOKing Huh, I figured by end of production the TBI 305s were all gone. It just seems like by then every one had that 'TUNED PORT INJECTION' badge on the rear bumper.
  • Mike Beranek If they really want your car, they'll just drag it up onto a rollback and drive away. In about 15 seconds.