According to a test performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), most small SUVs aren’t earning acceptable ratings when it comes to headlight evaluations. Out of 21 small SUVs tested, none earned a good a rating, and only four are offered with acceptable-rated headlights. There are 47 headlight combinations available for this group of vehicles, but more than two-thirds of them received a poor rating.
Seventeen of the rated SUV headlight combinations have unacceptable glare levels. They include all types of lights — halogen, HID and LED — and none of the headlight types is more likely than the others to have excessive glare. Three of the 17 fell short of an acceptable rating on the basis of glare alone.
The IIHS rating system is measured by the amount of usable light provided by low beams and high beams and is rated based on a test of approaches: traveling straight, a sharp left curve, a sharp right curve, a gradual left curve and a gradual right curve.
Since headlight performance isn’t monitored through on-road performance prior to being sold, the quality of headlights can’t be assured, no matter the cost of the vehicle.
In hopes of improvement, vehicles will need to earn good or acceptable headlight ratings in order to qualify for the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick+ for 2017. Matthew Brumbelow, IIHS senior research executive engineer, remains hopeful.
“We’re optimistic that improvements will come quickly now that we’ve given automakers something to strive for,” he says.
IIHS plans to conduct headlight tests on pickups next.