IIHS Gives Two Mid-Size SUVs “Good”-Rated Headlights

According to a recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than half of mid-size SUVs are not equipped with adequate headlights.

While headlights are improving in respect to visibility, the study notes, “many still need to do a better job of lighting the road ahead while limiting bothersome glare.” 

According to the IIHS, only two models out of the 37 that were surveyed produced good-rated headlights: the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and the 2017 Volvo XC60. In addition, 12 SUVs are available with headlights rated as acceptable, and the remaining 23 received marginal or poor ratings.

“As a group, midsize SUV headlights perform slightly better than the other SUVs and pickups we evaluated last year, and that’s encouraging,” says Matt Brumbelow, IIHS senior research engineer. “Still, we continue to see headlights that compromise safety because they only provide a short view down the road at night.”

During the headlight evaluations, engineers measure the distance the light travels from a vehicle’s low beams and high beams as the vehicle travels, both straight and through curves. Glare from the vehicle’s low beams is also measured.

The SUVs with the worst-rated headlights were the Kia Sorento and the Ford Edge. According to the report, the Sorento’s low beams only illuminated up to 148 feet, where the Volvo XC60’s were 315 feet.

Glare was also a common factor among this class of SUVs.

“More than half of the 79 headlight variants evaluated have too much glare. In 17 of those cases, the headlights would be rated poor based on glare alone,” reads the report. “Complaints about glare from oncoming headlights are common, research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates.”

However, glare is mostly due to a vehicle’s height, the IIHS suggests, which can be fixed with better aim at the manufacturer.

In order to be considered for a 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award, vehicles need to receive good- or acceptable-rated headlights.

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