Crossover headlights even worse than those of cars, IIHS warns image

After the US IIHS made earlier this year its first-ever evaluation over car headlights, pointing out they are doing a poor job, the institute has now tested some small SUVs and the results were even more concerning.

The US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said in March that only one midsize car out of 31 evaluated earned a good rating in its first-ever vehicle headlights tests, while the best available headlights on 11 cars scored an acceptable rating and nine reached just a marginal rating. IIHS has just published another headlight evaluation, targeting small SUVs this time, and not a single one out of 21 managed to receive a good assessment. With 47 different headlight combinations available, more than two-thirds of them were rated poor. IIHS warned that government standards in this direction need a serious review, as they are based on laboratory tests and do not accurately reflect the performance in real-world driving, especially considering the fact that half of traffic deaths happen either in the dark or around dawn or dusk.

As with midsize cars, the tests for small SUVs showed that a more expensive headlight technology, including HID, LED lamps or curve-adaptive systems, is not a guarantee for a better visibility. “Manufacturers aren’t paying enough attention to the actual on-road performance of this basic equipment,” IIHS Senior Research Engineer Matthew Brumbelow says. “We’re optimistic that improvements will come quickly now that we’ve given automakers something to strive for.” On this basis, companies will have to step up, as vehicles will need good or acceptable headlights starting from next year in order to qualify for the Institute’s highest award, Top Safety Pick+.

IIHS Headlight ratings for small SUVs
Best available headlight system for each model

Acceptable
2017 Ford Escape
Honda CR-V
Hyundai Tucson
Mazda CX-3

Marginal
BMW X1
BMW X1
Mitsubishi Outlander
Toyota RAV4
Volkswagen Tiguan

Poor
Audi Q3
Buick Encore
Chevrolet Trax
Fiat 500X
Honda HR-V
Jeep Patriot
Jeep Renegade
Jeep Renegade
2017 Kia Sportage
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester