Most car headlights need improvement, IIHS says image

The US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made its first-ever evaluation over car headlights and it found out that most of them are not doing such a good job.

The Toyota Prius v is the only midsize car out of 31 evaluated to earn a good rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s first-ever vehicle headlights ratings. The best available headlights on 11 cars earned an acceptable rating, while only nine reached a marginal rating. Ten of the vehicles can’t be purchased with anything other than poor-rated headlights, according to the insurance group. It says that car’s price tag is not a guarantee of decent headlights, as many of the poor-rated headlights belong to luxury vehicles. “If you’re having trouble seeing behind the wheel at night, it could very well be your headlights and not your eyes that are to blame,” says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer.

As vehicles can be fitted with different headlight technologies, there were a total of 82 ratings for 2016 models even though there were only 31 vehicles. IIHS is rating every possible headlight combination as it becomes available from dealers. The Prius v earns a good rating only when equipped with LED lights and high-beam assist, which is available on the highest trim level. However, when fitted with regular halogen lights and without high-beam assist, the Prius v gets a poor evaluation. Among the 44 headlight systems receiving a poor rating, the halogen lights on the BMW 3 series are the worst, the Institute’s charts show.

IIHS 2016 midsize-car headlights evaluation:

Toyota Prius v


Audi A3
Honda Accord 4-door
Infiniti Q50
Lexus ES
Lexus IS
Mazda 6
Nissan Maxima
Subaru Outback
(built after Nov. 2015)
Volkswagen CC
Volkswagen Jetta
Volvo S60


Acura TLX
Audi A4
BMW 2 series
BMW 3 series
Chrysler 200
Ford Fusion
Lincoln MKZ
Subaru Legacy
Toyota Camry


Buick Verano
Cadillac ATS
Chevrolet Malibu
Chevrolet Malibu Limited
(fleet model)
Hyundai Sonata
Kia Optima
Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Mercedes-Benz CLA
Nissan Altima
Volkswagen Passat