Midsize SUVs score poorly in latest test of headlight performance.

Do a lot of night-time driving? Then pay attention to this list when you’re shopping for a midsize SUV. A new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety sheds some light on which models fail to adequately illuminate the roadway in the dark.

The IIHS first began evaluating vehicle headlights in 2016. Engineers test how far light is transmitted from a car’s low and high beams, how much “glare” the low beams cause for oncoming drivers, and whether different headlight options in each trim level produce different lighting results.

For midsize SUVs, the IIHS evaluated 37 models and rated only two as having “Good” headlight performance, the Volvo XC60 (the outgoing 2017 version) and Hyundai Santa Fe. Twelve models were rated “Acceptable,” and the remaining 23 vehicles fell into the IIHS’s groupings of “Marginal” or “Poor.” Vehicles must have "Good" or "Acceptable" headlight ratings to receive the group's Top Safety Pick+ award.

"As a group, midsize SUV headlights perform slightly better than the other SUVs and pickups we evaluated last year, and that's encouraging," IIHS Senior Research Engineer Matt Brumbelow said in a statement. "Still, we continue to see headlights that compromise safety because they only provide a short view down the road at night."

For instance, the study said the Kia Sorento was one of the worst-performing vehicles in the study. Its low beams only illuminated 148 feet (45 meters) ahead of the vehicle, whereas the XC60’s managed to shine light 315 feet (96 meters).

The 37 vehicles had a total of 79 different headlight options, when including optional variants like LED or HID options. IIHS also provides extra credit to vehicles with automatic high-beam technology. The complete ranking of midsize SUVs is below; the rankings are based on the best-performing headlight option for each vehicle.

Good Acceptable Marginal Poor
Hyundai Santa Fe Acura MDX Audi Q5 (2018) Dodge Journey
Volvo XC60 (2017) Acura RDX BMW X3 Ford Edge
  BMW X5 Cadillac XT5 Ford Explorer
  Buick Envision Chevrolet Equinox (2018) GMC Terrain
  Honda Pilot Dodge Durango Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  Infiniti QX70 Ford Flex Infiniti QX60
  Jeep Cherokee GMC Acadia Jeep Wrangler
  Jeep Grand Cherokee Infiniti QX50 Kia Sorento
  Lexus NX Lincoln MKT Lincoln MKC
  Lexus RX Nissan Murano Lincoln MKX
  Mercedes-Benz GLE Nissan Pathfinder Toyota 4Runner
  Toyota Highlander Volvo XC90  

The IIHS has previously critiqued most pickup-truck headlight options, and found that expensive optional lights don’t always provide better illumination.

Source: IIHS


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