Most Pickup Headlights Ranked “Poor” by IIHS
Maybe that’s why LED lightbars are so popular…by Mark McNabb, on
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted a full review of pickup truck headlight, finding that all but one model failed the rigorous standards. It was the 2017 Honda Ridgeline’s optional LED projector beam low beams that passed testing with a rating of “Good.”
The pickup segment is now the third category to undergo the IIHS’ headlight evaluation. Mid-sized cars were evaluated first, followed by crossovers. Like the pickups, most cars and crossovers ranked poorly.
"These latest ratings follow the same disappointing pattern as the other groups," says Matthew Brumbelow, an IIHS senior research engineer. "As vehicle safety has improved in recent years, this important equipment has been overlooked."
Testing includes measuring the distance the light travels in on-road driving. Low beams and high beams are evaluated, both straight roads and around curves. Also a big factor is the glare produced by the headlights. Excessive amounts of glare hinder oncoming traffic’s visibility.
The IIHS evaluated 11 trucks with 23 headlight combinations. Many trucks offer different headlight options between base trim levels and high-end trims. Of the 23 lights tested, 14 had excessive glare. Glare factors into the scores, keeping even good headlights from ranking above “Marginal” should they have too much glare.
Opposite the Ridgeline’s “Good” LED headlights, all versions of the Ford F-150 ranked “Poor.” This includes both the halogen lights from the base trims and the optional LED units in upper trims. It was the Chevrolet Colorado that scored the worst, however. The IISH said the halogen reflector low beams only illuminate 123 feet ahead of the truck. For scale, the Ridgeline’s LED low beams shoot an impressive 358 feet ahead.
These scores all factor into the IIHS’ safety rankings for new trucks for the 2017 model year. Headlights must be scored as “Good” before the IIHS will give a vehicle its highest award, the Top Safety Pick+.
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Why It Matters
Nobody wants a new vehicle with headlights that don’t do their job. Obviously it’s also a huge safety factor, as being able to see on a dark road is important. Just as important, oncoming traffic should not be blinded by glare. That’s why the IIHS has begun testing headlights.
I can attest from personal experience in my weekly vehicle evaluations that not all headlights are created equal. Some modern projector beam headlights do a good job of lighting the immediate area at the vehicles’ front, but dramatically drop off further off into a black abyss. This makes it incredibly easy to “over drive” the headlights, even at legal highway speeds.
Truck Headlight Rankings
Read our full review on the Honda Ridgeline here.
Read our full review on the GMC Sierra here.
Read our full review on the Nissan Titan here.
Read our full review on the Ram 1500 here.
Read our full review on the Chevrolet Silverado here.
Read our full review on the Ford F-150 here.
Read our full review on the Toyota Tundra here.
Read our full review on the Chevrolet Colorado here.
Read our full review on the GMC Canyon here.
Read our full review on the Nissan Frontier here.
Read our full review on the Toyota Tacoma here.
* Certain models of GMC Sierras come with headlights that ranked better than other trim levels and better than its sister truck, the Chevrolet Silverado.