Study finds some new car headlights suck

Bru

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I'd like to see these tests repeated with aftermarket HID, LED and high-output halogen bulbs.

https://www.cars.com/articles/new-iihs-headlight-tests-illuminate-many-poor-performers-1420684250604/

CARS.COM — The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested 31 cars for headlight effectiveness, and 19 models, including several luxury cars from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, earned marginal or poor scores.

Related: IIHS Announces 2016 Top Safety Pick List

Federal headlight standards "allow huge variation in the amount of illumination that headlights provide in actual on-road driving," IIHS said, noting that roughly half of all traffic fatalities occur during the dawn, dusk or nighttime. The agency's evaluation, conducted at night, measured how far headlights illuminate the road at various distances — 200 to 500 feet, depending on the test — to a specified level of illumination with the low and high beams. IIHS also tested how much glare the low beams create for oncoming cars. The agency measured performance in a straight line and various curves, and it kept any adjustable-aim lights at their default angles. IIHS said it weighted straight-line and low-beam performance more.

Many cars offer higher-end headlights (LEDs or high-intensity discharge lights that swivel in a curve or automatically switch between high and low beams, for example) as optional equipment over a fixed halogen setup. In most cases, IIHS scored multiple lighting systems offered on each car — a total of 82 lighting variations on 31 models. Even so, the agency noted that 10 of those 31 models had poor scores even with their best-performing systems.

IIHS scores are good, acceptable, marginal and poor. Here's the full list of overall scores for the 2016 models tested; all scores reflect the best-performing system.

Good:

Toyota Prius v

Acceptable:

Audi A3
Honda Accord sedan
Infiniti Q50
Lexus ES
Lexus IS
Mazda6
Nissan Maxima
Subaru Outback (models built after November 2015)
Volkswagen CC
Volkswagen Jetta
Volvo S60

Marginal:

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

Poor:

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

Even among models that scored acceptable or good, securing that score often requires buying an optional headlight system that can be hard to find. Take the Toyota Prius v, the lone car to score good with its optional LED headlights and automatic high beams. Those lights are hard to find: LED headlights come on just 15.5 percent of new 2016 Prius v inventory on Cars.com. The vast majority of cars you'll find at dealerships have halogen lights, which earned a poor IIHS score.

The case is similar for many cars. Of the 11 models that scored acceptable with certain headlights, all but one had marginal or poor scores with other headlights. It's possible the remaining car, the Volkswagen CC, would have been part of the group, too, as IIHS only published results for the CC's upgraded headlights.

The variances in performance were significant. The worst-performing car in the group was the BMW 3 Series, whose standard halogen headlights illuminated only 130 feet ahead on a straightaway at low-beam levels, IIHS said. Contrast that with the Prius v; its LED low beams illuminated nearly 400 feet — a distance the 3 Series' high beams barely reached. (The 3 Series earned a marginal rating with its optional adaptive LED headlights and automatic high beams.) And better technology doesn't always produce superior results: The Honda Accord's standard halogen lights earned an acceptable rating, while its optional LED headlights scored marginal.
 

Stink Star Productions

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Surprised to see the optima on there. The wife has one and the lights are fantastic, especially compared to my Volt which is like holding a candle in front of a mirror.
 

Gav'sPurpleZ

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they can add the frontier's lights to the " complete shit " column
 

Bruce Jibboo

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Audi must have missed the good rating because everyone always thinks you have your brights on :io:
 

SaturdaysGS

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My mom has a 2016 200c with the HID headlights and I think they're better than marginal. Maybe that test was just the halogen lights for that vehicle? A couple cars I see in that list are surprising though.
 

Thirdgen89GTA

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If those lights are marginal, then the headlights on my TransAm can only be used to signal other drivers I'm driving in their general direction.

Of the 14v produced by the alternator, the crappy wiring gets maybe 10v to the headlights. Ouch. Popular mod is to install a relay harness using the original power wires as a signal wire, and draw juice directly from the battery.
 

Mr_Roboto

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If those lights are marginal, then the headlights on my TransAm can only be used to signal other drivers I'm driving in their general direction.

Of the 14v produced by the alternator, the crappy wiring gets maybe 10v to the headlights. Ouch. Popular mod is to install a relay harness using the original power wires as a signal wire, and draw juice directly from the battery.
Yep, that's a mod I want to do to my other vehicles. Heard it works really awesome and it saves stress on my light switches which are likely going to be progressively harder to get (Astro) or repops I don't want to pay for (Lemans.)

I like that they included glare in their stuff. It seems like the new stuff dazzles the shit out of me at times. I don't know if it's because people mod their shit, I'm getting old or that's just the way the new stuff is.
 

Fish

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Surprised to see the optima on there. The wife has one and the lights are fantastic, especially compared to my Volt which is like holding a candle in front of a mirror.
Same with the Sonata. My wife's 2015 is pretty damn good. Especially with stock projectors. Ive thought about getting LEDs for both cars just to up the ante.

Then again, I compare everything to a 97-03 GP, and my streamlight stylus pro might be brighter then those. :rofl:
 

Shibby50

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Same with the Malibu, unless this is the new 2016 model. I'm always telling her how I wished all our cars had lights that good.
 

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