IIHS study finds that small SUVs have terrible headlights

None of the 21 vehicles earned a rating of good.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested the headlights on 21 small SUVs and found the results to be disappointing. Not one earned the highest rating of "good", and only four earned an "acceptable" rating: the Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-3, and Honda CR-V. The other 17 SUVs earned either a "marginal" or "poor" rating. The IIHS claims the HR-V has the worst headlights of the group, while the Mazda CX-3 has the best.

To test headlights, the IIHS' engineers use a special device to measure how far the light is projected as the vehicle is driven in five different situations: traveling straight, a sharp right curve, a sharp left curve, a gradual right curve, and a gradual left curve. The IIHS also evaluates headlight glare from low beams and gives vehicles with high-beam assist brownie points. Seventeen of the SUVs produced "unacceptable glare," which by itself prevented three vehicles from receiving anything higher than a rating of acceptable.

Among the 21 SUVs, there were a total of 47 different headlight combinations, which include LED lamps, high-intensity discharge (HID), and curve-adaptive systems. Despite having modern, more expensive lighting systems, this group of small SUVs has worse headlights than the midsize cars the IIHS tested earlier this year. For next year, vehicles will need to earn either a good or acceptable rating in order to qualify for the IIHS' Top Safety Pick+.

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