Sci-tech

Tests find that most midsize SUVs have unsafe headlights

Tests find that most midsize SUVs have unsafe headlights

NEW YORK (AP) - More than half of the midsize SUVs tested by an insurance industry group were found to have unsafe headlights that either didn't light up the road far enough or caused glare for oncoming drivers.

The only models available with "Good"-rated headlights were the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and the 2017 Volvo xc60". Twelve SUVs are available with headlights rated acceptable, while 23 aren't available with anything other than marginal- or poor-rated headlights.

This is the fourth group of vehicles that IIHS has tested and evaluated since it began rating headlights in 2016.

"As a group, midsize SUV headlights perform slightly better than the other SUVs and pickups we evaluated a year ago, and that's encouraging", IIHS senior research engineer Matt Brumbelow said in a statement.

"They are still coming up short, but things are improving", IIHS senior research engineer Matt Brumbelow said.

Among the problems with headlights are basic manufacturing errors.

That's according to evaluations by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

While numerous models performed poorly because they didn't provide enough light, others created significant glare that could distract or blind oncoming drivers.

Some automakers are offering new lights that swivel with the curvature of the road, but they aren't necessarily better than stationary headlights. Low beams are more important than high beams for the test since those are the lights used most of the time. Each of these can be paired with either reflectors or projector lenses. Projector headlights use one lens to spread light while reflectors have multiple surfaces that bounce light forward. Models equipped with high-beam assist earn extra credit in IIHS ratings. The good-rated HID headlights are available if XC60 purchasers upgrade to the "advanced package" or the "active dual xenon headlights package".

"So, when I say the Kia Sorento, 35 miles an hour is really about fastest you should be driving with your low beams on", Brumbelow said. On the right side of a straightaway, the Sorento's low-beams illuminate 148 feet, compared with 315 feet for the XC60, for example.

The list of poor performers includes some of the biggest sellers in the segment, such as the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Edge and Ford Explorer.

Out of 37 models tested, only two received the agency's highest ranking of "good" when it comes to lighting both straight aways and curves, along with causing limited glare for oncoming drivers. The high beams on both versions have inadequate visibility, too.

The Ford Edge's HID low-beams did not provide enough visibility, either, and they also produced too much glare, IIHS reports.

In one round, researchers evaluated 37 SUVs with 79 possible headlight combinations.

IIHS said 17 of the 79 headlight variants would be rated as poor due to excessive glare alone and glare complaints are common. That includes the small overlap test meant to replicate a common highway occurrence where oncoming cars clip each other's headlights. The less glare, the better their rating.

Toyota said, "Toyota remains committed to providing headlights that provide appropriate lighting performance for the drivers of our vehicles while being sensitive to the glare that will be experienced by drivers of oncoming vehicles". The other two available headlight packages also create excessive glare, and all three are rated poor. The curve-adaptive HID projector headlights with high-beam assist, part of the Tech Package, earn a good rating.

The 2017 Volvo XC60 from the luxury side and the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe from the non-luxury side. The rest received grades of "marginal" or "poor".


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