Tests find that most midsize SUVs have unsafe headlights

Posted June 26, 2017

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.

Since few consumers test drive a vehicle at night before buying, IIHS headlight ratings help shed light on this basic, yet essential crash avoidance technology.

When fitted with their best headlight systems, 11 models were rated "poor", the lowest score possible.

In a statement to "CBS This Morning", Kia said the Kia Sorento "has been named a top safety pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety" and that "Kia will carefully evaluate the results of this test as part of its commitment to continuous improvement".

"That was the Volvo XC60 and the Hyundai Santa Fe, so they both do a really good job in all of our tests", says the IIHS's Matt Brumbelow.

While three other "good" rated headlights were of the high-intensity discharge (HID) type. Each of these can be paired with either reflectors or projector lenses. IIHS recommends buying vehicles with headlights rated "good" or "acceptable". On the right side of the straightaway, for example, the Sorento's low beams only illuminate 148 feet, compared with 315 feet for the XC60's low beams.

Auto manufacturers have lobbied the Feds for years to allow "adaptive beam headlights" in the US. The good-rated headlights are available in the "tech package" which can be added on to the two "ultimate" versions of the Santa Fe, the "SE Ultimate" and "Limited Ultimate" but not the two more basic versions, the "SE" and the "Limited", according to its website. When equipped with halogen projector headlights, the Edge and the Buick Envision would rate poor based on either glare or visibility alone.

The IIHS has recently started measuring headlight effectiveness, something it says it will soon incorporate into the requirements to earn its coveted Top Safety Pick+ award. The best available lights indicated the ratings for the model. Glare for oncoming vehicles is another factor to make sure that low beams aren't creating excessive glare. The Ford Edge was another model that received a poor rating for its lack of visibility.

The 2017 Volvo XC60 and the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe.

"Managing glare can be more challenging for taller vehicles like SUVs and pickups because their headlights are mounted higher than on cars", he said. The less glare, the better their rating.