If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety isn’t seeing it.
The group just released new headlight tests for midsize SUVs and only two out of 37 vehicles tested earned “good” ratings – the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and 2017 Volvo XC60. The vast majority earned “poor” and “marginal” ratings, including some of the most popular SUVs in the segment which include the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Edge and Ford Explorer.
The IIHS tests focused on two areas: how well low and high beams lit up the road ahead and whether headlights created significant glare that could blind oncoming drivers. The tests involved the best available headlight system for each model.
Illuminating the Road
The XC60 earned a top rating thanks to its optional curve-adaptive HID projector headlights, which swivel with the steering wheel to better highlight bends in the road.
One of the worst performers was the 2017 Kia Sorento with headlights that only illuminate 148 feet down a straight road. The Volvo more than doubles that number – scoring 315 feet on the same test. Kia says it will “consider the findings” and considering how well they did with a quick fix on the Optima’s, there’s certainly hope for the Sorento.
Researchers also say more than half of the headlight variants tested had too much glare that could blind oncoming drivers. Since headlights are mounted higher on SUVs, it can be more of an issue.
This really caught the top ranking Santa Fe Sport by surprise. While the standard size Santa Fe made the top two, the new, slightly smaller Sport sibling earned “poor” glare ratings for each of its three headlight options.
The 2017 Ford Edge and 2017 Buick Envision also received “poor” ratings because of glare.
The IIHS started testing headlights in 2016. If there is any silver lining it’s that midsize SUVs rank better than smaller SUVs tested last year, when none of the 21 models tested earned a “good” rating.
Ford, FCA, Hyundai, Nissan, and Toyota all say they plan to look into the test results. All the models do pass federal standards.