Most SUV headlights earn poor or marginal grades, study finds


Only two of the 37 midsize SUVs evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) earned “good” ratings for headlight safety.

A majority of the vehicles tested had either “marginal” or “poor” headlights, according to a new study.

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Midsize SUVs get poor marks for headlights

Few people test-drive a vehicle at night, so the ratings can shed light on nighttime visibility, which is crucial because around half of traffic deaths occur in the dark or at dawn or dusk.

For the study, engineers used sensors to measure how much light is projected by low beams and high beams on a straightaway and on curves.

They also measured how much glare is created by the low beams for oncoming drivers, a common complaint.

“As a group, midsize SUV headlights perform slightly better than the other SUVs and pickups we evaluated last year, and that’s encouraging,” said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Matt Brumbelow. “Still, we continue to see headlights that compromise safety because they only provide a short view down the road at night.”

The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and the 2017 Volvo XC60 earned “good” ratings for their headlights, which sufficiently lit up the road without blinding oncoming drivers due to glare.

Meanwhile, the Kia Sorento was ranked one of the worst midsize SUVs for visibility.


According to IIHS, on the right side of the straightaway, the Sorento’s low beams only illuminate 148 feet, compared with 315 feet for the XC60’s low beams.

Here are the headlight ratings for all 37 midsize SUVs tested:


  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Volvo XC60


  • Acura MDX
  • Acura RDX
  • BMW X5
  • Buick Envision
  • Infiniti QX70
  • Lexus NX
  • Lexus RX
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE
  • Honda Pilot
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Toyota Highlander


  • 2018 Audi Q5
  • BMW X3
  • Cadillac XT5
  • Infiniti QX50
  • Lincoln MKT
  • Volvo XC90
  • 2018 Chevrolet Equinox
  • Dodge Durango
  • Ford Flex
  • GMC Acadia
  • Nissan Murano
  • Nissan Pathfinder


  • Infiniti QX60
  • Lincoln MKC
  • Lincoln MKX
  • Dodge Journey
  • Ford Edge
  • Ford Explorer
  • GMC Terrain
  • Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Kia Sorento
  • Toyota 4Runner

This is the fourth group of vehicles IIHS has evaluated since it began headlight ratings in 2016. Search test results for your vehicle at

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