A recent study by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has ruled that the Toyota Prius V headlights are the best out of 31 cars it has tested. While headlights are not something that most people think of when buying a car (and the fact that the more prestigious a brand, the better everything in it is, is the assumption). Considering most accidents take place at night, you will want to take the IIHS’ say as to the importance of the quality of headlights.
According to the IIHS, the Toyota Prius V is the only midsize car out of 31 tested (and 82, if you want to include all the variants of the 31 models) to get a good rating. 10 of 31 vehicles tested can’t be bought with anything but poor-rated headlights. Nine of the 31 cars get marginal ratings. The news is depressing indeed. Here are the 10 vehicles that are judged to have poor headlights. You will probably want to swap out the stock headlamps for new ones if you own one of these cars.
- Buck Verano
- Cadillac ATS
- Chevrolet Malibu
- Chevrolet Malibu Limited
- Hyundai Sonata
- Kia Optima
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class
- Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
- Nissan Altima
- Volkswagen Passat
How is the evaluation done?
Headlights are evaluated on the track after dark at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center. A special device measures the light from both low beams and high beams as the vehicle is driven on five different approaches: traveling straight, a sharp left curve, a sharp right curve, a gradual left curve and a gradual right curve.
The readings on the straightway are weighted more heavily than those on the curves. According to the IIHS, crashes occur more often on straight sections of the road. You would naturally slow down for curves and that gives you more reaction time. To get a better idea of how dangerous bad headlights can be for your safety, look at the image below:
Why the Toyota Prius V scores better?
The IIHS says that the halogen lamps on the BMW 3 Series are the worst of the lot. It says that a driver with those headlights would have to be going 35mph or slower to stop in time for an obstacle in the travel lane. Contrast that with a driver in a Toyota Prius V, who could be going 70mph and still stop in time. Get the difference? You could be going twice as fast and still stop on time with better headlamps.
The IIHS also notes that newer isn’t always better. Curve-adaptive systems, for example, don’t always lead to better ratings. The Cadillac ATS, Kia Optima, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class all earn poor ratings even when equipped with adaptive low and high beams. IIHS likes adaptive low and high beam systems because drivers often don’t switch on their high beams when they should.
Now that you are aware of how vital good quality headlamps are, factor them in your next purchase of a new car, or upgrade your existing car’s headlamps to better ones. Safety is paramount and good headlamps are the key.