When it comes to headlights, pickup trucks perform poorly — as do other vehicle categories — according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Over the past few months, the organization has criticized the performance of headlights after conducting a series of group tests.
As with previous tests involving cars and crossovers, the IIHS found the majority of new pickup trucks to have inadequate lighting. All four “small” pickup trucks in its group test received the lowest rating of “poor,” while only one “large” truck, the Honda Ridgeline, received the top rating of “good.” Note that the Ridgeline and all trucks in the “small” category are generally considered midsize trucks, while all other trucks tested are full-size models.
The IIHS tested 11 trucks with 23 possible headlight combinations. The Ridgeline was the only bright spot (no pun intended), and only performed well with the headlight system available on the RTL-E and Black Edition trim levels. This included LED projector low beams and high-beam assist, which automatically switches the high beams on when no other vehicles are present.
The GMC Sierra earned an “acceptable” rating with headlights available on certain trim levels. Both Nissan Titan headlight systems received a “marginal” rating, as did certain Ram 1500 systems. Every other truck in the test received a “poor” rating. The IIHS rates headlights by measuring projection over a straightaway and left and righthand curves, as well as the level of glare for oncoming drivers.
Among the trucks rated “poor” was the Ford F-150, which is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. The IIHS found both base halogen and optional LED lighting systems to be inadequate, with the LED system producing “unacceptable” levels of glare. The headlights with the worst level of visibility belonged to the Chevrolet Colorado. The Chevy’s base halogen low beams could only illuminate up to 123 feet on the right side of the straightway, compared to 358 feet for the Ridgeline’s LED low beams.
Automakers will have to improve their performance if they want to continue getting top ratings from the IIHS. Beginning with the 2017 model year, vehicles will need headlights rated “good” or “acceptable” to receive the organization’s highest rating, Top Safety Pick+.