Car Industry

Blinded by the (lack of) light: IIHS finds small-SUV headlights sadly deficient

Of 21 small crossovers tested, not a single one earned the safety group's Good rating.

Honda, Wieck
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Here's the full list of "winners," if you're a small crossover owner who wants to feel a bit depressed.

IIHS

You probably don't give your headlights much thought. You turn them on, you turn them off, you don't crash because you can't see. But there's more to it than that, and if you own a small crossover, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety would like you to know that your headlights are probably terrible.

The IIHS tested 21 different small crossovers, covering some 47 different combinations of headlights. Overall, more than two-thirds of the group ended up with a Poor rating. Only four vehicles -- the 2017 Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-3 -- scored Acceptable. No car earned a Good rating. IIHS claimed the Honda HR-V's headlights were the worst of the bunch.

This wasn't a purely subjective exercise. The IIHS relied on sensors to test both light output and low-beam glare. Additional brownie points were awarded to vehicles with automatic high beams, which turn the high beams on and off, depending on whether incoming traffic is present. Seventeen of the vehicles tested were claimed to produce "unacceptable glare." Three cars fell short of the Acceptable rating for that alone.

The winner of the group -- if you can call an Acceptable rating worthy of winning -- is the Mazda CX-3 in Grand Touring trim. It has curve-adaptive LED headlights, which provided ample illumination in most tests, save for the gradual left curve.

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