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Most pickups earn poor headlight grades

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Seven of 11 large and small pickup models tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earned “poor” ratings in headlight tests conducted by the group, which represents the insurance industry.

The institute said the 2017 Honda Ridgeline with top-of-the-line LED projector lights was the only large pickup that earned a “good” rating on headlight performance. Only one other large pickup tested — the 2016-17 GMC Sierra — earned an “acceptable” headlight rating, while two others — the 2017 Nissan Titan and 2016 Ram 1500 — earned a “marginal” grade.

The remaining three large pickups tested — 2016-17 Chevrolet Silverado, 2016-17 Ford F-150 and 2016-17 Toyota Tundra — earned “poor” headlight grades.

All four small pickups that were tested by the organization, which included the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado, 2016 GMC Canyon, 2016 Nissan Frontier and 2016-17 Toyota Tacoma, also each earned “poor’ headlight ratings.

Matthew Brumbelow, an institute senior research engineer, said the findings about poor headlight performance for pickups match earlier research conducted this year about the performance of midsize cars and SUVs.

“These latest ratings follow the same disappointing pattern as the other groups,” Brumbelow said in a statement. “As vehicle safety has improved in recent years, this important equipment has been overlooked.”

The insurance industry group said there are 23 headlight combinations available among the 11 pickup models it tested. The group said that 14 of the trucks, “have excessive glare, contributing to their poor ratings. “A vehicle cannot earn a rating better than marginal if it produces too much glare in any of the five test scenarios,” the institute said.

The institute said it is incorporating headlights into the criteria for its Top Safety Pick award. “To qualify for the 2017 award, vehicles will need good or acceptable headlights,” the group said.

The insurance institute found in July that not one of the 21 small SUVs earned a “good” rating in headlight tests, and the headlights for more than half of the vehicles were rated “poor.”

The IIHS said in July only the 2017 Ford Escape and 2016 Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-3 received “acceptable” ratings on headlight performance. Five others got “marginal” scores: the 2016 BMW X1, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan and Mitsubishi Outlander.

Twelve SUVs were rated “poor”: the 2017 Kia Sportage and 2016 Audi Q3, Jeep Renegade, Buick Encore, Jeep Wrangler, Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Honda HR-V, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Patriot and Subaru Forester.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing