Most 2018 base-model cars earn poor headlight grades

Keith Laing
The Detroit News

Most base-model 2018 cars 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 of the 424 headlight possibilities across trims on 2018 models it tested, only the Genesis G90 luxury sedan and the Lexus NX midsize luxury SUV have  headlights that are rated "good" at every level.  

The group said the best-available headlights on the Chevrolet Volt, Genesis G80, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Toyota Camry received good ratings, while the lowest lights on cheaper trims were only rated acceptable.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to buy a fully loaded vehicle to get the headlights they need to safely drive at night,” says David Aylor, manager of active safety testing at IIHS. “All new vehicles should come with good headlights.”

The 2018 Genesis G90

IIHS said 15 other models received "acceptable" ratings across the board. Thirty-two of 165 models that were tested earned the highest rating of good for their best-available headlights, while 58 models earn the second-highest rating of "acceptable" on their high-trim lights. 

Of the 424 headlight possibilities across trims on 2018 models that were tested by IIHS, 67 percent earned a "marginal" or "poor" rating due to lights the organization said provided inadequate visibility or excessive glare from low beams for oncoming drivers, or both in some case. 

IIHS said good headlight ratings are required to qualify for its 2018 Top Safety Pick+ award, and good or acceptable ratings are requirement for its Top Safety Pick  designation. The Institute said it is evaluating headlights on contenders for the 2019
awards, which will be announced in December.

The following 2018 models received poor ratings on all of their headlight variations across trims:

  • Audi Q3
  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Cadillac ATS
  • Cadillac CTS
  • Chevrolet Bolt
  • Chevrolet Colorado (crew)
  • Chevrolet Colorado (extended)
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (crew)
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (extended)
  • Chrysler 300
  • Dodge Charger
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Dodge Journey
  • Fiat 500X
  • Ford Edge
  • Ford Explorer
  • Ford F-150 (crew)
  • Ford F-150 (extended)
  • Ford Fusion
  • Ford Taurus
  • GMC Canyon (crew)
  • GMC Canyon (extended)
  • GMC Terrain
  • Honda Civic (2-door)
  • Honda Civic (4-door sedan)
  • Honda Civic (4-door hatchback)
  • Honda Fit
  • Honda HR-V
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Infiniti QX60
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
  • Mercedes Benz C-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA
  • Nissan Frontier (crew)
  • Nissan Frontier (extended)
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Toyota C-HR
  • Toyota Yaris iA
  • Volkswagen Passat
  • Volkswagen Tiguan Limited