How safe is a car when the driver can’t really see the road? The answer seems obvious, yet until recently a vehicle could be ranked among the safest in its class without advanced headlights.
For 2018 models, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) changed their testing system to end that practice. From here on out, only models with “good” headlight ratings can win a Top Safety Pick+ award.
Amazingly, in a high-profit segment like utility vehicles, many SUVs still have headlights that rate poorly. Here are the 13 models that got the worst ratings for 2018.
1. Ford Edge
The IIHS ran tests on two different headlights in the 2018 Edge. In the first, HID projectors fell short of the mark. As for the halogen projectors (found even in the Titanium trim), Edge’s headlights didn’t come close to optimal illumination for high beams or low beams. IIHS testers reported “excessive glare” in both cases.
2. Toyota 4Runner
While the Toyota 4Runner posts extraordinary reliability ratings year after year, its safety ratings could use some work. We’ll start by zeroing in on the headlights. On bends in the road, visibility was deemed “inadequate.” Meanwhile, front crash-test scores (“marginal”) left much to be desired.
3. Volkswagen Tiguan Limited
In the first year of testing for the Tiguan Limited, Volkswagen got some bad feedback from the IIHS. Again, we’ll start with the poor headlights. Visibility rated “inadequate” for both high beams and low beams. This model also had issues with front crash tests.
4. Dodge Journey
Of the five SUVs that posted poor ratings in crash tests for 2018, only Dodge Journey got the lowest score for driver-side protection. (Passenger-side test data was unavailable for this model.) That’s certainly a cause for concern, and its poorly rated headlights present another. Journey’s halogen reflectors did not provide quality visibility on curves.
5. Honda HR-V
If you want solid fuel economy and strong reliability, the Honda HR-V is definitely a small SUV to consider. However, this crossover’s headlights don’t cut it compared to the safest vehicles in the segment. (Again, visibility on the curves was inadequate.) HR-V also did not post a strong score in small-overlap-front crash tests.
6. Hyundai Kona
The 2018 Hyundai Kona aced every IIHS crash test and offers “superior” crash-prevention technology. However, this new subcompact SUV couldn’t land a safety award with those credentials due to a poor headlight score. Testers noted excessive glare in two types of LED projectors, while visibility on curving roads was also inadequate.
7. Audi Q3
With entry-level luxury vehicles, automakers haven’t seemed to invest in the same level of protection as they have with larger, pricier models. That makes sense on some levels (i.e., getting what you pay for). However, it’s something to remember when considering a purchase of a vehicle like the Audi Q3.
For 2018 editions, buyers still can’t add crash-prevention technology. Meanwhile, the poorly rated headlights (especially HID projectors) didn’t deliver adequate visibility.
8. GMC Terrain
In the case of the GMC Terrain, you can safely say headlights are this model’s safety weakness. Terrain aced each of the six crash tests, rated “superior” with optional crash-prevention tech, and has easy-to-use child-seat latches. However, testers reported excessive glare in four different headlight configurations. That spoiled any safety award that may have been in the offing.
9. Infiniti QX60
There’s only one midsize luxury SUV with headlights rated “poor,” and it’s the 2018 Infiniti QX60. Both types of HID projector lights the IIHS tested showed excessive glare. In terms of range, they did perform well enough on curves and straightaways. The problem came in the quality of the light.
10. Fiat 500X
While the Fiat 500X did post strong scores in crash tests and optional crash-avoidance tech, its poor headlights landed it on this list. For both high beams and low beams, the halogen projectors yielded “inadequate” visibility. Child-seat anchors rated marginal for the 500X as well.
11. Ford Explorer
Along with Dodge Journey, Ford Explorer is one of just two SUVs with poor crash-test ratings (small overlap front) and poor headlight ratings for 2018. Explorer’s halogen reflectors and LED reflectors both turned up excessive glare in testing. Meanwhile, both high beams and low beams proved inadequate.
12. Jeep Renegade
While the Jeep Renegade fared better than Grand Cherokee in crash tests, the small SUV’s headlights rated poor in IIHS tests. As in many other crossovers on this list, inadequate visibility in different high beam and low beam tests led to the rating for the halogen reflectors. Child-seat anchors rated “marginal” for ease of use for Renegade as well.
13. Toyota CH-R
The new Toyota small SUV dubbed “CH-R” had a strong showing in its first year of crash testing. In fact, CH-R aced every one while also scoring the top marks for child-seat anchors and its “superior” crash-prevention tech. However, its headlights ensured it would not win a safety award. The IIHS deemed CH-R’s halogen projectors inadequate, mostly due to excessive glare.