IIHS: Pickup trucks score poorly in headlight tests

Posted at 2:31 AM, Oct 25, 2016

Pickup truck headlights performed poorly in new tests by the insurance industry.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests measured how far light carries from the trucks' high beams and low beams, both on straight roads and curves. They also measured the amount of glare that could affect oncoming drivers. The results were released Tuesday.

Seven of the 11 small and full-size pickups tested earned the lowest score of "poor." If the trucks offered multiple headlight combinations, the institute's ratings were based on the best available headlight system. All of the pickups tested were from the 2016 or 2017 model years.

Excessive glare was a problem on nearly every model, the institute said.

Only one large pickup, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline, earned the highest rating for the headlights on its most-expensive models. The Ridgeline's headlights provided good visibility on most roads. It also offered high-beam assist, which automatically switches off high beams if another vehicle is approaching.

Among full-size pickups, the GMC Sierra earned the second-highest rating of "acceptable," while the Nissan Titan and Ram 1500 earned "marginal" ratings.

The Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and Toyota Tundra full-size pickups also earned "poor" ratings. Both the low-beams and the high-beams on the F-150 — the best-selling full-size pickup in the U.S. — provided inadequate visibility, even with optional LED lights added, the institute said.

All four small pickups tested — the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma — earned "poor" ratings.

The Arlington, Virginia-based Insurance Institute began rating headlights earlier this year after finding that U.S. government standards allowed a great deal of variation in the amount of illumination headlights must provide. The institute gave "poor" ratings to many cars and small SUVs in previous tests.

The tests will likely cause some manufacturers to change their headlights. IIHS said it won't award its coveted "Top Safety Pick-Plus" ranking next year to any vehicle that doesn't have "good" or "acceptable" lighting.