- Photo courtesy of IIHS. 

Photo courtesy of IIHS. 

Only six out of 156 2020 vehicle models that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has rated so far come equipped with good-rated headlights, indicating a continued need to push automakers to make headlight safety a priority.

The six vehicles equipped with good-rated headlights are the Genesis G70, Honda Insight, Hyundai Nexo, Lexus NX, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid and Tesla Model 3. 

On another 31 2020 models evaluated by IIHS engineers, acceptable headlights are the lowest-rated ones that are offered. Together, that translates into progress — a 7% increase over the number of 2019 models available exclusively with good or acceptable headlights.

The additional 31 models (2020 models) that are sold with nothing less than acceptable-rated headlights are as follows: Mazda 6; Subaru Legacy; Subaru Outback (Built after October 2019); Toyota Camry; Nissan Maxima; Mazda 3 hatchback; Mazda 3 sedan; Toyota Prius; Toyota Prius Prime; Chevrolet Bolt; Lexus ES350; Mercedes-Benz C-Class; Lexus IS; Acura TLX; Audi A6; Genesis G80; Mercedes-Benz E-Class; Acura RLX; Subaru Forester; Mazda CX-3; Mazda CX-5; BMW X2; Honda Pilot; Honda Passport; Ford Explorer; Acura RDX; Cadillac XT6; Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class; Volvo XC90; Acura MDX; Toyota Sienna.

The IIHS acknowledges that in 2020 many more vehicles are available with headlights that illuminate an acceptable distance ahead without blinding oncoming motorists as compared with previous years. Still, very few base models come outfitted with good headlights.

Because approximately 50% of all fatal crashes in the U.S. occur in the dark, and more than 25% occur on unlit roads, headlights are a critical and basic safety feature.

However, manufacturers continue to sell many models with low quality headlight systems. For example, 30 of the 2020 models tested by IIHS can only be purchased with poor headlights. That number represents a modest decrease when compared with the 36 models that could only be purchased with poor headlights in 2019.

IIHS points out that manufacturers have continued their more rapid progress in offering good headlights as an optional feature. When IIHS began rating headlights in 2016, the best-available headlights on only two of the 95 models IIHS tested earned a good rating. In 2020, good-rated headlights are available on 55 out of 156 models evaluated.

The takeaway from the latest IIHS data indicates that automakers are making progress but the safest, best quality headlights are still lacking as standard equipment on most base models.

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