Most new pickup trucks feature poor headlights, IIHS says

October 24, 2016

The road ahead may not be very clear if you're driving a new pickup truck—even if you've optioned one up to mega truck status with fancy extra cost headlights.

In its latest test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that nearly every new pickup truck available today features headlamps that deliver poor light coverage. Only one, the Honda Ridgeline with the available LED lights (including only on the RTL-E and Black Edition trim levels) received the top "Good" rating.

That doesn't mean that the just any Ridgeline has great lighting, says the IIHS; models other than the two top-of-the-line trim levels only offer conventional halogen projector lights, which the IIHS rates as "Poor," its lowest of four available grades.

Additionally, only two other trucks it tested have models that rate better than "Poor"—the Nissan Titan ("Marginal") and the GMC Sierra ("Acceptable" and "Marginal" for some models). 

Notably, the best-selling vehicle in the United States, the Ford F-150, is rated as "Poor" for all trim levels. 

2017 Chevrolet Silverado

2017 Chevrolet Silverado

The test

To measure headlight performance, the IIHS looks both at how much light they on both high and low beam settings in corners and on straightaways. The agency also looks at how much glare the lights produce to ensure that they aren't dazzling oncoming traffic. 

The IIHS says it looked at every headlight configuration offered for the 2017 model year, a total of 23 different combinations available on 11 trucks. Most trucks come standard with relatively simple halogen projector or reflector lights and offer LED lights as an option, but paying extra for those lights isn't necessarily improving visibility, says the IIHS. The F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado, for instance, offer LEDs that the IIHS rates "Poor." 

The IIHS is now including headlight performance when considering a vehicle for its Top Safety Pick+ award; not only does a vehicle need to have performed well in its barrage of crash tests, it must offer a highly-rated automatic emergency braking system and it must feature headlamps rated either "Good" or "Acceptable." 

Additionally, the IIHS adds extra points for automatic high beams. 

Here's a look at how the 2017 model year pickup trucks performed:

  • Honda Ridgeline: Good (only with optional LED headlights)
  • GMC Sierra: Acceptable (only with optional LED headlights and automatic high beams)
  • Nissan Titan: Marginal
  • GMC Sierra: Marginal (only with optional LED headlights and without automatic high beams)
  • Ram 1500: Marginal (only with base halogen reflector headlights)
  • Chevrolet Colorado: Poor
  • Chevrolet Silverado: Poor
  • Ford F-150: Poor
  • GMC Canyon: Poor
  • Honda Ridgeline: Poor (except with optional LED headlights)
  • Nissan Frontier: Poor
  • Toyota Tacoma: Poor
  • Toyota Tundra: Poor
The Car Connection
See the winners »
The Car Connection

People who read this also read

Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from The Car Connection. I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.