The independent, insurance industry-sponsored institute that evaluates new cars for their crashworthiness has less-than-positive things to say about the headlights in more than 20 small SUVs and crossovers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that not a single vehicle it tested earned top marks and that only four received the group's "acceptable" rating, essentially three out of four stars. In its newest test, the IIHS says it measures "the amount of usable light provided by low beams and high beams as vehicles travel on straightaways and curves" on its central Virginia test track after dark.

CHECK OUT: IIHS says most cars need better headlights

What's perhaps most surprising is that the IIHS didn't find any real-world benefit to most higher tech light setups, including HID and LED headlamps.
The IIHS praised the Mazda CX-3 for its optional curve-adaptive LEDs with automatic high beams, but even that model—its top performer—was let down by mediocre light output on gradual left curves. At the opposite end of the spectrum was the Honda HR-V, which IIHS says provided inadequate light output on sharp and gradual curves as well as on straightaways. 

Here's a look at how the small SUVs and crossovers stacked up. The highest grade of the four awarded by IIHS would have been "good," but no vehicle qualified for it. All models listed, except where noted, are 2016s. 


  • 2017 Ford Escape
  • Honda CR-V
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Mazda CX-3


  • BMW X1
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Volkswagen Tiguan
  • Audi Q3
  • Buick Encore
  • Chevrolet Trax
  • Fiat 500X
  • Honda HR-V
  • Jeep Patriot
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • 2017 Kia Sportage
  • Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Subaru Forester


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