2014 Acura MDX: Desert Headlight Test
March 12, 2014
My recent two-day trip to the Mojave Desert included a nighttime stargazing component away from the nearest town. Much has been said about the "Jewel Eye" LED headlights that adorn the front of our 2014 Acura MDX, but in-town conditions, especially here in L.A., don't tell the whole story. There are simply too many competing light sources.
But it's easy to get away from all manmade light in the desert. And good headlights are a must on dirt roads if you want to avoid driving into a tire-damaging pothole or washout, especially if you are carrying any speed. Our departed 2012 Jeep Wrangler, to cite a recent example, needed a headlight upgrade because its factory lanterns were so ironically pathetic off-road or in town.
After we'd finished checking out the stars I hung back while the other cars in our convoy went on ahead to our campsite at the Spring Hill Suites.
The three outboard bulbs are the low beams and the remaining two inboard ones are the high beams. You can see the difference in the shape of the corresponding reflection each one projects onto the outer lens cover that envelops them all.
On their own, the low beams were pretty impressive. They illuminated the path ahead quite clearly and threw off plenty of light to either side. And the cutoff turned out to be more organic and diffuse out here than we expected after Travis shined them against a wall back home. That's a good thing because it means there was no distracting sharp edge bouncing up and down as we jostled along on the uneven washboard roads.
Back on the pavement we could see equally well. And we were never once got "brighted" by oncoming cars on the long drive home.
An utter lack of tall trees or reflective signs in this shot makes it hard to fully appreciate the high beams, partly because the low beams do such a good job on their own. But the additional lamps do punch ahead a substantial distance down the road, nicely filling in the middle region to extend overall reach.
Are these "Jewel Eye" LEDs the best headlights we've driven behind? No, but they're impressive nonetheless. They're well suited to any dark desert highway you may encounter.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 7,025 miles