Distracting Adaptive Headlights - 2014 Kia Cadenza Limited Long-Term Road Test

2014 Kia Cadenza Limited Long-Term Road Test

2014 Kia Cadenza: Distracting Adaptive Headlights

May 19, 2014

2014 Kia Cadenza

One of the standard features in our 2014 Kia Cadenza Limited is the Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFLS).  If you're not familiar with adaptive headlights, you're not alone. Adaptive lights are primarily found in luxury cars, and although they've been on the market for a bit over 10 years, they are still new to many people, like me for example.

According to the Kia Web site, AFLS on the Cadenza "helps improve cornering visibility by moving the headlight beam into upcoming turns."

Driving the Cadenza after dark on my normal canyon drive home, the light beams were projecting front and center, and occasionally to the left, then to the right, performing as intended.

But the headlights were distracting me, adding little to my drive. Perhaps they will grow on me if I spend more time with them, but for now, I think I prefer fixed headlights.  While driving with quick twists and turns, the lights moved in ways I wasn't accustomed to, and more than once I caught myself paying attention to them instead of the drive.

Am I living in the past by preferring standard headlights, or do adaptive headlights simply take getting used to?

Matt Jones, Senior Editor


  • banhugh banhugh Posts:


  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    banhugh is right - it's both - they can be distracting at first, and you are living in the past if you don't realize they do a better job of pointing where the car is going than regular headlights. If you have bad ADHD, you might keep being distracted by them, but for most people, after a couple of days, they're second nature.

  • mieden mieden Posts:

    My ex actually had difficulty driving when she would use my (older) cars at night, she had become so accustomed to the adaptive lights on her M35. Theres a stat somewhere that sais AFL and rear parking cameras are the most welcome new technologies on cars over the past decade.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    First world problem largely caused by the US DoT. A properly designed headlight system properly aimed does not need to be adaptive. It will have sufficient range and spread without waving lights around. This is best done with a four headlamp system, two for low beam with all four active on high beam. Trouble is the DoT get huffy about maximum lumens per acre or some such when it comes to 4-light headlamp systems.

  • s197gt s197gt Posts:

    we have non-adaptive HID headlights in our CX-9 and adaptive HID headlights in our e90. much prefer the adaptive. there is also an automatic vertical adjustment, at least in bmw's (and the CX-9 has a manual vertical adjustment). from bmw's site: "Headlight beam throw control (a model-specific function) means the front headlights are raised at high speeds and lowered at slower speeds, which results in a wider beam for inner-city driving. The adaptive headlight range control (a model-specific function) takes into consideration the vertical curve of the road. The headlight beam throw control is lowered when driving over a knoll and raised when the vehicle is in a dip."

  • What I miss is a throwback from the past, dedicated cornering lights. The high beams are sufficient for driving on a two lane curvy road, I don't really need adaptive lights. But I miss cornering lights for turning down narrow dark narrow streets and driveways. My Mom had a Buick Park Avenue that had great cornering lights. Maybe I miss them because that is the car I learned to drive in and got very used to having them. My uncle had a Saab that had cornering lights that came on when shifted into reverse, great idea. The old C4 Corvette had front and rear cornering lights. The rears were for when in reverse. Wonder why they got rid of these? Seems like they could now combine front and rear side marker lights with cornering lights by using LEDs. Front side marker lights could turn off and switch to cornering lights when turn signal activated. And the front and rear could switch to cornering lights when shifted to reverse. 360 illumination for backing up.

  • gloss gloss Posts:

    I quite like the auto-leveling adaptive headlights on our CX-5. It does take a touch of getting used to, but it undeniably helps visibility when cornering.

  • bimmerjay bimmerjay Posts:

    allthingshonda, most new German cars do have secondary cornering lights. In a sharp bend where the adaptive headlight can no longer reach or when you activate a turn signal, what appears to be a fog light turns on but it's actually a cornering light. Also, both sides often turn on in reverse as well as external lights under the mirrors and/or door handles to aid the parking cameras and provide the 360 degree lighting you speak of.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @agentorange: I don't quite agree that a properly designed headlamp doesn't need adaptive headlights. For example, while European headlamps tend to have a wider, flatter beam with horizontal uptics for good pedestrian detection at the cost of seeing dista

  • bigzzz bigzzz Posts:

    I love my Cadenza and I really like the adaptive headlights. However, the headlights have no horizontal adjustment. Mine are pointed toward the right curb and are annoying. KIA says that since they are adaptive, they are not adjustable. A really stupid and unsafe design.

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