ARLINGTON, Virginia — The 2016 Toyota Prius V wagon is the only midsize car out of 31 tested to earn a "good" rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's first-ever headlight ratings, underscoring a major shortcoming among many vehicles currently on the road.
"The Prius V's LED low beams should give a driver traveling straight at 70 mph enough time to identify an obstacle on the right side of the road, where the light is best, and brake to a stop," said Matthew Brumbelow, an Institute senior research engineer, in a statement.
The 2016 Honda Accord sedan earned an "acceptable" rating and was praised for having "one of the best headlight systems."
"The basic halogen lights on the Honda Accord four-door earn an acceptable rating, while an LED system with high-beam assist available on the Accord earns only a 'marginal,'" the Institute said.
Car shoppers are expected to benefit from this new rating system. The Institute said headlights are tested as received from the dealer and are evaluated on an Institute track after dark.
"The best available headlights on 11 cars earn an 'acceptable' rating, while nine only reach a 'marginal' rating," the Institute said in a statement on Wednesday. "Ten of the vehicles can't be purchased with anything other than poor-rated headlights.
It added: "A vehicle's price tag is no guarantee of decent headlights. Many of the poor-rated headlights belong to luxury vehicles."
The halogen lights on the BMW 3 Series sedan "are the worst," the Institute said.
"A driver with those headlights would have to be going 35 mph or slower to stop in time for an obstacle in the travel lane," it said.
High-tech lighting systems, including ones that bend in the direction of a curve, aren't a guarantee of good ratings.
Other vehicles to earn an "acceptable" headlight rating include the Audi A3, Infiniti Q50, Lexus ES 350, Lexus IS, Mazda 6, Nissan Maxima, Subaru Outback (built after November 2015), Volkswagen CC, Volkswagen Jetta and Volvo S60.
Edmunds says: This new headlight rating system provides critical information for car shoppers to consider before heading out to showrooms.