Safety First

These 15 vehicles have the best headlights for the 2021 model year according to IIHS

Every Rogue comes loaded with safety technology including some of the best headlights in the business.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has announced its results from the latest round of testing. Fifteen vehicles came out on top earning the highest headlight score across all trim levels.

How does IIHS test? According to their website:

IIHS engineers measure the reach of a vehicle's headlights as the vehicle travels straight and on curves. Sensors on the track measure how far from the vehicle the light extends with an intensity of at least 5 lux. A lux is a unit of illuminance, or the amount of light falling on a surface. For comparison, a full moon on a cloudless night illuminates the ground below to about 1 lux.

Both low beams and high beams are measured on five approaches, shown in the graphic below:
- Straightaway
- Gradual left curve (800-foot radius)
- Gradual right curve (800-foot radius)
- Sharp left curve (500-foot radius)
- Sharp right curve (500-foot radius)

On each approach, visibility measurements are taken on the right edge of the roadway. On the curves, measurements also are taken on the left edge of the travel lane. On the straightaway, the second measurement is taken at a point corresponding to the left edge of a two-lane road. This allows the engineers to gauge the illumination on both the right and left side of a straightaway, which are typically quite different. With most headlights, there is a steep drop-off in light on the left side of a straight road in order to prevent glare to oncoming vehicles.

Glare for oncoming vehicles is also measured from low beams in each scenario. Engineers record the percentage by which it exceeds a set threshold.

Headlights are tested as received from the dealer. Although many headlight problems could be resolved by adjusting the aim of the lamps, IIHS doesn't change headlight aim. Few vehicle owners adjust the vertical aim of their headlights, so leaving the aim the way it was set at the factory makes the testing more realistic. Horizontal aim also is important, but in most vehicles it can't be changed after the initial factory setting.

Readings are taken 10 inches from the ground for visibility and 3 feet, 7 inches from the ground for glare.

IIHS testers use a system of demerits to rate the headlights. Low beams are weighted more heavily than high beams. Straightaway readings are weighted more heavily than curved ratings because crashes happen most often on straight roads. Vehicles equipped with high-beam assist get their low beam demerits reduced.

All the vehicles on this list earned a perfect "Good" score in IIHS headlight testing across all trim levels.

Click here to see the five models that had the best headlight scores for 2020.

2021 Genesis G70

2021 Genesis G70

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

The new face of the Genesis G70 adds two distinctive linear LED daytime running lights on each side of the crest grille while LED combination lamps are widely situated at the rear.

2021 Lexus NX

2020 Lexus NX

Photo courtesy of Lexus

Each Lexus NX comes standard with Bi-LED headlamps, LED taillamps, and daytime running lights. NX 300 F Sport models are available with Premium Triple-Beam LED headlights. The SUV starts at $37,610.

2021 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai PalisadePhoto courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai has repackaged the Palisade for the 2021 model year, giving buyers more of what they're looking for at all price points. LED headlamps are now standard on all models. The 2021 Palisade starts at $32,675 and tops out near $50,000.

2021 Subaru Ascent

2021 Subaru Ascent


Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

New for 2021 model year, the Subaru Ascent gains steering-responsive LED high and low beam headlights in all trim levels. The three-row SUV starts at $32,295.

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan RoguePhoto courtesy of Nissan North America

LED headlights with automatic on/off functionality are standard on the 2021 Nissan Rogue, as are LED daytime running lights. High beam assist technology is also standard. The Rogue is priced to start at $25,750.

2021 BMW 5 Series

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

The redesigned BMW 5 Series features slim profile LED headlights that features two L-shaped daytime running lighting elements on each side. The starting price of the BMW 5 Series is $54,200.

2021 Acura TLX

2021 Acura TLX

Photo courtesy of Acura

The freshly designed Acura TLX features Jewel Eye LED headlights with four LED elements and bright-white "Chicane" LED daytime running lights that are inspired by the championship-winning Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype race car. The car starts at $37,500.

2021 Volvo XC40

2021 Volvo XC40 R-DesignPhoto courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo XC40 starts at $33,700. It has steering-responsive LED headlights in all trim levels.

2021 Honda Insight

2021 Honda InsightPhoto courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

For the 2021 model year, all Honda Insights come standard with multi-element LED headlights. The car, which gets 55 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway, starts just under $23,000.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

2021 Subaru Crosstrek HybridPhoto courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid comes standard with LED daytime running lights and fog lights, and LED steering-responsive headlights. High beam assist is available. The Crosstrek Hybrid starts at $35,345.

2021 Hyundai Nexo

2020 Hyundai NexoPhoto courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Nexo is one of just two mass market hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles sold in the U.S. The other is the Toyota Mirai. The SUV comes standard with LED headlights and daytime running lights, approach lights, LED taillights, and high beam assist technology.

2021 Genesis G90

2020 Genesis G90Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

The Genesis G90 has the company's signature Quad Lamps at the front and back. The luxury large car starts at $72,950.

2021 Volvo S60/V60

2019 Volvo S60Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo S60 and V60 come standard with LED steering-responsive headlights. The car starts just below $39,000 and its V60 wagon version starts around $41,600.

2021 Tesla Model 3

2021 Tesla Model 3Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

Tesla launched a new headlight design in late 2020 for the Model 3. It now features LEDs that provide a more powerful and defined beam in a square-ish pattern. It starts at $33,690.

2021 Subaru Forester

2020 Subaru ForesterPhoto courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The 2021 Subaru Forester comes standard with LED steering-responsive headlights. It starts at $24,795 for the base model and tops out just shy of $36,000.

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The CX-50 is surpsingly capable off-road.

Mazda

I have driven all of the Mazda vehicles that have been sold in the US market over the past three decades. On everyday roads and on racetracks. I’ve appreciated their “zoom-zoom”. Good power. Punchy torque just where it was needed. Well-balanced and sporty handling. A bit of growl for the versions that called for it. Plus, tasteful-but-modest styling and more or less elbow room, depending on the model. Mazda’s have been made for sports-car enthusiasts and to ferry families. But, I had never known a Mazda called an “overlander”. Until now.

2023 Mazda CX-50Towing capacity extends to 2,000 pounds.Mazda

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 moves this traction-sophisticated automaker into the lands where the pavement ends and now takes the brand ‘off-track’. Although it’s not a new thing for many of today’s carmakers to add a backcountry model or two to their lineup, it’s new for Mazda. I traveled to Santa Barbara, California to check out this all-new crossover built on Mazda’s seventh-generation small SUV platform that is shared with the smaller CX-30. This 5-passenger utility is longer, lower and wider than the CX-5 that rides on the previous generation’s underpinnings. The CX-50 has been crafted with a roomier second row and more cargo room for the goods and gear that weekend warriors and adventurers want to carry.

The CX-50 comes with a choice of two engines: a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation that gets 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-charged powerplant with 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque; both shift through a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport ute can tow up to 2,000 lbs. with the naturally aspirated motor and up to 3,500 lbs. with the turbo-charged mill and Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) that brings a tow mode as well as Normal, Sport and Off-Road. The newest Mazda model has been made for North America only and is built in Alabama. It is the first Mazda vehicle with auto start/stop that can be deactivated.

2023 Mazda CX-50Mazda is a master of upscale interiors. Mazda

The new crossover starts at $26,800 and comes in S, S Select, S Preferred, S Preferred Plus, S Premium, and S Premium Plus with the base motor. Turb-charged versions come in Turbo, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus that tops out at close to $42,000. A long list of technology and safety features are standard or available. Mazda says that Meridian, a fourth turbo trim will arrive soon with even more off-road cred; it will be set up with 18-inch black wheels AT, hood graphics and other backcountry goodies.

When you look at the CX-50, the first thing you’ll notice is exterior styling that speaks to its adventure-ready mission. Muscular bodywork, such as extra cladding, wide fender flairs and larger, more aggressive tires mean that this crossover has been designed not only to give a nod to the looks of a rugged crossover but to provide enhanced traction and a tad more suspension stretch for motoring over uneven terrain and along bumpy dirt roads. Planted on its haunches with functional air vents, it eschews minivan styling with a low and wide footprint that allows owners to have easy access to high-strength roof rails for loading gear on top; the roof has been made stronger than other Mazda crossovers to accommodate heavier loads, such as a roof-top tent. A panoramic moonroof- a first for Mazda- and attractive antiglare hood graphics and are tasteful additions.

The interior is attractive and roomy, with horizontal lines and “cleanable” surfaces as a nod to outdoor endeavors. Our Turbo Premium Plus model had bright orange reverse stitching that popped the cabin that has been crafted with uplevel trims and materials and brought heads-up display. A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard, while the top models get a 10.25-inch version. A wireless charging pad and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims. Of note, is the rear power and programmable liftgate to the wide and deep rear cargo compartment, with a load floor that flush with the liftgate opening to help slide heavy items in and out of the back. An available line of cargo accessories makes stowage easier.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 is family roadtrip ready.Mazda

How did it handle over the 200-plus miles of our ride and drive? The Turbo Premium Plus CX-50 offers a lot like; many of its driving attributes are consistent with Mazda’s tuning and handling priorities across its product line. Traveling along coastal highways, carving mountainous twisties with tight turns and accelerating on flat and straight well-graded pavement, it has great Mazda manners: i.e., there is enough power and torque in the right bandwidth to move it well; precise steering with a slightly heavily-weighted leather-wrapped steering wheel and well-modulated brakes, especially with towing a 3,500-lb. load. We enjoyed using Sport mode for carving corners, as it brings elongated shifts from the six-speed automatic; a crisp response comes when sport shifting in “manual mode” and provides a quick throttle response.

We tried out the Off-Road mode on a course that included flat and uneven dirt roads, as well as hill climb and descent. Although there is no downhill descent control system, the brakes worked well, along with manual gearing. Of note, Mazda would be wide to add downhill descent engineering for steeper and slicker terrain. We were able to test the difference between Normal and Off-Road over a special section of the course with sandy corners and a winding track at a speed of 30 mph showing the improved traction in the Off-Road programming and the aid of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that brings a bit of magic to transfer torque to the wheels where it is needed to keep the intended track-think of it like an enhanced traction control program that helps with steering and yaw control.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 comes with off-road driving modes. Mazda

Other aids for off-road and backcountry travel are: the i-Activ All-Wheel Drive system that is standard equipment on all CX-50s, with a 50/50ish power transfer front to back; 8.6 inches of ground clearance; an 18-degree approach angle and a 24-degree departure angle; and an optional 360-degree camera system.

*EPA reports: base motor fuel economy 24 city/30 highway mpg, while the turbo option gets 23/29 mpg and can run on regular or premium fuel.

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New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

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