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 Palisade Photo 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 Rogue Photo 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-Design Photo 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 Insight Photo 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 Hybrid Photo 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 Nexo Photo 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 G90 Photo 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 S60 Photo 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 3 Photo 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 Forester Photo 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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