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2017 Honda Ridgeline sports highest rated headlights in pickup class

If you drive a pickup truck like I do, you’re most likely squinting, and straining your eyes a bit at night, in an effort to see clearly. Honda has an answer.

The majority of pickup trucks large and small scored “poor” in the latest round of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) headlight testing and subsequent rating -- with only 2017 Honda Ridgeline’s top 2 trim levels earning a “good” rating. Frankly, in this day and age of high tech driven passive and active safety development , I don’t get it!

Reality check: For many manufacturers, Ford, GM, Dodge Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan and others the issue at hand is one of price-point and manufactured component cost savings. And frankly, one has to venture into the top trim realm of the Ridgeline RTL-E and “Black Edition,” to experience the highest rated headlight technology in the pickup truck segment. Read my latest Ridgeline drive review here.2017_Honda_Ridgeline

On a personal note, I’m willing to pay a bit more at the time of purchase for exceptional night lighting. It’s a safety-driving fatigue issue, with very few to no aftermarket remedy.

11 pickups, 23 lighting combinations, one “good” rating

Personally, I find the test results to be appalling, and in some applications dangerous. As a truck driver that lives in a country-side environment, I’m always on the lookout for roadside animals, a car backing off of a dirt encroachment, ground fog, rain downpours, sleet and snow -- I require optimal, night piercing headlamps with a long and broad field of vision.

Here’s what IIHS has to say

*The 11 trucks evaluated have a total of 23 possible headlight combinations. Fourteen of them have excessive glare, contributing to their poor ratings. A vehicle cannot earn a rating better than marginal if it produces too much glare in any of the five test scenarios.

A bright spot in the ratings is the headlight system on the Ridgeline's RTL-E and Black Edition trims. The LED projector low beams provide fair to good visibility on most approaches, with inadequate visibility only on the gradual left curve. High-beam assist, a feature that automatically switches on high beams if no other vehicles are present, makes up for some of the deficiencies of the low beams.

The GMC Sierra has acceptable-rated headlights available on certain trims. Other versions earn a marginal or poor rating.

IIHS News 2016

The two kinds of headlights available on the Nissan Titan both earn a marginal rating. The Ram 1500 has marginal headlights on certain trim levels, while others have poor ones.

The Ford F-150, the centerpiece of the best-selling F-Series line, is among the poorest performers. Both the base halogen and the optional LED low beams provide inadequate visibility in all test scenarios, including both sides of the straightaway, on sharp curves in both directions and on gradual curves in both directions. The LED lights also produce unacceptable glare. The high beams on both versions have mostly inadequate visibility too.

The headlights with the worst visibility are on the Chevrolet Colorado. The halogen reflector low beams on the pickup's base trim illuminate to only 123 feet on the right side of the straightaway. In contrast, the Ridgeline LED low beams illuminate to 358 feet.

All the pickups except for the Ridgeline come in both extended cab and crew cab versions, and they share the same headlights. The Ridgeline comes only as a crew cab.

IIHS is incorporating headlights into the criteria for its highest award, TOP SAFETY PICK+. To qualify for the 2017 award, vehicles will need good or acceptable headlights.