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The IIHS tested 4 different headlight variations on the X1. The highest rating the X1 received was 'Moderate' with the halogen equipped X1 scoring a 'Poor'.

Among the 21 small SUVs tested there are 47 different headlight combinations available. More than two-thirds of them are rated poor, making this group of vehicles even more deficient when it comes to lighting than the midsize cars (see the F30 3 Series rating) that were the first to be rated earlier this year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEVLw3aqL6Q

Headlight performance in today's vehicles varies widely. Government standards are based on laboratory tests, which don't accurately gauge performance in real-world driving. The issue merits attention because about half of traffic deaths occur either in the dark or around dawn or dusk.

As with midsize cars, the IIHS evaluations of small SUVs showed that a vehicle's price tag doesn't correspond to the quality of headlights. More modern lighting types, including high-intensity discharge (HID) and LED lamps, and curve-adaptive systems, which swivel in the direction of steering, also are no guarantee of good performance.

"Manufacturers aren't paying enough attention to the actual on-road performance of this basic equipment," says IIHS Senior Research Engineer Matthew Brumbelow. "We're optimistic that improvements will come quickly now that we've given automakers something to strive for."

IIHS test shows BMW F30 headlights are the worst in the world

For 2017, vehicles will need good or acceptable headlights in order to qualify for the Institute's highest award, TOP SAFETY PICK+.

IIHS small suv headlight test

BMW X1 IIHS headlight rating when equipped with Premium and Driver Assistance Plus packages

BMW X1 IIHS headlight rating

BMW X1 IIHS headlight rating when equipped with Premium package

BMW X1 IIHS headlight rating

BMW X1 IIHS headlight rating when equipped with Driver Assistance Plus package

BMW X1 IIHS headlight rating

BMW X1 IIHS headlight rating without any lighting packages (base halogen)

BMW X1 IIHS headlight rating

Source IIHS.org
 

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That's insane, they are brightest, clearest lights I have ever driven behind other than the weird purple tint, they throw farther than anything I have had in the past.
 

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Part of the issue is that many, many vehicles have much less than ideal headlights, so comparing one to another doesn't say what it could or should be! Lots of things affect how well they work: color temperature, glare, evenness, width, throw.
 

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An important thing to note is that IIHS states that they do not aim the vehicle's headlights. They test the cars the way they come from the factory/dealer. IIHS says they don't aim the headlights because very few customers get their lights aimed. Thus, IIHS says they are testing what consumers will actually experience and see. There is some sense in this approach, however I feel they should run two tests on each car. First test would be done they way the car comes from the factory. The second test would be after they have insured the aim of the test car's headlights is set correctly. These two test situations would pinpoint whether the problem is with a car's headlilght design or with the aiming specifications at the final assembly point.

I've read in several places that BMW almost always sends their cars out from the factory with their headlights aimed low. If this is true, I can't think of a reason why they do it.

My current car is a 2008 528i that came with halogen headlights. When I got the car I thought the headlights were mediocre at best. After a lot of research I found that my car had projector low beam lights and an aftermarket HID conversion kit could be fitted to improve the low beam lighting. I installed a quality HID kit from The Retrofit Source and found the new HID lights made a decent, but not fantastic improvement.

In search of more light, further reading led me to online sources explaining the importance of headlight aim and how to do it on your own if you didn't have an aiming machine or didn't want to pay to have them aimed by a shop. After following a DIY procedure from Daniel Stern lighting I finally achieved headlight nirvana. It turns out my 528i's headlights were aimed fairly low. Correctly aiming my car's headlights made an equal if not greater additional improvement than putting in the HID kit. Proper headlight aim is critical.
 

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I know the 3-series headlights are hated by all, but I never have any trouble seeing. I do wish they lit up the sides better so I could see who's crossing the street before I make a right turn. I recently drove a Chevy Equinox and a 2016 Altima and the headlights on both those vehicles were noticeably weaker than the F30 halogens.
 

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An important thing to note is that IIHS states that they do not aim the vehicle's headlights. They test the cars the way they come from the factory/dealer. IIHS says they don't aim the headlights because very few customers get their lights aimed. Thus, IIHS says they are testing what consumers will actually experience and see. There is some sense in this approach, however I feel they should run two tests on each car. First test would be done they way the car comes from the factory. The second test would be after they have insured the aim of the test car's headlights is set correctly. These two test situations would pinpoint whether the problem is with a car's headlilght design or with the aiming specifications at the final assembly point.

I've read in several places that BMW almost always sends their cars out from the factory with their headlights aimed low. If this is true, I can't think of a reason why they do it.

My current car is a 2008 528i that came with halogen headlights. When I got the car I thought the headlights were mediocre at best. After a lot of research I found that my car had projector low beam lights and an aftermarket HID conversion kit could be fitted to improve the low beam lighting. I installed a quality HID kit from The Retrofit Source and found the new HID lights made a decent, but not fantastic improvement.

In search of more light, further reading led me to online sources explaining the importance of headlight aim and how to do it on your own if you didn't have an aiming machine or didn't want to pay to have them aimed by a shop. After following a DIY procedure from Daniel Stern lighting I finally achieved headlight nirvana. It turns out my 528i's headlights were aimed fairly low. Correctly aiming my car's headlights made an equal if not greater additional improvement than putting in the HID kit. Proper headlight aim is critical.
Excellent post, acefuture! Many BMW cars and SAVs have headlights that are aimed improperly at the factory, almost always too low. I don't understand why BMW still hasn't addressed this issue.

My F30 320i was one such BMW; low beam illumination distance was inadequate prior to adjusting vertical aim. For this reason, on the F30 section of Bimmerfest forums I've advocated adjusting vertical aim before spending any money on lighting "upgrades".

I agree with you that IIHS should test headlamp performance before and after they are adjusted for proper vertical aim, for exactly the reason you cited: consumers will be able to better determine to what extent poor headlight performance can be improved with simple adjustments to aiming.
 

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There is good reason for low performance of the LED headlights. The LED headlights on the X1 are only a single bi-beam headlight. All other bmw's with LED headlights are dual beam; plus availability of adaptive technology. The X1 only offers cornering lights that function in urban driving. The prior X1 did offer adaptive dual beam Xenon lights. BMW cut a lot of corners in the new X1, the headlights only being one of them.
 
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