Mind you, both of these cars were fitted with optional lighting equipment. The CTS used xenon in an adaptive projector, which turns the light into corners to keep light pointed where it’s needed – though the performance is just as impressive going straight down a highway. The A7’s LED headlamps are a pricey option, capitalizing on the latest in low-energy, high-performance headlight technology. Note that both of these rides also came with a headlight washer system to clear their lenses in lousy weather, maintaining unobstructed output. You’ll appreciate that in a snowstorm.

2013 Honda Accord
Click image to enlarge

Of course, you needn’t be in a high-dollar ride, or even one with xenon lights, for good headlight performance. Browsing my recent test-drive notes, I can recommend the new Dodge Avenger, the Lexus CT 200h, new Honda Accord and Mitsubishi RVR as models with better-than-average headlight output. Conversely, I had logged complaints in my reviews about the headlights in the new Ford F-150, Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Accent.

So, how do you test-drive the headlight performance of a new ride you’re considering if the dealership closes before dark? You might not be able to – though a check on Google, or in the online owners club of the model in question, it might shed some light [ha ha –Ed.] on the situation. Or, find someone you know with the model you’re interested in, and ask them to take you for a nighttime ride.

If you’re concerned, barter with your sales rep to have a set of premium bulbs installed ahead of your purchase. Most affordable car lighting systems are, after all, built to a price-point and use the cheapest bulbs possible.

And, if you have a beat-up old Accord like my mom? There are still options. If the headlight housings are faded, pitted, cloudy or yellow, replace them, too – or have them polished or buffed with any number of the products available to clear old plastic lenses. Then, replace the bulbs, as these dim over time. Maybe I’ll get mom a set.

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