January 28, 2013
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Article by Justin Pritchard
“Can I just take your Jeep? It’s blocking my car. I’ll be back in twenty minutes.”
I was visiting my mom, and she needed to make a run to the store. It was dark out, and my Jeep Grand Cherokee tester was parked behind her car.
“Sure, see you soon” I replied.
Mom hates driving at night. She avoids it at all costs, and when she has to venture out regardless, she talks at length about how horrible it was after the fact. Accordingly, I was nervous when she hadn’t returned an hour later.
When she finally did, she had a grin on her face.
“I went for a drive!” she proclaimed, holding her bag of late-night shopping.
“I could actually see! I haven’t enjoyed driving at night for years!”
The new Grand Cherokee that she was driving had a set of xenon headlamps, a far improvement from the yellowed, hazy halogen lights she’s used to on her 2000 Honda Accord.
“It was amazing, can you put lights like that in my car?”
Maybe so, maybe no. But this all got me thinking about the wide range of performance you’ll find in factory lighting systems on new cars today – and how most folks on a test-drive won’t get to see what they’re like. After all, most dealerships close before dark.
I’ve driven over 500 new cars, all of them at night, and most at night on a winding, empty highway across parts of Northern Ontario. Not all lighting systems are created the same – and when I see a good one, it sticks with me.
The new Grand Cherokee with the optional xenon lights was one of those good ones. Xenon lights are fantastic. A good, quality set will flood the road ahead with illumination, saturating your forward vision with crisp and clean white light that’s easier on the eyes than halogen. With a good set of xenon lights, most drivers will notice their eyes ‘lasting’ longer into a late-night drive before becoming fatigued, too. That’s because they have to do less work to see properly.
The best headlights I’ve ever used? It’s a tie between the Cadillac CTS’s xenon headlamps, or the LED-fired headlights in the Audi A7. Both of these systems drenched the road ahead with white light that reached past the tree-line to the sides of a two-lane highway. Both of them left my eyes alert and fresh, even after 4 or 5 hours of nighttime driving.