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Headlights Revisited - 2014 Acura MDX AWD Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,125
edited July 2014 in Acura
imageHeadlights Revisited - 2014 Acura MDX AWD Long-Term Road Test

We were plenty impressed by the LED headlights when we drove our 2014 Acura MDX into the desert, but they work even better on tree-lined roads.

Read the full story here


Comments

  • baggs32baggs32 Posts: 3,229

    Here's what I don't get about the whole lighting package on the MDX. One, these new headlights don't look good in my opinion. Functional, yes. Attractive, no. Second, why on earth did Honda take away the standard LED tail lamps (including turn signals) from the previous model and replace them with old fashioned incandescent bulbs? This is supposed to be a high tech luxury vehicle right? Sorry Honda but the LED reverse lights don't cut it either. Did they run out of red LED bulbs or what? LED tail lamps are as much a safety feature as these LED head lamps so why did they remove them on this "new" model?

  • hank39hank39 Tallahassee, FLPosts: 144

    @baggs32 - agreed! I find it interesting that car manufacturers sometimes regress with the equipment they package into new models. I know it's probably due to cost-cutting measures, but with a luxury brand like Acura, while trying to stand out/differentiate, you do not start excluding certain staple items that other manufacturers are equipping with their competition models with. Not including including LED brake lights at minimum is a glaring omission IMO. The tail lights themselves are LED, but the brake and turn signals are conventional bulbs.

  • quadricyclequadricycle Posts: 827

    @baggs32 said:
    LED tail lamps are as much a safety feature as these LED head lamps...

    How so?

    If you say rise time, I'm sure that two marketing people somewhere are going to be exchanging high-fives. While it is true to LEDs illuminate quicker than incandescents, feel free to look up the difference, and then compare it to human reaction time. It is almost irrelevant.

  • actualsizeactualsize Santa Ana, CaliforniaPosts: 451

    I will say that some of the LED taillights, turn signals and DRLs can be annoyingly bright. Some taillights come across as brakelights. I've driven some cars where my own LED front turn signals reflected off road signs way down the road despite the area being awash with the headlights of numerous cars ahead. Having people see you is the intent, but if they're squinting then there's too much stray light. These observations apply to any kind of bulb, but the rise of LEDs seems to have caught some manufacturers off-guard.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • baggs32baggs32 Posts: 3,229
    edited July 2014

    @quadricycle said: While it is true to LEDs illuminate quicker than incandescents, feel free to look up the difference, and then compare it to human reaction time. It is almost irrelevant.

    It all depends on how they are executed but that's one of the reasons for sure. That blast of full bright red light in your face right from the start of braking is easily noticeable especially at night. If you can't tell the difference then I can't help you with your question. You really notice them more when you aren't looking straight ahead too. I'm guessing that the reason for this is that the LED lights are pointing right at you as opposed to incandescents which reflect off of a mirror-like surface most of the time and the light gets scattered.

    I agree with Dan that some of them are way too bright though. One example I always notice is the Subaru Impreza. Those brake lights are so bright you can barely see the amber turn signal they surround when both are on. I've had to shield my eyes from them at times.

    @hank39 said: I know it's probably due to cost-cutting measures, but with a luxury brand like Acura, while trying to stand out/differentiate, you do not start excluding certain staple items that other manufacturers are equipping with their competition models with.

    The worst part of it is that it's not only luxury makes getting the fancy lights anymore. Most mainstream autos are getting them now too. Now that I think about it, is there even one Honda (not including Acura) that has LEDs in the back or HIDs in the front? I'm pretty sure all other makes have some models with one or both. The accord used to have LED brake lights but those mysteriously disappeared too.

  • ryanmgryanmg Posts: 2

    @baggs32 said:
    Now that I think about it, is there even one Honda (not including Acura) that has LEDs in the back or HIDs in the front? I'm pretty sure all other makes have some models with one or both. The accord used to have LED brake lights but those mysteriously disappeared too.

    Actually, the new Accord has optional LED headlights AND taillights/brake lights.

  • baggs32baggs32 Posts: 3,229

    @ryanmg said:
    Actually, the new Accord has optional LED headlights AND taillights/brake lights.

    You are correct. I've yet to see one with those features on the road though. The LED brake lights were standard on the Accord from 2 generations ago, or at least they were on most trims because I still see those a lot.

  • quadricyclequadricycle Posts: 827

    @baggs32 said:
    It all depends on how they are executed but that's one of the reasons for sure. That blast of full bright red light in your face right from the start of braking is easily noticeable especially at night.

    Emphasis mine. Sounds like you're just talking about intensity (brightness). This has nothing to do with rise time. A car manufacturer, or whoever they go to for their lighting safety equipment, can just as easily make bright incandescents or dim LED ones.

    You really notice them more when you aren't looking straight ahead too.

    There's more light off-axis, this is not LED specific either.

    If you can't tell the difference then I can't help you with your question.

    You may have missed my point, my question was a rhetorical one. Let me try again:

    LEDs do rise to full intensity faster than an incandescent light, by as much as 400ms, or 0.4 seconds. Almost half a second! Your marketing brochure will be sure to make a big deal about that. However, the key word is full intensity. They'll be noticeable before that.

    In reality, the difference in measured human reaction time between an LED and incandescent light is about 135ms, or 0.135 seconds (Sivak, Flannagan, Sato, Traube, & Aoki. 1993). Not as big of a deal, huh? If you want to say that every little bit helps, then sure, I agree; but telling me that 0.135 extra seconds of reaction time is going to be a significant boon to safety just isn't true. In automotive safety, there are a multitude of bigger determinants.

    Here are two bigger reasons for why we see vehicles with LED taillights: Sales, and voltage requirements (emissions related).

  • Are the new LED FOGLIGHTS worth buying in a new 15 MDX?

  • @Hugo_Stiglitz said:
    Are the new LED FOGLIGHTS worth buying in a new 15 MDX?

    I wouldn't worry much about not having fog lights... Are you up for a little reading?

    http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/lights/fog_lamps/fog_lamps.html

  • Thank you but Stern is still a bit behind the times for me. I am asking for opinions by actual users/owners about the Acura LED fogs that list for $500 plus installation on the '15 MDX.

  • quadricyclequadricycle Posts: 827
    edited August 2014

    He may be, but the physics involved haven't changed. Fog lights are about as useful as they were three decades ago. Actually, less, with the advent of projector headlights that are much better at controlling up scatter.

    By the way, I looked up the MDX's LED fogs hoping that they would be sourcing one of the better units out right now, but no such luck. If they're not using one of those (they could've fairly easily), then that suggest that cost was a very big determinant. Not good. The main goal was most likely to create a selling point, not good fog lights. It probably didn't resonate with consumers as much as expected, and that's why they're available as an accessory instead of standard this year.

    I wish I had first hand experience to share with you, but sadly I don't. All I can tell you is that you these units aren't among the better ones. Hope it helps.

  • How are you able to get any info on what Acura is using in the LED Fogs?
    What are they using?

  • quadricyclequadricycle Posts: 827
    edited August 2014

    I don't know what they're using, nor did I insinuate that I did. It doesn't really matter though.

    Right now, LED lighting is gaining popularity and costs are also dropping. So you've got two things going on, rigorous development of good LED lights by the big automakers and Tier 1 suppliers, and a whole slew of cheaper, poorer performing products to, for example, put in a brochure as a selling point or sell as accessories in dealerships.

    The same thing has been going on with regular non-LED fog lights for decades. They're either used as a model indicator (to show people you got the more expensive model), or a dealer accessory for them to make money. You would be really, really hard pressed to find good fog lights. Just because these are LED doesn't mean the strategy has changed.

    The only reason we should think otherwise is if they're using one of the rare decent (though not superb) LED units that have been developed recently by some of the well know lighting suppliers. These units aren't cheap, as there's a good use of optics and stylistic elements going on. The MDX's LED fogs are about as far as possible from this approach, that should scream to us that not many developmental dollars went into them. There's nothing stylish about them, they're using a very simple, and cheap, reflector system, plus they are somewhat inexpensive when you account for profit margins of both the manufacturer and dealer. I seriously doubt these units came from a big supplier like Stanley or Koito, and even if they are, they're nothing for them to be proud of.

  • OK so if someone who actually has experience with the Acura LED Fogs would respond, I'd like to hear from you.

  • Took delivery of our 15 MDX Adv. So far very impressed with the LED headlights and the LED fog lights.

  • For posterity, the supplier of the fog lights is NAL (North American Lighting), a subsidiary of Koito.

    Congrats on the new car Hugo_Stiglitz, glad you like it.

  • Just took delivery of the 15 MDX tech package with fog lights. IMO, the fog lights are probably not necessary but I had them installed for cosmetic purposes.
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