Driving at night can sometimes be frustrating, especially so during bad weather conditions such as snow or heavy rain. Pretty much every newer car is available with Xenon, LED, or even Laser lights, either as standard or as an additional option.
The headlight technology is by far the most important aspect of night driving. Halogen headlights can only give you a limited amount of light, and they are by far the worst headlight option available. Xenon headlights are way better compared to halogen units, but they are also not the best.
LED headlights should be the minimum standard if you plan on spending lots of time on the road during the evenings. Just make sure that the car in question does not just offer LED daytime running lights, the main headlight unit should also be LED.
The best headlight technology currently available is Laser lights. Besides the headlights, you can also increase your awareness with night vision technology and anti-glare rearview mirror coating which should protect your eyes.
The core differences between Halogen, Xenon, LED, and Laser headlights
As mentioned previously, proper headlights are a vital aspect of night driving. The oldest headlight technology and by far the worst one is a halogen unit. Halogen headlights usually last around 500-1000 hours before they break. When they do break, they are easy and cheap to replace. Avoid halogens if you spend any significant time driving in the dark.
Xenon or HID headlights (high-intensity discharge) were introduced in the 1990s as a huge upgrade from the traditional halogen bulb. An average HID unit has more than twice the lumens a halogen unit does, it uses less energy but it does cost more compared to a halogen bulb.
LED headlights are currently the golden standard of headlight technology as they produce the highest amount of lumens and they are able to successfully light up way more of the road surface than an HID unit. The disadvantages are that LEDs tend to be expensive and that they need dedicated cooling to function properly.
Laser lights are slowly starting to make their way into more expensive sedans made by BMW, Audi, and Mercedes. Laser lights are by far the most advanced light-producing units, and they are mostly activated on highway speeds because they can shine for up to 2000 feet.
Best cars for night driving
The Mazda 3 hatchback represents amazing value because it offers 21st-century interior and exterior design, LED headlights with automatic high-beam assist, and a set of anti-glare rearview and side-view mirrors.
If you are after a relatively affordable car that can still offer you lots of modern technology, the Mazda 3 hatchback is a great choice. Especially if you consider that the Mazda 3 also offers superior reliability and maintenance costs.
Mercedes Benz C-Class
The new Mercedes Benz C-Class feels and looks like a more compact version of the W223 S-Class. As such, the new C-Class is available with incredibly advanced LED/Laser lights which can blank out a part of their beam automatically so they don’t dazzle the oncoming traffic.
The C-Class can adjust its lights depending on your surroundings, and all you have to do is just sit there. Besides the amazing headlights, the new C-Class comes with auto-dimming mirrors to keep the glare at a minimum, and an amazing set of ambient lighting to brighten up the mood during long night drives.
Audi E-Tron GT
It would not be fair to talk above peak industry headlight technology without mentioning Audi. Audi was the first brand to introduce daytime running lights with the pioneering Audi R8 halo car. Audi was also at the forefront with Laser headlight technology with the Audi R8 LMX.
The Audi E-Tron GT however is one of the most interesting EVs money can buy right now thanks to a gorgeous interior and exterior design far better than anything Tesla and Porsche offer. If you combine that with amazing headlights and taillights which are packed with all the latest technologies, the E-Tron GT is a great choice.
How should I drive during the night?
While night driving, there is a couple of things you should keep in mind. First of all, if not in a fenced-up area, you should drive slowly if you don’t have proper headlight technology. One of the most important aspects of advanced light technology is the ability to let you know of any potential dangers in advance.
Besides these, you should also slow down when approaching corners as you never know what might be happening at the other end of that corner. Avoid looking directly at other people’s headlights and make sure you don’t dazzle other drivers if you don’t own any automatic headlights. Watch out for blown-out headlamps and keep your windscreen clean.
Can I upgrade my car’s headlights?
About 10 years or so, cars were available with either halogen or Xenon/LED headlights. Most of the time if you wanted the Xenon/LED option, you had to tick all the right option boxes. If you haven’t done that, there are ways you can upgrade your headlight units to Xenon or even LED technology.
The first option is to use OEM parts if the parts are interchangeable, and they often are with a fair bit of coding. Besides that, you can also opt for numerous options available in the vast realm of aftermarket and tuning companies.
Are adaptive headlights worth it?
Some of the earlier iterations were a bit questionable, but all the newer models should be bought with adaptive headlights as they truly do assist you on longer journeys. No matter if you drive only during the night or during the day, adaptive headlights will make your car retain more value which is beneficial when it comes time to sell the car.
Laser headlights for example are amazing, but they are not as necessary as a decent set of adaptive headlights. This way you won’t have to constantly adjust your high and low beams according to oncoming traffic. The car will do that for you, and it should take the strain out of longer journeys.