A reader named Arthur recently contacted me with a question about headlight options on the 2014/2015 Toyota Highlander. He asked:
“Quick question. Does the new Highlander have an option for HID headlights, or is it only incandescent/halogen? Thanks.”
This is an excellent question, and the short answer is “no,” none of the current Highlander trim levels offer HID headlights as an option.
What are HID headlights?
In case you were wondering, HID stands for “high-intensity discharge,” which is a type of electrical gas-discharge lamp that makes more visible light per unit of electricity than a fluorescent or incandescent lamp.
The gas in this case is xenon.
On the road, you might recognize these are the bluish headlights that blind you as they approach. The benefit of HID lights (to the driver) is better visibility, particularly in the periphery.
The downside of HID lights is that they can blind those going in the opposite direction. This is especially true if they’re from a cheap, aftermarket kit.
HID headlights on the Highlander?
Anyway… Those who are hoping for HID headlights on their Highlander will be disappointed to learn that none of the current configurations offer them. Rather, in both 2014 and 2015, halogen headlights come standard at all trim levels, including the LE, LE Plus, XLE, and Limited.
The current (2015) wording in Toyota’s e-brochure is:
Exterior features: Projector-beam halogen smoked-chrome-accent headlights with auto on/off feature
The situation was essentially the same in 2014, though you didn’t get the “smoked-chrome-accent” until you went up to the Limited trim level. So the LE, LE Plus and XLE had regular chrome, I guess. For what it’s worth, I have a 2014 XLE and I have no idea what they’re talking about.
The only other lighting options are that you get fog lights on the LE Plus and above, and the Limited trim level adds LED daytime running lights (DRL). The lower trim levels still have DRLs, but not LED.
Oh, and if you opt for the tech package (available on the Limited trim level, but not on LE/Plus or XLE)you get the automatic high beam (AHB) system. Note that the tech package is included with the top-end Platinum package.
What about aftermarket HID kits?
Of course, the lack of an HID option doesn’t stop you from swapping out your headlights after the fact. But please be aware that most of the aftermarket “conversion” kits that you see for sale involve the installation of an HID lamp in the OEM (halogen) enclosure. This is a bad idea. Why?
Well, as it turns out, such kits are likely to be illegal for road use. The concern, according to the NHTSA, is that such HID conversion kits can produce excessive glare for oncoming traffic. Not good.
As always… If you have any experience with this sort of thing, I invite you to chime in by leaving a comment below.