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New Matrix projector LED vs "old" reflector LED headlights comparison on US cars

Mrbrock

Member
Mar 26, 2020
582
310
Napa, CA
I saw in the other comparison thread that someone said theirs move when they turn their steering wheel. Will see if they can provide a video.
 

casey1202

Member
Mar 13, 2021
25
11
Dallas, TX
This is based on the Model 3 German regulatory filings. I'm making the leap that the lights are the same in the MY.

As for why they're not activated? My guess is because the full functionality is either not ready, or not passed regulatory approval, or some other reason. I don't see them enabling partial functionality.
That's good to know about the German regulatory filing. I'm much more interested in the adaptive functionality than the matrix lighting, to be entirely honest. First, who know how long it will take the states to catch up? And secondly, my last two cars have had adaptive LEDs and I've grown quite fond of them. There's no doubt in my mind that when navigating through curves or when cornering they make a very real difference.
 
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casey1202

Member
Mar 13, 2021
25
11
Dallas, TX
After driving the Y with the new lights for about an hour, then jumped in the Y with the old headlights and drove it for half an hour in city streets/ freeways. I can barely tell the difference. Maybe if you live in the boonies where it's pitch dark it'll be more dramatic like in the photos above. But during my drives I could barely tell. They are much more similar than the pics above would have you believe. It's like blind folding beer drinkers and give them cheap red wines and white wines, they probably won't be able to tell the difference. I did like the matrix high beams though. I think in rain or fogs the new high beams will be more functional and cause less glare than the old lights. The new high beams shine in front of you not in the sky and everywhere in between.

One thing I liked about the old headlights is that there are no sharp cutoffs. The lights just gradually blend from bright to dark and that was more pleasant to my eyes. I'm saying this even though I'm actually planning to get a YP w/ the new lights. Now if the matrix lights here in the US are able to do what the european ones can that's another story. But I think the chance of that happening in the next 2-3 years is pretty slim. I think they are making the US lights in compliant with europeans laws to save on production costs.

The big question is if I wanted a non-performance Y would I wait (assuming I can) to get the new lights? Depends on how long you plan on keep your car. They are that similar and there is something to like about each light. I do like the cool patterns on the wall and the sharp cutoffs. I also like the darker looking lens during the day but that's purely esthetics. At night they are pretty much the same but some might not like the super sharp cutoffs. The high beams on the new lights are better but we barely use high beams. Finally, there's that possibility that these lights might some day work like the European ones.

So if you plan to keep your car for 3-4 years I say get your car now and enjoy it. If you plan to keep it for 5 years or longer than maybe wait if you think the laws might change. Otherwise, you're not really missing anything.
Thanks again for taking the time to take and post all the photos and this review - very helpful! I noticed in all of the pics it seems like the newer global lights don't illuminate the three to five feet immediately in front of the car as well as the older reflector style. Just curious if this was as apparent in person or is it more noticeable due to the contrast in the photos?
 

alloverx

Member
Mar 20, 2016
874
606
Seattle
NTSA is under a lot of pressure from Audi (& likely others) to update their light regulations to match Europe.
One hopes they will at some point and then the Matrix headlights firmware might be updated by Tesla.
 
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N2B8

Member
Nov 24, 2018
71
111
So Cal
Thanks again for taking the time to take and post all the photos and this review - very helpful! I noticed in all of the pics it seems like the newer global lights don't illuminate the three to five feet immediately in front of the car as well as the older reflector style. Just curious if this was as apparent in person or is it more noticeable due to the contrast in the photos?
That’s due to the fact that in most of the photos I was comparing the old lights on a Model 3, which sits lower than the lights on the Model Y. Check out a couple photos toward the beginning where I was directly comparing the old lights on a Model Y vs the new ones on another model Y.

Regarding the lights turning when you turn the steering wheels I’m 99% certain that they don’t turn. I had those previously in BMWs and I think they are not that useful in the cities.
 

Mrbrock

Member
Mar 26, 2020
582
310
Napa, CA
NTSA is under a lot of pressure from Audi (& likely others) to update their light regulations to match Europe.
One hopes they will at some point and then the Matrix headlights firmware might be updated by Tesla.
You realize if they come into alignment with Europe it will create worse lights? How many American built cars have headlight washers? 0, because we don’t require them. Europe does and if you don’t have them you have to reduce light output. I am happy without matrix lights and not needing to have another system that always breaks down.
 

BigTrailer

Member
Mar 18, 2021
56
33
Toronto, Canada
I am happy without matrix lights and not needing to have another system that always breaks down.
Sprayer nozzles have been around for several decades. They're a fairly dependable "system", failure is about as common as a wart growing on a rock.

Canadian regulations for example do not require sprayer nozzles; yet can utilize the advantages of LED Matrix + cornering. It's your country, you can write your regulations however the people wish!
 

SQLDevDBA

Member
Jun 11, 2020
27
34
Orlando, FL, USA
That’s due to the fact that in most of the photos I was comparing the old lights on a Model 3, which sits lower than the lights on the Model Y. Check out a couple photos toward the beginning where I was directly comparing the old lights on a Model Y vs the new ones on another model Y.

Regarding the lights turning when you turn the steering wheels I’m 99% certain that they don’t turn. I had those previously in BMWs and I think they are not that useful in the cities.
You’re correct, they don’t turn, also had them in the X4 M40i I traded for my MYP and it was only useful on backroads.
 

bluenycom

Member
Feb 12, 2021
47
49
Rancho Cucamonga
Regarding the lights turning when you turn the steering wheels I’m 99% certain that they don’t turn. I had those previously in BMWs and I think they are not that useful in the cities.
Active Matrix and Adaptive are 2 different things. Adaptive is for low beam turning with the vehicles. Active Matrix is a name used by Audi for its "smart" high beam trying to keep as much light as possible without blinding incoming vehicles. It's more than just auto high beam. Adaptive lights are legal in US, but Active matrix is not yet legal. All these tech hardware come with a cost of course. it doesn't make sense to have all the hardware without any foreseeable change in the law to allow its use.
 
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alloverx

Member
Mar 20, 2016
874
606
Seattle
My vehicle from 2006 has adaptive headlights and its neat but not earth shattering.
Maybe if you are driving in the countryside at night with winding roads it would be more useful.
 

SDM44

Member
Aug 9, 2019
265
195
Los Angeles
I've had cars with adaptive headlights (on an Audi and BMW), and sometimes I would notice them moving but the majority of time I never noticed them or any significant difference.

That said, the beam spread from the 'older' LED lights look better IMO, as it has more spill like a good flood light. The new projectors have a nice cutoff in the beam, but you can really tell hotspot is concentrated to the front (for the adaptive setting) and it has very little spill.
 

T_Gravity

Member
Apr 5, 2021
9
5
Houston, Texas
Here in Canada, my 2018 Subaru Forester has it and it works great!
What you have in Subaru is Adaptive Headlights ( Auto High Beam), the matrix headlights are entirely different and Subaru does not have them. I don't think Subaru will ever equip their cars with Matrix headlights. Not Yet at least on their ICE cars.

Also, Tesla already has Auto High Beam lights, all this talk is about activating Matrix headlights with a software update.
 

bluenycom

Member
Feb 12, 2021
47
49
Rancho Cucamonga
What you have in Subaru is Adaptive Headlights ( Auto High Beam), the matrix headlights are entirely different and Subaru does not have them. I don't think Subaru will ever equip their cars with Matrix headlights. Not Yet at least on their ICE cars.

Also, Tesla already has Auto High Beam lights, all this talk is about activating Matrix headlights with a software update.
Actually, Adaptive headlights and auto High Beam are 2 separate technologies. You can have one or the other or both. Adaptive is low beam more useful for turning/cornering. High beam, as implied, is for long distance visibility mainly when there is no street lights. Auto high beam uses camera to turn on/off base on amount of light ahead and incoming headlight.
 
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Lon12

Member
Oct 12, 2015
838
1,040
Calgary, AB, Canada
That’s due to the fact that in most of the photos I was comparing the old lights on a Model 3, which sits lower than the lights on the Model Y. Check out a couple photos toward the beginning where I was directly comparing the old lights on a Model Y vs the new ones on another model Y.

Regarding the lights turning when you turn the steering wheels I’m 99% certain that they don’t turn. I had those previously in BMWs and I think they are not that useful in the cities.
Do you know if your camera was using the same exposure (shutter speed and ISO) for the different pictures? Thanks.
 

T_Gravity

Member
Apr 5, 2021
9
5
Houston, Texas
Yes, You are right. My Bad, Thanks for pointing that out.
Actually, Adaptive headlights and auto High Beam are 2 separate technologies. You can have one or the other or both. Adaptive is low beam more useful for turning/cornering. High beam, as implied, is for long distance visibility mainly when there is no street lights. Auto high beam uses camera to turn on/off base on amount of light ahead and incoming headlights
 

AntonioAnselmi

New Member
Mar 31, 2021
2
4
Sitges - Spain
Thanks for the pictures! The old lights cast a wider low beam pattern, but the cutoff on the new lights are very impressive. I've always found that one challenge with lights with great cutoff is you are more lightly to get flashed in a highly sprung car. On coming traffic will perceive that they are being flashed, when in reality, it's just the sharp beam cutoff and the car bouncing up and down the road.
It can be louder but nor clearer.
I've had exactly the same feeling with my new 2021 M3 LR DM compared with the same model 2019.
Yet, the wider/more spreaded flash of the old ones was disturbing the coming traffic more than the new ones do as the cut is much sharper and evident in the upper end of the flash. New ones are more focused and if i may say, more safe: lightening what it's supposed to be lit, the road ahead you and part of the shoulder; not the moon, the stars, all the surrounding buildings, pedestrians, shops and restaurants...
 

N2B8

Member
Nov 24, 2018
71
111
So Cal
Do you know if your camera was using the same exposure (shutter speed and ISO) for the different pictures? Thanks.
I used my iPhone 11 Pro Max on auto. Most of the pics on the road had ISO of 500-800, shutter speed around 1/4-1/8 while the pics in front of my white door garage had a slightly faster 1/50. In real life the color on the two lights were pretty much identical, the matrix light might have had some bright/hot spots while the older light slightly more uniform.
 

casey1202

Member
Mar 13, 2021
25
11
Dallas, TX
You’re correct, they don’t turn, also had them in the X4 M40i I traded for my MYP and it was only useful on backroads.

My vehicle from 2006 has adaptive headlights and its neat but not earth shattering.
Maybe if you are driving in the countryside at night with winding roads it would be more useful.

I've had cars with adaptive headlights (on an Audi and BMW), and sometimes I would notice them moving but the majority of time I never noticed them or any significant difference.
I've got to say I disagree with you guys on this. I've got a 2018 BMW X3 with the Executive Package that includes the fully adaptive LED lights and they are really, really good. The technology has come a long way in the last few years and I can easily say they are the best headlights I've ever driven with. While they are certainly impressive on backroads, I live and mostly drive in urban areas and even in the city I find them very helpful. The adaptive features in conjunction with the cornering lights do a great job of illuminating things like curbs, center medians and pedestrians who may otherwise not be well lit when you're crossing a sidewalk into a parking lot, for example.

It's because of my experience with the lights on my X3 that I'm paying such close attention to the new global lights that may or may not be coming to the MY LR.
 

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