Find by category:

Exhaust Notes

Car Tech Spotlight: Toyota Venza Auto High Beam

Feature switches headlights from high beam to low and back, with nothing required of the driver.

By Douglas Newcomb Dec 14, 2012 5:20AM

Toyota Venza Automatic High BeamLike most vehicles, the Toyota Venza has an automatic setting for the headlights, in this case on a left-side steering-wheel stalk. And like most people, I usually just leave a car’s headlight switch on this setting so I don’t have to think about turning the headlights on or off.

But after switching on the high beams in a 2013 Venza Limited one evening and then encountering a car coming from the opposite direction, the headlights dimmed before I could reach for the stalk. Cool. And after the car passed, the high beams automatically switched back on just as quickly.

After checking the manual, I found that the Venza I was driving had an Automatic High Beam feature. Mercedes-Benz has Adaptive High Beam Assist and Ford also offers Automatic High Beams on some of its vehicles -- and similar technology has been around for 60 years.

But Toyota adds a new twist to this technology on the Venza. Or maybe one less twist.

I didn’t even realize the vehicle had Automatic High Beam until it just worked. And that’s the difference between the Toyota feature and others, which require the driver to activate them manually. It’s a set-and-forget feature. I also noticed that it switched back to low beams when vehicles turned in front of me and even once when I went from a dark area to one with streetlights.

Driving at night can be difficult enough. But technology like Toyota’s Automatic High Beam, which is standard on the Limited trim level, makes it easier and safer, with less distraction for the driver.

Check out the video below from Toyota for a demo of the feature.

Dec 14, 2012 8:45AM

"Set and forget feature"  You see, that's the problem.  You set and you forget.  You set your automatic headlights to turn on when it's dark, but you forget that you need to manually turn them on when its foggy or raining.  I can see where if you happen to remember to turn on your headlights, this new automatic highbeam feature could create problems under the same conditions.  Another useless technology that just makes drivers lazier.

Dec 18, 2012 3:55AM
My father's 1956 Cadillac had an automatic dimmer, I used to put a glove over it as it flashed the lights every time you drove by a street light.  In those days the dimmer switch was on the floor where it could get the contacts all corroded from the salt/sand we put on the roads and you could lose your lights altogether.  Driving was more of a challenge then.
Dec 14, 2012 10:51AM
I have to say, this is not a new technology.  My grandfather had it on his '87 Ford Thunderbird.  I remember riding with him when I was a kid when I noticed that the brights were turning off and on and I didn't see his hand moving on the light controls so I asked him about it, and he explained that it automatically cut off the brights when it saw someone oncoming.  He explained that it was a small sensor in the bumper just underneath the headlight.  I asked how well it worked, and he said it actually worked just fine (the car was about 10 years old at this point) but it wouldn't work as well in the snow when the snow would clog the sensor.

However, that old Ford system only looked for oncoming cars' headlights.  It did not look for ambient lighting, and I don't think it worked as well for cars going the same direction ahead (where only the tail lights were visible).  As some of the regulars here know, I like Japanese cars and they are abit of a hobby of mine.  Still, I have to give credit where it's due.

Dec 16, 2012 10:16AM

This will give people one less option to get out of tickets when they choose not to dim their lights at night.   It will force them to pay attention, get their eyes checked and keep their vehicle devices operating correctly.


Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
MSN Money


Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.

Have a story idea? Tip us off at