Winter months frequently send us north, into New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. A few hours of driving takes us from the hustle and bustle of Boston and into the serenity of wooded, snow covered, mountains. Two-lane roads meander between those mountains, following the paths of the rivers that shaped them. Covered bridges connect the old with the new. The fresh air is instantly rejuvenating, reminding us that we don’t spend enough time here.
Driving the main roads is not particularly challenging. The surfaces are well maintained and the snow is plowed often. But it’s the secondary roads that can get tricky and it happens quickly. Some are not paved and others infrequently plowed. The locals know how to get around but the fancy navigation systems used by the city slickers often send them down the wrong paths.
I find night driving to be particularly challenging. Factory low-beams on my 4Runner don’t illuminate far enough and high-beams point straight ahead in a narrow path. I needed to add secondary driving lights but I did not want to add any light bars to the front of my rig. I started searching…
In many online 4Runner, Overland, and 4×4 forums, many people go all out: off-road bumpers, vehicle specific light bars, and safari racks are the most common places to mount lights. I have neither the need nor the desire for any of those. Placing a set of lights into, or behind, the grill was my best option but I couldn’t find a solution I loved.
One day I was chatting with a 4Runner-owning friend who ordered a lower grill and lights from Rigid Industries but never installed it. Instead, he decided to go with an ARB bumper and install his light onto that. The grill was brand new, never installed, still in the box. He asked if I was interested.
Having never heard of the brand, I did some research. Everywhere I looked people praised Rigid Industries on their products and customer service. I looked over the grill again. It was steel, powder-coated black, seemed very well made, and comes with a lifetime warranty. Most importantly, it integrated neatly into the front-end of my truck and supported two of Rigid Industries’ D-Series square LED lights. The 4Runner lower grill retails for $259.99 but my friend sold it to me for much less.
|Actual distances here.
A – The measurement of light emitted at 10 meters (32.8 feet) from the lens
|B – Distance at 1 Lux (defined as enough usable light to read a newspaper)||C – Distance with .25 Lux = peak beam distance (lighting that resembles moonlight)|
All I had to do now was pick out and order the D-series lights I needed. And right away that became rather overwhelming. I had no idea which light set was the right one for me. Rigid Industries offers the D-series lights in many flavors: marine and automotive, single or pair, flush or surface mount, spot and hyperspot beams, diffused, wide and driving beams, high and low beam, five different light colors, various lenses, off-road and SAE-complaint lights. And Rigid has a ton of other lighting options, the D-series is just a model line. I decided to contact Rigid Industries directly.
When ordering lights, or when doing any kinds of modifications really, it is important not to lose track of your goals and needs. I needed auxiliary lights. Ones that I would use on dark secondary roads or no roads at all. They would need to work in conjunction with my low- and high-beams. I wanted the light pattern that would illuminate straight ahead and to the sides, too. In the end I decided to try a set of D2 Driving lights. Rigid agreed to send them to me for the purpose of this review.
The 4Runner lower grill is made of 304 stainless steel. It is actually two flat pieces sandwiched together. The back piece has mounting tabs for the grill to mount to the vehicle body and brackets for the D-series lights. The front piece is bolted onto it with stainless steel hardware and in a way works as cover for the back piece. The whole thing is powder-coated in black. The grill is very stiff and seems really well made – it is laser-cut, which is why all cuts are perfect and smooth. All the holes, between the two grill parts, light mounts, and vehicle mount tabs are aligned perfectly. It has a very solid feel to it.
The lights themselves are rather small, 3″x 3″ cubes that weigh around a pound each. The D2 driving lights I received had six white LEDs each, with clear lenses, but LED amounts, colors, and lenses vary based on application. The beauty of LEDs is not only that the lights are small and that they last long, but also that they draw much less power than comparable halogen bulbs. The six LED lights I received draw only 2.5 amps and use 34.5 watts of power each. Each cube puts out 3096 lumens, which is a lot. It’s hard to compare, but that’s roughly equivalent to a 100-watt halogen bulb.
The metal case itself feels very solid. It is difficult to tell from the pictures but almost half of the cube is just a heatsink. The cable, and the wiring harness the came with the kit, including the relay, have very good quality weather/water-resistant connectors. The wires seem thicker than needed, too, which is a good thing. The relayed harness does not have a connection to any other lights in the vehicle or the ignition switch, which means that these lights will work independently of other lights, unlike any OEM setup, and will be always hot. The only thing that does not give off a convincing amount of quality is the interior toggle light switch itself, but I will reserve final judgement until I finish installing the lights.
The set of lights I received, item number 50231, retails for $379.99. In the future article I will go over the installation of the lights and their performance. So stay tuned for more with these lights and more 4Runner.