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2014 Mazda5 Sport: Tom's Hardware's Project Car Update

Update: LED Headlights

Last summer we weren't able to recommend the Hellst LED headlights. That's still the case today; we've since removed the H11 drop-in replacements. As mentioned in our first project car story, the LEDs were terrible for peripheral illumination, and they made it hard to see street signs. But I still wanted a simple upgrade to the factory headlights that boosted light output from the already excellent OEM projectors.

There’s still the option to drop in an HID kit, but I remain hesitant. I’ve simply seen too many vehicles with HID kits in standard housings that are absolutely blinding, and I do not want to be one of those people. My research suggests Mazda's factory projectors are able to support an HID kit. But there are a lot of options available and I need to narrow them down further.

From left to right: LED, OEM H11, H9

My interim decision was to use a higher-output H9 bulb, which is typically used for the high beam in some vehicles, as suggested by vehicle lighting expert Daniel Stern. The stock H11 bulb typically puts out 1250 lumens and requires 55W each. Stepping up to the H9 increases output to 2100 lumens, with an accompanying power consumption increase to 65W. The physical bulbs are otherwise interchangeable, though.

The connector that goes into the bulb requires some modification, since the H9s have an extra tab that needs to be removed before the connector will fit. This could become an annoyance if you burn through bulbs quickly, so I went with a more plug-and-play solution, purchasing a pair of H11-to-H9 wiring harnesses. The problem was solved for $30.

I'm quite happy with the results. Light output is noticeably brighter and the bulbs only cost $10 each.