Saturday, December 8, 2012

The rise and fall of chrome taillights

2004 Lexus IS
Taillights and their plastic casing has traditionally been red, which enticed teenagers and tuning enthusiasts in the 90s to convert the taillights of cheap cars (Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Nissan Sentra, etc.) from red to chrome. However, earlier this decade, a short-lived trend emerged where automakers incorporated the chrome taillights as stock. I don't see many examples anymore...the fad did not hold. I particularly never understood why Lexus used chrome taillights on the last-gen IS (above), but it must not have been popular because the current model uses red taillights. The demographic Lexus was going after for the IS was entry-luxury / above-average income, but the taillights suggested a teenager demographic; there was a clear disconnect. Click through for some more examples.



Mitsubishi Eclipse
The latest Mitsubishi Eclipse also had chrome taillights. This model never became as popular as the mid-90s model, and was recently discontinued...I think partly due to the chrome taillights, which were a bit past their prime.

Mitsubishi Outlander
Staying on Mitsubishi for a moment, the design of their new Outlander does not make much sense to me overall, but the taillights are no exception...

Mitsubishi Outlander
...There is too much chrome on a car that tries way too hard to appear futuristic.

Ford Fusion
The last-gen Fusion's use of chrome wasn't as egregious as some of the examples above--and it acts as a nice accent to an otherwise bland rear end--but in the Fusion's mid-cycle refresh, one of the few things Ford changed was to remove the chrome and add a honeycomb overlay to the taillights (see below)...

Ford Fusion
...A subtle choice that signifies a change in consumer tastes across the industry.

Nissan Altima
The Nissan Altima's taillights were revolutionary at the time - no other car had such a mechanical, exposed design, and the use of chrome was a key component. This was crucial for enticing buyers in such a crowded, yet bland field of competitors...

Nissan Altima
...The chrome survived the next model refresh...

Nissan Altima
...But was eliminated in the current (fairly odd-looking) design.

Overall, I am happy the chrome fad is no longer in fashion - taillights should be red! Mitsubishi should take notice on the new Outlander, although being outlandish may be exactly what they are going after...

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