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HOT OFF THE GRILLE

Ford is heating up its grilles, particularly its Fusion model. The Fusion jettisoned the old, bulky shutters that go back years and embraced a wide, bold grille with numerous thin blades.

Consumer Reports’ Jake Fisher says the grille helps the midsize family sedan “evoke the looks of an Aston-Martin” _ adding to the mystique and brand identity without adding to the bottom line.

Ford hopes to finally surpass Toyota Camry’s sales with the new Fusion, helped by a more aggressive-looking trapezoidal grille.

There are other grilles providing artistic thrills: When the light hits it just right, the angular brushed-metal grille of Hyundai’s new luxury concept car shows off at least a dozen small inverted triangles that appear behind horizontal bars. The wide-mouth grille has a bunch of tiny holes, and the angles reflect light. It’s just one of many new styling cues on the HCD-14 Genesis, which Hyundai says is the direction it will take the next generation of its luxury cars, the Genesis and Equus.

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THE EYES HAVE IT

The tail lamps on the high-performance version of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee are tinted black, giving it an ominous look. Ralph Gilles, a Chrysler design leader, noted the lamps are “kind of like death.”

“They look like they’re really staring at you. If you look at them they’re all dark inside. You can’t even see the lens,” Gilles says.

He says it’s the first time Chrysler has done such headlamps. The vehicle, he added, “can pretty much be sinister if you want it to.”

He says designers wanted to create something unique that “owners will love.”

The headlights on Land Rover’s small SUV _ the Range Rover Evoque _ also give that vehicle “a bit more of the sinister look,” according to IHS Automotive analyst Rebecca Lindland. The slim lamp also represents an advance in functionality.

“The great thing with lighting technology is that you can actually have a very narrow light and still have a tremendous amount of road illumination,” she says.

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