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Car bling all aglitter at Detroit auto show

– Headlights, grilles and other doodads are stepping up and popping out on cars.

Car bling is proliferating: daytime running lights that go up the hood of the new Cadillac ATS; a wide, bold grille on the Ford Fusion; engraving within the lamps of the new Corvette and Ford Transit.

Bling isn’t new, but advancements in technology and design are allowing automakers to do more of it and move it from luxury cars into the mainstream.

“You’ve got form and function with the beauty,” IHS Automotive analyst Rebecca Lindland said.

The adornments are on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which opens to the public Saturday:

Fetching etching. Mom never advised looking into lights, but peering into the lamps of certain vehicles offers some aesthetic rewards: Tiny engravings are appearing inside, like figures inside a snow globe.

Headlights in the splashy new Corvette feature the brand’s crossed-flag logo, and the utilitarian Ford Connect offers Ford’s Blue Oval logo contained in a seven-sided shape.

Lindland says it’s intriguing that designers are “laying this kind of jewelry in just that small spot” – in the process attracting buyers and providing recognition on the road.

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 said.

Crystal clear . When it comes to headlights, there’s bling, and then there’s the king of bling.

The Acura RLX’s headlights look like a crystal chandelier, courtesy of a horizontal collection of lenses and LED light that has been split and directed in a beam pattern, according to David Hulick of Osram Automotive. The Acura’s lights are a great example of a vehicle being simultaneously eye-catching and illuminating with the help of LEDs, he said. “Lighting, in my opinion, has replaced chrome as the jewelry on the car.”

Stepping up. The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck has a practical feature that breaks up the boring horizontal view of the bumper.

There are two steps that make it easy to climb into the bed to fetch tools or tie down a load. The steps are inset into the corner of the bumpers, and even have treads to stop work shoes from slipping.

The always-ready steps could give GM an advantage over other automakers in an increasingly competitive pickup market, especially with buyers who constantly are going in and out of the truck bed. GM’s Allen County truck plant produces the Silverado and the GMC Sierra.

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