For some cars, lights not only illuminate the road ahead but also serve as a distinctive styling element that can sometimes be the most interesting part of a car’s overall design. Automakers are increasingly attempting to solidify their signature look with light designs, and LED technology allows them to create unique designs that are identifiable whether it’s day or night.
Lexus RC F
The Lexus RC F coupe’s gaping spindle grille isn’t the only polarizing element featured on its front fascia. Its lighting system features an L-shaped LED daytime running lamp accent that is separate from the main headlight housing. The optional triple-beam LED headlamps are also L-shaped and look sharp.
Porsche 918 Spyder
The 918 Spyder was the first Porsche to feature the four-point “floating” LED lighting system. Although not overly intricate, the design is unique to Porsche and should age well. Porsche now offers the four-point LED option for other models, such as the Panamera, Macan, and the recently revised Cayenne.
Ford‘s ponycar sports a number of retro design elements in addition to its triple-bar taillights. The 2015 Mustang features an updated and more modern take on the taillights but retains the cool sequential-style turn signals. Up front, the Mustang GT gets LED accents that look like shark gills and mirror the slant of the taillights.
Mercedes continues to unveil standout lighting, and the E-Class is no exception. The optional Lighting Package includes full-LED headlamps with sharp-looking boomerang-style LED accents you can’t find on other Mercedes models. An E-Class without the fancy LED lighting elements looks woefully bland in comparison.
The utilitarian pickup truck rarely breaks ground when it comes to styling, but Ford made a good effort with the 2015 F-150. Specifically, the front end features big and bold U-shaped headlights with LED units available as an option (a segment first). LED tube lights border the outer edge of the headlamps to give the F-150 a distinctive look at night.
Aston Martin Vanquish
Take a look at the Vanquish’s mug, and there’s no mistaking it for anything other than an Aston Martin thanks to the automaker’s signature grille. The rear end of the Vanquish is also unmistakably Aston Martin thanks to its “light blade”-style LED taillamps that appear to slice through the sheetmetal.
The 2016 Volvo XC90 is the first production Volvo to sport the automaker’s “Thor”-style headlights. They’re a striking feature in an otherwise simple front fascia. And like the previous-generation XC90, the new crossover retains its dramatic taillights that rise vertically along the glass hatch.
The Bentley Mulsanne forgoes intricate headlight designs in favor of simple, round, and large headlight units that dominate the luxury sedan’s mug. Smaller round units are offset to the side and feature LED halo daytime running lamps. Meanwhile, the taillights are simple yet distinctive with floating-ellipse-style LEDs.
The best view of the Jaguar F-Type? Its rear end. The F-Type’s wide haunches give the two-door its sexy stance, and the thin taillights that wrap around the well into the rear fenders help accentuate that look. An LED light bar borders the lower edge of the taillights, making it easy to identify the F-Type at night.
Land Rover Range Rover
The Range Rover features all-LED rear taillights that are less garish than the last generation, which sported red, amber, and clear lenses. Now the taillights feature vertically stacked LED units that are square and befit the Range Rover’s boxy styling.
Ferrari FXX K
There’s a lot to take in when looking at the Ferrari FXX K. For starters, the functional split rear wing looks futuristic, and numerous and enormous air scoops look ready to swallow small animals. That said, Ferrari decided to keep things simple with the headlights and taillights, which are nothing more than thin slits in the body.
The BMW i8 is often described as rolling art, and it’s not hard to see why. The back end, for example, appears to have a floating pillar that connects to the cool U-shaped taillights, which are accented by thin LED bars. BMW i8 supercars sold outside of the U.S. are available with industry-first laser headlamps that emit a sharp and distinctive beam of light.
Porsche 911 Carrera 4
What’s the easiest way to identify a non-turbo, all-wheel-drive Porsche 911? Head to the back and look for a light strip that connects the taillight units. It’s simple, elegant, and gives this 911 variant a special touch.
Aside from the Escalade, the 2015 CTS might have the boldest mug in Cadillac‘s lineup. Out back, the CTS features Cadillac’s familiar vertical light bar setup, but the front sports bright and flash LED accents that run along the outer edge of the headlamps and down to the lower bumper. The latter LED units also double as turn signals and hazards, instantly switching from bright white to amber.
2016 Audi Q7
Audi is credited for igniting the LED lighting trend, and the all-new 2016 Q7 crossover showcases the automaker’s newest design. Here, the headlights feature “double arrow” LED accents and all-LED low- and high-beam lamps. The double arrow theme is also used for the taillights.