Big, in-your-face radiator grilles were a fashion statement at the Detroit auto show.
The trend has spread as fast as the Princess Di hairstyle in the 1980s, showing up on models ranging from the entry-level Mazda2 to the new ultra-high-end Bentley Continental GT.
The look is one part silver mesh jewelry, one part metal honeycomb and one part chain-link fence. It is visible on new Ford police cars, on Toyota pickups, beneath the Mercedes star, and on some rear bumpers. It is prominent on both the 2011 North American car and the truck of the year -- the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Explorer (although the Volt uses a stamped metal plate that only looks like a mesh grille.)
What does it communicate? A little bit of luxury (Jaguar), a little bit of racing (Audi), and a little bit of Gen Y attitude (the Hyundai Curb concept). Whatever it says, judging from the auto show displays in Detroit, it's clearly the year's in look.