LED taillights are everywhere, but most are pixellated eyesores. The 2014 Dodge Durango's LEDs don't suffer that problem. They give off a uniform electroluminescent glow, like someone wrapped Clu around the back of an SUV. It's a neat look with some cool light trickery involved.
One of the ways Chrysler has been trying to keep Dodge vehicles from looking exactly like Chryslers and Jeeps is by adding racetrack-style lighting in the rear. And designers like it so much that they're continually improving on it.
The Ron Burgundy-approved 2014 Dodge Durango is the next Dodge to have the style behind the Charger, which was first, and the Dart. But if one were to look close enough at each one side by side, you'd notice the Durango's lighting is a little bit smoother. A little more refined.
Because I think it looks cool, I talked to Joe Dehner, head of Ram and Dodge design, about how they pulled it off. And it sounds much easier said than done. Here's how.
The lighting right now on the Dart and Charger is more pixelated than the new Durango, which uses 192 LEDs to create the smoother presentation. Designers experimented with what they had already done with the Charger and built upon that. It's expected that future refreshes of the Dart and Charger will use the newer lighting. "We won't be going backward as far as evolution," Dehner says.
After laying out each of the 192 LEDs, they're arranged at 90-degree angles, half reflecting upward and half reflecting downward, and all of them with an additional reflector that shoots the light rearward. Lastly, a diffused inner lens is laid on top of all of them, which reduces the pixelation.
Because designers have had success with LED lighting, it's helping Chrysler as a whole to move away from traditional bulb lighting, but don't expect every Chrysler product to have Durango and Charger rear lights. For now, just have fun looking at these things in the dark.
[Photos via Chrysler]