On the Road

The shining

With this year's cars, minimalism is officially dead. In its place, some serious flash: Chrome is showing up both inside (from instrument panels to dashboards) and out (on windows, wheels, and lights).

CAR Audi A6 In its previous incarnations, the A6 had a modern, Bauhauslike design.
CHROME The new A6 has a prominent chrome grille—a bold turn away from the understatement of the past.
CONCEPT Pure prestige. "If you see this face in the mirror," says the car's lead designer, Achim Badstubner, "you pull over quick."
COST/CONTACT V-6 model, $42,600; V-8 model, $52,200; www.audi.com

CAR Infiniti M45 A bruiser in gentleman's clothing, it has a 335hp V-8 and 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
CHROME A heavy bar of chrome around the windows is echoed by aluminum trim on the dash.
CONCEPT The theme is vaguely nautical, with fenders referencing catamarans.
COST/CONTACT M45 Sport, from $49,500; www.infiniti.com

CAR Mercedes-Benz CLS This four-door coupe is a new innovation for Mercedes—and the car world at large.
CHROME The thick band of chrome around the windows is subtle, but it still manages to set the CLS apart from the sedate S- and E-classes.
CONCEPT Though it has four doors, the CLS was designed as a sports car. The chrome accentuates the dramatically sloping roofline and high shoulder.
COST/CONTACT CLS500, $65,600; CLS55 AMG, $87,300; www.mercedes-benz.com

CAR Chrysler 300C Tall, big, wide, and entirely unsubtle, this sedan hit the road with a more-is-more mantra.
CHROME Chrome-trimmed windows match the heavy, protruding chrome door handles.
CONCEPT The car recalls the days of the imposing American cruiser—when bigger was better and gas guzzling was au courant.
COST/CONTACT 300C, from $23,900; www.chrysler.com

CAR Ford Mustang The latest Mustang harks back to the car's glory days in the sixties.
CHROME Rings around the speedometer and tachometer bring the sparkle front and center, as does chrome on the wheel and interior door handles.
CONCEPT The chrome "anchors the new car to some of the best Mustangs ever done," says designer J. Mays. "Chrome is an important part of muscle-car lore."
COST/CONTACT V-6 model, $19,400; GT model, $25,000; www.fordvehicles.com