The language of automotive design: Nine brands

CNET Car Tech looks at prominent design elements from nine different car brands.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
Cadillac CTS
Cadillac calls its unique design language Art and Science. Cadillac

Automotive design language (photos)

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In recent years, automotive designers have become very aware that strong design language reinforces a brand. BMW and Cadillac pushed hard in the last decade to create a common look to all models under each brand. The result was that, when you see a Cadillac on the street, you know that it is a Cadillac. No other cars look quite like it.

Other companies quickly got on board. Automotive designers come up with phrases to help their teams focus when designing a new car or a model update. Design languages such as L-Finesse, Keen Edge, and Fluidic Sculpture encompass the contours of the sides of a car, the grille, exterior lighting, fenders, and rear. The phrases may sound a little flighty, but they often result in strong design themes, giving a brand unique character.

We've put together photos that illustrate the design languages of major automotive brands with strong themes, along with a few notable design elements that distinguish specific car makes.

Check out the language of automotive design.