The car industry may not be as avant-garde as, say, Milan Fashion Week, but it can be trendy. Plaid seats and fake woodgrain trim in the 1970s gave way to silver-painted plastic and buttons — all the buttons — in the 1980s. By the 1990s, dealer-installed gold trim marked a high-end Lexus or Cadillac.
Today, it’s all about the absence of color: black. Automakers started with blacked-out accents on wheels and have subsequently moved into darkening all brightwork down to the badges. In the ’80s, we called it the Euro look, but blacked-out trim packages don’t come from the Continent today, ironically.
Blackout packages installed by automakers might look a lot like what you can do on your own with spray paint or a rubberized coating, but they tend to be better executed with finishes tested to last for the long run.
We’re not counting models such as BMW’s M versions that come with black badges as standard fare or Cadillac’s track-oriented Blackwing models. In those cases, the focus isn’t strictly on a special-edition appearance package. Additionally, nearly every new car is now available with black wheels, or at least a design with a dark gray finish.
Here’s a look at all of the blacked-out trim packages currently on the market — with more likely to come.
Chevrolet: Blackout and Midnight
Chevrolet may not have been first to the table with its blackout package, but it somehow managed to secure the most obvious name — but only for one model so far. The Blackout package is new for the 2021 Silverado, and it does a heck of a job masking the ugliness accenting the bold styling of the automaker’s full-size pickup.
The Silverado LT Trailboss Midnight edition
Separately, Chevy offers a similar Midnight package on various versions of the midsize Colorado truck. The Midnight package includes black wheels and grilles but not the full turn-out-the-lights look of the Silverado Blackout.
The S appearance package has been a part of Chrysler’s lineup for a while now, and shoppers can expect to see blacked-out exterior trim and wheel finishes joined by special upholstery and other bits inside. The S package can be added to most trim levels of the 300 sedan and the Pacifica minivan. Yes, it’s possible to buy a plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) minivan with black trim. If you can find one.
Ford: Black Appearance Package
Ford’s Black Appearance Package on the Ranger features a black grille, running boards and wheels. It’s. Not. Black.
Behind the scenes at Ford
— an automaker definitely on the move with its new F-150 Lightning — there are still bean counters. How else can you explain the bland name for the black trim package on the Ranger and F-150 trucks?
At least the package ticks all the boxes, even extended to black mirror caps, running boards, and sill plates.
GMC: Elevation and Dark Accent Packages
GMC doesn’t offer a conventional blacked-out package, but the Sierra, Canyon, and Acadia Elevation trim levels trade chrome fender and rearview mirror garnishes and silver wheels for, you guessed it, black versions. Sierra trucks even offer an additional Black Package that, for a hefty $1,095, includes black GMC badges, running boards, and rubber floor mats.
On some of the automaker’s SUVs, a Dark Accent Package ($1,295 on the Terrain, which feels like highway robbery) swaps red GMC logos for black and adds a few other darkened touches. None of these hefty prices should surprise you since GMC was the first modern automaker to capitalize on a megabuck appearance package with its Denali versions.
Hyundai: Night Edition
The Kona Night Edition
has so far offered its blackout package on the Tucson and Kona SUVs. For 2022, a new Night Edition version of the upcoming, sporty-styled Sonata N-Line will arrive. There’s a lot to take in with this new sedan, which has the brand’s N-Line styling kit (think Audi S-Line) plus all of its chrome has taken a bath in black paint.
The Sonata N-Line Night Edition will also make its arrival in the summer action flick “Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins” this year.
The Altitude trim level offered on several Jeep models includes the expected black badges and wheels. Truthfully, the package seems at odds with Jeep’s rugged and outdoorsy positioning, but the cues really work on some models.
The 5-spoke black wheels and dark 7-slot grille trim dress up the quirky Cherokee, in particular. Additionally, Jeep has offered blackout trim on various versions of its Wrangler — and base models even come standard with black-painted steel wheels.
Kia: Telluride Nightfall
To be fair, Kia
does not need fancy packages to sell Telluride SUVs. The boxy 3-row ‘ute is one of the fastest-turning cars on dealer lots, and these days many shoppers are willing to pay over MSRP. For a Kia! If we had a time machine that took us to 1995, we’d laugh at everyone’s bowl cuts and then have an easier time convincing them that the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series than that people are willing to spend $15,000 just to buy a Kia.
The Kia Telluride
But the Telluride Nightfall does have an undeniable appeal. The package has a clean, simple look that includes a ton of black chrome bits, including the roof rails, faux skid plates, and even the inner headlight trim. For $1,295, it should be pretty comprehensive.
Mercedes-Benz Night Edition
Mercedes has offered blackout packages on a few of its models, most commonly less-expensive cars such as the GLA-Class. On that model, the German automaker charges $3,000 but tosses in some AMG styling bits and sports seats to help offset that big upcharge.
Oh, and of course Mercedes has long offered Black Series versions of its rortiest AMGs — but they’re not named so because of their blacked-out trim.
Nissan: Midnight Edition
may be the most prolific purveyor of blacked-out schemes. For the 2021 model year, just two models are offered with the package — the Armada SUV and the Frontier pickup truck. Ironically, the Frontier is Nissan’s oldest model, while the Armada was just refreshed.
In the past, Nissan has offered Midnight versions of everything from its Sentra to its Titan, so it’s safe to bet this package will stick around even longer.
Subaru: Onyx Edition
is just getting started with its blackout package, though it looks like it may be here to stay. First offered on the 2020 Outback as the Onyx XT, the package paired the expected black trim with techy, easy-clean upholstery that enhanced the model’s rugged feel. It also serves as the gateway to the turbocharged Outback, making it a good value.
For 2022, Subaru has extended the Onyx Edition to its big Ascent 3-row SUV.
Also see: Go topless: the 10 cheapest convertibles
Toyota: Nightshade Edition
The Toyota Sequoia Nightshade
Much like the Midnight Edition package available on a number of Nissan models, Toyota’s
version dresses up the automaker’s models with glossy black trim. The package has been offered on various models from the C-HR up to the Sienna minivan. It arguably works the best on the automaker’s overstyled sedans including the Avalon and Camry. These four-doors have a lot going on stylistically, and the black package tones down some of their busy lines.
And, hey, the package doesn’t make the Prius look any worse.
Toyota: Tacoma SR5 Trail Edition
Toyota’s new-for-2021 Trail Edition package on the Tacoma adds 16-inch alloy wheels from its TRD models plus matte black badges and a pair of lockable cooler bins that take up way too much of the bed. It’s not a conventional blackout package, but it includes the right wheels and badges, so there it is.
It’s impossible to predict the next automotive trend, though several brands have tried alternatives to chrome. For instance, Infiniti is currently toying with dark chrome that seems to split the difference between conventional bright and trendy black. Audi seems to be especially fond of matte silver that has a classic Hugo Boss suit-like appeal to it. And a few automakers have toyed with copper hues, particularly Genesis and BMW.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.