DETROIT -- Headlights, grilles and other doodads are stepping up and popping out on cars.Car bling is proliferating, from daytime running lights that go up the hood of the new Cadillac ATS, to a wide, bold grille on the Ford Fusion, to engraving within the lamps of the new Corvette and Ford Transit.It is inexpensive but distinctive, providing automotive eye candy that can even boost gas mileage or improve safety. Bling isn't new, but advancements in technology and design are allowing automakers to do more of it and move it from luxury cars into the mainstream."You've got form and function with the beauty," says IHS Automotive analyst Rebecca Lindland.The adornments are on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which opens to the public Jan. 19:Fetching etchingMom never advised looking into lights, but peering into the lamps of certain vehicles offers some aesthetic rewards: Tiny engravings are appearing inside, like figures inside a snow globe.Headlights in the splashy new Corvette feature the brand's crossed-flag logo, and the utilitarian Ford Transit offers Ford's Blue Oval logo contained in a seven-sided shape.Likewise, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee features a vintage miniature Jeep silhouette and the phrase, "Since 1941," referring to the year Jeeps began rolling out.IHS Automotive's Lindland says it's intriguing that designers are "laying this kind of jewelry in just that small spot" -- in the process attracting buyers and providing recognition on the road.Line of sightDistinctive lights abound, but a prime example graces the front of the new Cadillac ATS, a sport sedan.The car's daytime running lights go up the top of the fender along the hood line. They help contribute to an overall design that is angular and edgy.Those lights are helping Cadillac set itself apart from competitors, says Consumer Reports lead car tester, Jake Fisher.Hot off the grilleFord is heating up its grilles, particularly its Fusion model. The Fusion jettisoned the old, bulky shutters that go back years and embraced a wide, bold grille with numerous thin blades.Consumer Reports' Fisher says the grille helps the midsize family sedan "evoke the looks of an Aston-Martin" -- adding to the mystique and brand identity without adding to the bottom line.Ford hopes to finally surpass Toyota Camry's sales with the new Fusion, helped by a more aggressive-looking grille.The eyes have itThe tail lamps on the high-performance version of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee are tinted black, giving it an ominous look. Ralph Gilles, a Chrysler design leader, noted the lamps are "kind of like death."He says designers wanted to create something unique that "owners will love."The headlights on Land Rover's small SUV -- the Range Rover Evoque -- also give that vehicle "a bit more of the sinister look," according to IHS Automotive analyst Rebecca Lindland. The slim lamp also represents an advance in functionality.Stepping upThe 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck has a practical feature that breaks up the boring horizontal view of the bumper. There are two steps that make it easy to climb into the bed to fetch tools or tie down a load. The steps are inset into the corner of the bumpers, and even have treads to stop work shoes from slipping.The always-ready steps could give GM an advantage over others in an increasingly competitive pickup market.