Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Obviously Absent Driving Lights

Bumper and fascia mounted driving lights have been “a thing” since at least as far back as Pontiac’s love affair with them in the 1980s. Nowadays, almost every car model is available with driving lights as an optional extra, but very few include them as standard equipment on their base model. This presents a quandary for the design team: how do you make them easily installed on the line, but simultaneously design around their absence? The most elegant solution (such as with my wife’s Chrysler 300) is to have two completely different bumper skins: one with driving light sockets, another with a smooth face. Some cars fit oddly-shaped driving lights into flowing, sculptural openings that don’t look terribly odd or out of place with a plastic block-off panel in place.
But some vehicles are not so lucky, especially trucks and SUVs. The tacky approach is to simply blank off the (usually) round opening. The front end of the vehicle screams “I didn’t pony up for the optional driving lights!” To me, the pre-facelift Honda Element (above) has always been one of the most obvious offenders, but there are plenty more with these hauntingly blank eye sockets, from subcompacts to full-size SUVs. How many can you name?
Difficulty: A pop-up fly to center field. I know you’ve got this, Bro.
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Image Source: cargurus.com

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  1. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    2005-08 Toyota Matrix w/o the “fog lights”

    1. LEROOOY Avatar

      I always thought the base version of this was a really great-looking car compared to the higher-trim levels and their silly boy-racer body kits. If this one lost the wheel covers and reveled in its steel-wheeled glory, I would hoon it.

      1. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

        I agree, the XRS and XR body kits were a bit much, It’s why I preferred the Pontiac version. At least that body kit was relatively cohesive, even if it was gray Play-doh.

  2. Hatchtopia Avatar

    They’re vents! yeaaahhh, that’s the ticket!

  3. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    When the Camry was updated for 2002, only the SE had fog/driving lights. The LE and (much to the chagrin of the buyers of) the XLE did not even have them as options. This was rectified for 2003 when it became standard on the XLE as well.

  4. Citric Avatar

    This generation of Nissan Altima is weird because they’re so inset even when they’re installed they kinda look like they’re not there.

    1. JayP Avatar

      Ah, Yes.

  5. Citric Avatar

    Here’s a weird one:
    Why is it weird? The Ford Windstar of this generation had a few possible bumper skins, and the other one hid the location of the fog lights pretty effectively. So naturally they stopped using it for the base model.

  6. James Avatar

    Nissan is a terrible culprit of this.

  7. JayP Avatar

    2001 Bullitt had the foglight delete with the GT bumper cover- which was the V6 bumper cover with the slats cut out. But the GT still had the wiring for the lights and I think may have had the proper light switch. Addling lights was a popular update for the Bullitt folks.

  8. engineerd Avatar

    The Explorer Sport and Sport Trac were egregious.

  9. Citric Avatar

    Driving to work, realized that cop Tahoes have all sorts of lights, but none in the designated driving light spot.
    As an aside, when I was in America last summer I was constantly braking for Tahoes. People actually buy them there! Where I live, if you see a Tahoe – especially in white – it’s almost always a cop.

  10. Scoff Law Avatar
    Scoff Law

    2000-2009 Kia Sorento, my dad has one of these and I shudder every time I look at those blanked off holes…

    1. Vairship Avatar

      It’s also very VERY refrigerator white. Would it have killed them to have, say, the bumpers in grey to give some contrast?

  11. IronBallsMcG Avatar

    My girlfriend’s 2nd gen Durango is afflicted. This isn’t her’s, but it might as well be. That thing makes my heart hurt.

  12. Vavon Avatar

    You want the base model 307, okay, we’ll make sure everybody knows!

  13. Tomsk Avatar

    For much of the WRX’s history, Subaru has offered Japanese buyers a stripper “Type RA” version without driving/fog lights (among other things). Their omission was particularly obvious on the first-gen models.

  14. irishzombieman Avatar

    I grew up in old Wagoneers and Jeep trucks. The only one I recall seeing that had this front end AND extra lights was one my dad put together after I asked him why all of the three older Goners and the older truck just had blanks.

  15. dr zero Avatar
    dr zero

    My car has a pair of these particularly hideous blanks:

  16. mrh1965 Avatar

    I see a large number of Kia Soul’s driving around with no fogs.
    let me figure out how to post an image on this newfangled comments board

    1. mrh1965 Avatar

      Got it.

        1. ptschett Avatar

          Egads. That black plastic expanse between the headlights. I have to ask, is this the Harlan Ellison special, “I Have No Grille, And I Must Scream” edition?

        2. mrh1965 Avatar

          Shoot, I am an idiot. Thank you.

  17. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    AE 100 Series Corollas Sedans and Wagons had no fog lights and no space for them, but the three and five door hatches had different bumper mouldings with removeable blanks where they could be fitted in.
    Putting the hatch bumper on the four doors is a popular upgrade

    1. ptschett Avatar

      …and now I’m wondering why there’s a stalagmite-like, icicle-looking spear pointing up from the left-front bumper corner on the top image’s car. (Maybe it’s Elsa’s Toyota?)

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        Common on J.D.M. cars. They provide a marker for the edge of the car, like a little flagpole and are illuminated by a bulb at the base so that the ‘stalagmite’ glows at night

  18. ptschett Avatar

    The 2005 Dodge Dakota in base-model ST trim (1st picture) had a double-whammy, with a cheap-looking mass of grey plastic and ‘louvers’ in the fog light holes. Midrange SLT’s at least had fog lights and chrome trim to dress up the ugly greyness; SLT Sport models were better with a body-color bumper with fog lights and no chrome trim, and top-line Laramies like mine (2nd picture) got a body-color bumper with fog lights and the chrome trim.

  19. salguod Avatar

    Mazda actually did pretty well with the Protege. My daughter’s came without fog lights, like this:
    After an, uh, incident and a trip to the PickNPull, she ended up with non-functional fogs, like this:

  20. CSM Avatar

    Uhm, how about designers quit including driving lights in their designs? They are entirely unnecessary.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      But…but…they’re extra! An option! So they must be an improvement!

    2. GTXcellent Avatar

      This is the type of comment that really agitates me. CSM, I don’t know your personal situation at all, but I can make a pretty solid inference that you live in a heavily populated urban/suburban area where the streets are wide, heavily traveled, and well light.
      Well, I don’t. I live in a very rural area. The few paved roads here are 2 lanes, and at night the only light provided is from the moon. We have a more deer than residents, and don’t even get me started on the wolves, coyotes, fox, bears, raccoons, skunks, etc. etc. etc. I ALWAYS have my fog/driving lights on as they do a great job of shining low and wide and provide much more light in the ditches. In the winter we have almost constantly blowing snow, and the fog lights do not reflect off the snow the way hi-beams do.
      I know I sound like a condescending “Richard” here, but please don’t tell me that fog lights are entirely unnecessary. I will NEVER daily drive a vehicle that doesn’t have them.

      1. CSM Avatar

        Point taken…..I live in LA. I am now shutting up.

        1. GTXcellent Avatar

          Sorry. I just re-read my post. I didn’t mean to come down on you like that. I guess I’m just over sensitive to blanket comments stating something is entirely unnecessary. Things like 4 wheel drive, snow plows or fog lights are probably unnecessary for someone living in Atlanta, or Dallas, or LA – but not everywhere. I’ll now step down off my soap box

  21. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    How about the opposite direction? The early oughts Subaru WRX STI had STI logo-ed covers in place of the fog lights used on lesser WRX models.

    1. mrh1965 Avatar

      My 128i has fog/driving lights whereas the 135i does not.