Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Tesla's snub-nose models project a modern "anti-grille" attitude as a rebuke to gasoline rivals, but that look is aging.
Some analysts and designers think the newly available real estate should be more than a blank space.
Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit, compares the industry's new exploration of grilles to the design challenge automakers faced to comply with bumper regulations in the mid-1970s.
"It is interesting watching the industry adapt functional changes into car design," Brinley said. "Often, the initial efforts are clumsy, but it gets stronger over time.
"What does not change in the grille transition is that it still creates a face that communicates the personality of the vehicle and still has to deliver a credible brand story. Whether that brand story includes 100 years of history or is one of new beginnings and just starting out, people need to be able to see it and identify it."
Lucid is a new EV brand with none of the design baggage of traditional automakers. Brinley sees the horizontal light bar across the front fascia of Lucid's Air sedan, along with its lower cooling vent, as futuristic and premium.
In contrast, the Mustang Mach-E electric crossover must communicate a link between Ford Motor Co.'s storied past and its bright future. Ford has chosen an oval-ish shape, done in body color, with black accents for the grille area in its mainstream versions. But the high-performance GT gets a fully blacked-out piece that is textured to simulate vent intakes.
"Ford's mission with the Mach-E is to get people comfortable with an EV," Brinley said, "as well as taking Mustang heritage into the crossover space."