Here’s something you may not have noticed: The biggest new trend in the car world is not automated driving, or active safety features, or increasingly massive wheels that cost $9,000 to replace when you damage them on a pothole. The biggest new trend in the car world is split rear pillars. And many, many new cars have them.
I noticed this when I was walking around the New York Auto Show, photographing weird things on vehicles, more of which I will show you over the next few weeks. After a couple of split rear pillars, it seemed interesting. Then I kept looking, and I saw dozens of them. EVERYONE is splitting the rear pillars. EVERYONE!
What exactly do I mean by “split rear pillars”? Well, peruse the images above, and you’ll see precisely what I’m talking about. Vehicles formerly had their C- or D-pillars body-colored, with no break, and now they’re split by some piece of black plastic or other trim. It’s the latest styling element to make a car look fresh and cool, and virtually everyone is doing it — from the Range Rover (which basically started this trend decades ago) to the latest Hyundai and Kia models.
So why the split rear pillars? Style is certainly one reason, but I think it goes beyond that. In most cars, the giant body panel in back that contains the rear pillar is the biggest panel on the car — and it often goes from the roof over the windows and down the rear pillar, and covers the entire rear fender and rocker panels. My assumption is that many automakers are splitting up this panel to simplify the production process and cut their own costs, allowing them to create two smaller panels which are cheaper to make, cheaper to ship (to factories where cars are built) and cheaper to install.
Of course, this may not actually be the case, as I know some cars with split rear panels really are just incorporating the component for style and keeping their huge rear panel. But surely some aren’t. And regardless of the motives for doing it, you’ve heard it here first: The next “big thing” in the car world is a split rear pillar. Don’t be surprised if your next vehicle has it. Find a car for sale