Automakers are slaving attention on their cars’ and trucks’ passenger compartments like never before.
While sleek exterior styling may catch one’s eye on the street or in a dealer’s showroom, having to spend an hour at a time sitting in an inferior interior during a grueling commute can quickly take the gloss off that new-car shine. Fortunately automakers are paying extra attention to their vehicles’ cabins these days, incorporating more alluring designs, with richer looking materials and greater attention to detail.
“It wasn’t uncommon all that long ago for automakers to view interiors as the best place to take cost out of a vehicle,” says Drew Winter, editor-in-chief of the industry magazine WardsAuto World. “They eventually figured out that’s a big mistake, because people spend a lot more time looking at the inside of their car than the outside.”
Honoring the best interior designs from among a field of 46 new or significantly redesigned vehicles, the editors at WardsAuto World recently announced their annual list of 10 Best Interiors of 2013. While there was no price cap on entries, the lowest-cost model cited – the Chevrolet Spark at around $16,000 – shows just how far automakers are going to provide a rewarding vehicular experience to drivers with even modest budgets.
“This year’s batch of winners really drives home the point that interiors are a vital part of the battle for consumers’ hearts and minds,” Winter says.
Editors drove the vehicles during their daily commutes and rated each model’s interior accommodations according to their overall design, materials, ergonomics, comfort, safety, value, fit-and-finish and user friendliness, particularly with regard to the ability to link mobile phones and access vehicle information.
Here are the 10 models Wards cited as having the most alluring interiors, with our own commentary:
• Acura RDX. This compact crossover SUV’s leather-clad cabin is cleanly and efficiently designed, with most systems easily operated by analog buttons and dials instead of an overly complex multimedia system.
• Cadillac XTS. The largest Cadillac sedan on the lot blends classic finishes and luxurious touches throughout its expansive interior, including subtle ambient lighting and attractive accent stitching on the leather-wrapped dashboard.
• Chevrolet Spark. Unlike other so-called “minicars,” the Spark comes with a useable back seat that can accommodate two adult riders; the interior is otherwise well designed with high-quality materials that belie the vehicle’s low sticker price.
• Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. This midsize crossover SUV features a nicely crafted cockpit that affects a certain winged appearance, with tasteful aluminum-look trim adding visual appeal.
• Kia Forte. A redesigned Kia Forte adds some welcome visual pizzazz, particularly in the vehicle’s roomy interior, which includes details like “shark’s gills” carved into the front door panels and the faux carbon fiber trim.
• Lexus GS 450h. The hybrid version of Lexus’ midsize luxury sport sedan features a sumptuous interior that coddles its occupants with rich black leather and genuine wood trim, both on the dashboard and the steering wheel.
• Mazda6. The latest generation of this midsize sedan features a clean-yet-sporty looking interior, with straightforward gauges, subtle metal-look trim and deep burgundy accents to offset its optional black leather upholstery.
• Nissan Pathfinder. Nice touches in this midsize crossover SUV’s attractive interior include Berber carpet floor mats and “Latch and Glide” second-row captain’s chairs that afford easy access to the third row.
• Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn. This extravagant full-size pickup comes all gussied up with top-shelf western-embroidered premium saddle leather seats and dashboard trim that can make even a city dweller feel like a ranch owner.
• Toyota Avalon. Redesigned for 2013, this full-size sedan features a stylish new wood and metal-trimmed interior with a gracefully cast driver-focused dashboard that places all controls easily at hand.
© CTW Features