In its annual celebration of automotive beauty that runs deep, Ward’s Auto has announced its 2015 10 best interiors list, and the magazine’s selections prove that quality interior design need not be limited to exclusive vehicles: this year’s list includes just two upscale models—the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW i3—with the balance covering a wide range of affordable vehicles.
Those two Germans share this year’s interior honours with the Jeep Renegade, Chrysler 300, Kia Sedona, Honda Fit, Ford F-150, GMC Canyon, Mazda6 and Nissan Murano.
While most of the models on this year’s list come with accessible base prices, we can’t help but notice that the actual vehicles on the list tend toward the high end of their respective options lists: for example, the Chrysler 300 included is the top-trim Platinum model, and the Ford F-150 pickup that made the list is a King Ranch model that retails for $70,000 in Canada. While it does recognize what could be argued are the best overall interiors in the industry, the appearance is that Ward’s evidently places as high a value on upscale finishes, rather than cars that include quality materials across the model range.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) scored two winners on this year’s list—not bad for a company that less than 10 years ago was building cars whose interiors were a joke in auto industry.
Chrysler’s big 300 was included on the 2012 best interiors list, and new features earned it a spot once again. The publication’s editors praised their Platinum-trim test car’s Nappa leather seats and leather-trimmed dash, calling the overall environment “dramatic and soothing.”
FCA’s other winner is the Jeep Renegade. Ward’s liked how the interior played tribute to Jeep’s heritage with design cues scattered through the interior, but said what really set the little Jeep apart was the “vibrant colour scheme” packaged in its test vehicle.
Ford’s F-150 King Ranch was one of two trucks on this year’s list, earning its place for a cabin Ward’s called “stylishly rugged, comfortable and spacious.” The other truck on the 2015 list, the GMC Canyon SLT (with a starting price of about $33,000), earned praise for its interior’s soft surfaces, upscale audio system, well-designed navigation interface, durable leather upholstery.
Honda’s Fit is the only true budget-priced car on this list, packaged in top-end EX-L trim, which retails for more than $23,000 in Canada. “Honda expertly realizes entry-level buyers don’t like to settle and instead prefer a unique, upscale alternative to the econobox,” said Ward’s editors of Honda’s smallest model.
Ward’s praised the BMW i3 for its “utility, use of recycle materials, and for breaking ground with clever new design elements,” calling the interior “beautiful while fitting with the offbeat exterior.”
Having recently tested the the Kia Sedona, I have to agree that the two-tone leather treatment and second-row lounge seating in the SX-L model are fetching, but come at a $41,000 pricetag that’s a far cry from Sedona’s $27,500 starting price.
Ward’s calls the Mazda6 a true near-luxury sedan thanks to interior upgrades that come as part of a 2016 model-year refresh. Notable upgrades include standard heated rear seats, a functional luxury that should boost the car’s appeal among Canadian buyers.
The Mercedes-Benz C 400 Ward’s tested came with $16,410 in optional equipment, of which Ward’s said most went toward “enhancing the experience in the cabin.” They go on to call the C 400’s interior one of the best among luxury cars, regardless of price.
Again, I’ll agree with Ward’s on their inclusion of the Murano here: its interior is lovely, with interesting trim materials that could have turned out cheesy, but instead help elevate this mid-range crossover’s environment.
Ward’s scores each vehicle on a variety of criteria, including materials, ergonomics, safety, comfort, value and fit-and-finish. User-friendliness and “esthetics and design harmony,” that last category being the most heavily-weighted when the votes are calculated.