Ward’s Auto has revealed the winners for its 10 Best Interiors for 2015. Only two of the winners are from luxury car manufacturers and the rest are from mainstream brands. This shows that non-luxury brands are making great progress in interior build quality, and it’s good news for customers who don’t have to spend a fortune to get a vehicle with a superb fit and finish, cutting-edge technology, and excellent levels of refinement. The most important category in the Ward’s Auto evaluation is aesthetic and design harmony, which assesses how well the interior color schemes work and complement the car’s exterior styling, as well as how well the overall design can sell the vehicle. The winners:
2014 BMW i3
The BMW i3’s interior is built using recycled materials and the leather upholstery is tanned using olive-leaf extract. Lightweight materials include aluminum, carbon fiber, and magnesium. Depending on the powertrain configuration, the i3 weighs 2,860 pounds without the optional range extender and 3,130 pounds with it.
2014 BMW – Motor Trend Perspective:
“The interior isn’t the usual dark, brooding, uber-serious German hunting cabin, but a place of bright, playful fun. Atop its wave-shaped dash are twin, freestanding displays. They essentially perform the same duties as BMW’s current two dash-imbedded ones, but perch airily like a couple Kindle Fires on little stands. Neat.”
2015 Chrysler 300C Platinum
Refreshed for 2015, the Chrysler 300 continues to be one of the best large near-luxury sedans available. The car features a roomy interior constructed with high-quality materials and an infotainment system that’s user-friendly. Both V-6 and V-8-powered 300s are now mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that improves fuel economy and acceleration.
2015 Chrysler 300C – Motor Trend Perspective:
“The next largest small change stares you in the face. The new instrument cluster shows clear influence from the all-new Chrysler 200 and adds a great deal of functionality. The dials remain watch-like in appearance, but they’re now split by a 7.0-inch customizable display that provides the driver with far more information that’s much clearer and easier to read.
The new 300’s improvements aren’t all mechanical, either. Inside, the quality of materials has risen even further than the existing car, and the fit and finish is impeccable. The optional contrasting color schemes add a visual pop not found in the competition. Extra charge-only USB ports in the rear will be greatly appreciated in device-heavy households.”
2015 Ford F-150 King Ranch
One of the biggest changes is that the 2015 F-150 is constructed mainly of aluminum to reduce overall weight. A twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 with 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque enables the truck to tow up to 8,500 pounds when properly equipped. In higher trim levels such as the King Ranch and Platinum (pictured here), the F-150’s interior features luxury-car levels of equipment and fit and finish. Real wood interior accents, heated front and second rows, ventilated and massaging front seats, Ford Sync with navigation and an 8-inch touchscreen, and a 360-degree view camera are available.
2015 Ford F-150 – Motor Trend Perspective:
“Finished in Ingot Silver Metallic with black leather interior, our 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 SuperCrew features equipment once reserved for luxury brands, including heated, cooled, and massaging front seats, heated rear seats, memory driver seat, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, real wood interior trim, dual-zone climate, power-folding, heated side mirrors, push-button/remote start, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and power adjustable pedals. Other standard features on the Platinum trim include navigation with Sync and 8-inch touchscreen, power tailgate lock and remote tailgate release, locking removable tailgate, power sliding two-piece rear window, power running boards, and a pair of 110V, 400W outlets. With the exception of the foglights, the F-150 Platinum comes with full LED exterior and interior lighting including the headlights, taillights, and bed lighting.”
“The attention to detail lavished on this moneymaker is impressive. Every square millimeter of chrome in the interior was computer sculpted to prevent large reflections from dazzling the driver’s eye, and every light-up switch and display is angled so as to prevent it from reflecting in the side glass at night.”
2015 GMC Canyon SLT
Essentially the Chevrolet Colorado‘s upscale twin, the GMC Canyon features better interior material quality and improved sound insulation. A 4G LTE Connection is available via OnStar subscription and the Canyon comes with a 3GB/three-month trial. GMC‘s IntelliLink infotainment system features Apple text message support, Siri Eyes Free, and an 8-inch touchscreen. Despite weighing more than 4,000 pounds, the Canyon is nimble and light on its feet, making it easy and enjoyable to drive.
2015 GMC Canyon – Motor Trend Perspective:
“The new Canyon is a solid little truck that’s a ton of fun to drive and the right size for everything but hauling a gooseneck trailer. It not only drives well empty but also while loaded and trailering and does it all while being anywhere from a little bit to a lot more plush than anything else in the segment.”
2015 Honda Fit EX-L
Despite its small footprint, the 2015 Honda Fit has one of the roomiest and most flexible interiors among subcompact cars. The second-row Magic Seats enable four different interior configurations to accommodate up to five passengers or items of different heights, lengths, and sizes. Improved cabin materials have made the Fit’s interior a better place to spend time in while the infotainment system comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, an optional navigation system, and supports smartphone apps including Aha Internet radio. A rearview camera is standard across all models, while Honda‘s nifty LaneWatch system, which shows your right side blind spot on the touchscreen, is available on the EX and EX-L trims.
2015 Honda Fit – Motor Trend Perspective:
“Honda has resisted all the tempting Band-Aids and instead taken the Fit’s celebrated DNA and painstakingly evolved it into a smarter, more solid, and far more sophisticated fourth generation. It’s reflected in its styling, which has matured out of its happy guppy phase into a proper, adult-looking, mini-Honda. Ditto the interior: Attractive (and functional) details are everywhere, all composed of impressive materials for its mildly higher price point, and highlighted by a standard back-up camera and available 7-inch multi-touch screen populated with an early offering of apps such as Aha Internet radio, and navigation.”
2015 Jeep Renegade Limited
The Fiat 500X‘s American cousin, the Jeep Renegade features throwback styling inside and out. Even though it’s the cheapest and smallest Jeep, the Renegade has a roomy cabin built with high-grade materials, and the controls for the multimedia interface, Selec-Terrain system, and all-wheel-drive lock are well positioned and within the driver’s reach. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats improve interior gives the Renegade more interior flexibility when carrying cargo and passengers.
2015 Jeep Renegade – Motor Trend Perspective:
“From a packaging perspective, the Renegade is a pretty neat little Jeep. The cabin is bigger than expected, the materials all feel high-quality, and all the controls in the center stack, including the all-wheel-drive lock and Selec-Terrain switches, are within easy reach. The seats are comfortable up front and in back, and the 40/20/40 rear seats are plenty roomy for adult passengers.”
2015 Kia Sedona SXL
Looking more like a luxury car for executives than a minivan, the Kia Sedona‘s interior is one of the most upscale in its class. The optional second row captain’s chairs provide supreme levels of comfort and are inspired by first class cabins on trans-Pacific flights. They recline as well as slide fore and aft and side to side. SXL models come with two-tone Nappa leather upholstery, real wood accents, and a user-friendly infotainment system.
2015 Kia Sedona – Motor Trend Perspective:
“The Kia Sedona is the clear choice for childless buyers. The newest van in the segment had the nicest cabin of the bunch, thanks to Nappa leather, real wood, and a segment-best infotainment system. Behind the front seats, the Kia has one of the most comfortable second rows of the group. Though complicated, the second row’s captain’s chairs have leg rests and the ability to both recline and slide fore and aft and side to side, giving the second row the best seats in the house.”
2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring
After going through a thorough interior revision for its 2016 refresh, the Mazda6 now has one of the most upscale interiors in its class, featuring high-quality materials and a tasteful design. The old 5.8-inch touchscreen has been replaced by the Mazda Connect infotainment interface, which features a 7-inch touchscreen, an improved navigation system, and smartphone app compatibility. White and black leather upholstery with contrasting red stitching is also available in the range-topping Grand Touring trim. An optional Technology package for the Grand Touring model adds a host of safety aids, active grille shutters, and i-Eloop brake energy regeneration system, allowing the Mazda6 to achieve a class-leading 28/40 mpg city/highway.
2016 Mazda6 – Motor Trend Perspective:
“The ‘6 proved the most comfortable and ergonomically sound, providing the preferred command center whether sitting still and fiddling with the controls or weaving aggressively through a twisty road. The Mazda fits you, not vice versa.
“Everything about this car is smooth and fluid. The way the steering comes off center, the way the suspension eases the chassis into corners, the way the throttle picks up, the way the brakes engage, the way it handles transitions. It’s perfect.” Jurnecka: “The steering is sublime, especially for this class. Weighting is just spot-on, and there’s a great amount of feel and precision. ‘Little’ things like this really make a huge difference in how a car feels.” The Mazda imparts a sense of gracefulness and driver-connectedness that is deficient in the others.
2015 Mercedes-Benz C400
Ever since it handed the entry-level position to the CLA-Class, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has evolved into a compact-sized S-Class, featuring an opulent interior that’s well-built and a class above the competition. Features from the S-Class that found their way to the C-Class include the Burmester premium sound system, cabin perfumer, and the knurled knob controls for the COMAND infotainment system. A touchpad above the COMAND wheel adds redundant controls, pinch-to-zoom functionality for navigation maps, and enables quicker entry of Chinese characters.
2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 – Motor Trend Perspective:
“What immediately stands out when you’re behind the wheel of the 2015 C-Class is the interior. For cabins at this price point, it is revolutionary. Those of you fortunate enough to have spent time inside the new W222 S-Class will be immediately familiar with the surroundings. Shared between the two are the S-Class’ Eames Chair-look seat controls, the fancy Burmester speaker grilles, the cabin perfumer, the knurled Command wheel, the round, pearl-necklace air vents, the heavy-duty, high-quality switchgear and high-res, user-friendly graphics in the nav screen.”
2015 Nissan Murano SL
The 2015 Nissan Murano’s interior provides excellent space for passengers and cargo without sacrificing style. Built with high-quality materials and styled with plenty of upscale touches such as the Jasper Pearlescent white accents on the doors, the Murano’s cabin comes with plenty of sophistication. Available tech features include standard navigation system with an 8-inch touchscreen on all but the base S model, around view monitor, and NissanConnect with Mobile Apps, which allows access to smartphone apps such as Pandora Internet radio.
2015 Nissan Murano – Motor Trend Perspective:
“Inside, the 2015 Murano is a fine place to spend your commute. Unique Jasper Pearlescent white trim appears on the doors, in a strip across the dash, and even down the middle of the central armrest for the driver and front passenger. (Brushed silver trim is also available.) Ambient lighting is well-executed, with some adjustable-intensity LED light appearing from beneath a panel on either side of the center console, on the front doors, and, for rear-seat passengers, at the back of the front-seat center armrest.”