Ward’s has just released its “10 Best Interiors” list for 2011. Although better known for its “10 Best Engines” list, the trade publication has ranked its favorite automotive interiors since 2005. This list is made up of cars from various manufacturers and classes, and features the 10 cars Ward’s believes to have the best interiors of the year. To be considered for the list, cars must either be all-new or significantly altered for 2011. Editors at Ward’s drove 51 vehicles in order to come up with this list, narrowing down the list to just 10 over the course of two months.
Luxury brands were well represented on the list, with the 2011 Audi A8 and BMW X3 xDrive35i both making the distinguished top 10. Editors especially liked the wood and suede accents inside the A8, featured heavily in the door panels and seat backs. They also complimented the A8’s Multimedia Interface controller for its ease of use. Ward’s editors also liked the wood trim present in the BMW X3, calling the color scheme “tastefully executed.” Another highlight is the X3’s improved iDrive controller, which is reportedly more intuitive to use.
While you’d expect a couple of luxury cars on a list of top-notch interiors, there were a surprising number of economy cars that also made the cut. Among them is the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze 2LT RS, which was praised for its use of soft materials, higher-quality plastics, and with the 2LT’s well-bolstered leather seats. The 2012 Ford Focus Titanium also made the list, earning high marks for its neatly laid out center console and attractive interior color schemes. Rounding out the list’s economy car contingent is the 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited. Speaking of the Elantra’s interior layout, Ward’s says Hyundai is “finding its own unique interior design language,” noting the instrument panel itself “displays a curvaceous sensuality.”
Also included in the list is the 2011 Dodge Charger Rallye Plus. The publication liked the look of the Charger’s interior, taking notice of the red seats, matte-finish metallic trim and sporty gauges. Another Chrysler product — the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit — was lauded for extensive use of tan leather trim, which reportedly evoked images of the outdoors. The 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite was also named a favorite, due at least in part to its spacious cargo area and surplus of cupholders (10 in total). Editors also liked the spacious third-row seat, along with the two-tier storage bins located in the front doors.
Finishing up the list are two all-new sedans, the 2011 Volvo S60 and 2011 Kia Optima EX. Ward’s calls the S60 “a study in Scandinavian serenity,” lauding its angular door panels and floating center stack. The Optima’s stylish cabin surprised editors with its features, including heated and cooled leather seating and an expansive panoramic sunroof.
What say you — what’s your favorite automotive interior currently on the market? Send your nominations to us via the comments section below.