By Chris Haak
New-vehicle interior design and materials have come a long way since the dark, Tupperware/Fisher-Price days of the 1990s. When once hard plastic and no adornment was the norm, we now live in a world where a compact Chevrolet has been recognized as one of the ten best interiors among all 2011 models sold in the US. Spoken as someone who spent over 100,000 miles behind the wheel of the Cruze’s ancestors (the Grand Am and Achieva), that alone is nearly remarkable news. For 2011, Ward’s reported that there were a record 51 nominees for their top-ten list.
Each year, Ward’s doles out its interior awards “based on materials, ergonomics, safety, the human-machine interface, comfort, fit-and-finish, overall value and aesthetics.” All of those criteria are relevant ones when determining whether an interior is a good one or not. The value message is important, because as I’ve noted on this site before, it’s much more challenging to balance the tradeoffs inherent in a $20,000 car’s interior than in one with a larger budget, like the Bentley Mulsanne. Without further ado, here’s the list of winners: