Inside Report: 2015 Cars With The Coolest Cabins – Forbes

Posted: Saturday, April 18, 2015

For better or worse, the concept of luxury is being stretched rather thin in the automotive business these days. Entry-level models from some luxury brands now start at around $30,000, and even the most proletariat rides on the road treat their occupants to thoughtfully designed interiors trimmed with top-quality materials and can be packed with upscale amenities like heated leather seats and premium audio systems. So who’s complaining, right?

“It’s important that great interiors be available in every class of vehicle, not just luxury models that most consumers will never be able to afford,” says WardsAuto World Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter.

To that end, the models recently cited as 2015 Ward’s 10 Best Interiors award winners run the gamut in terms of size and vehicle type, with the most affordable among them being the Honda Fit subcompact hatchback, which starts at around $16,000 (though it approaches $22,000 as tested). Also included are three sedans, two pickup trucks, three crossover SUVs and a full-electric car, the BMW i3. All are dressed to impress and evoke a truly upscale look and feel, regardless of their sticker prices. We’re featuring them with full commentary in the accompanying slideshow.

In Pictures: 10 New Cars With The Best Interiors.

“In this year’s competition, we saw a lot of evidence that automakers are thinking creatively about interiors and putting a lot of design horsepower into not just luxury vehicles, but pickups, minivans and family sedans. And they are investing more in high-quality trim materials, electronic features and other details that will surprise and delight shoppers,” Winter says.

Ward’s editors evaluated 42 cars, trucks and crossovers during February and March and rated each model’s interior accommodations according to their overall design – especially its interior aesthetics and design harmony – as well as its materials, ergonomics, comfort, safety, value, fit-and-finish and the user-friendliness of a vehicle’s so-called human-machine interface.

For our money, the best of the best among Ward’s 2015 list is the redesigned-for-2015 Mercedes C-Class. A once stodgy small sedan now raises the proverbial bar high above its competitors with what are truly first-class passenger accommodations. Boldly designed and impeccably executed, the C-Class’ comely cabin tends to make other cars seem shoddy by comparison, or at least underdone. With many features coming directly from the compact sedan’s flagship sibling, the S-Class, Ward’s editors concluded, “you could pay a lot more for a luxury car, but it will be hard to find a nicer interior.”

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