Acura RDX ($43,520)
We asked Acura for this last year and need to ask again for one central display screen, not two. It’s twice the distraction.
Audi A4 ($54,275)
Audi is back on its A-game with outstanding interiors. A4 was in the hunt along with Audi Q7 and TTS.
Audi A6 ($55,775)
Layered walnut wood decorative inlays still lovely, but without Virtual Cockpit the A6 lagged behind others.
Audi Q7 ($72,875)
Good visibility, easy management of systems; everything in rightful place; finger-writing scratchpad pretty cool.
Audi S7 ($95,525)
Features excellent materials, but even at this price point the S7 can’t compete with newer Audi interiors.
Audi TTS ($58,500) WINNER
Checks all our boxes for functionality, connectivity, fit-and-finish, style and comfort. This is the interior of tomorrow.
BMW 340i ($58,420)
Bluetooth pairing is fast and user-friendly; no trouble linking to Pandora; can read text messages to driver.
BMW 650i ($91,500)
Interesting and adventurous butterscotch leather, but lack of driver-assistance features knocks it from contention.
BMW 750i ($129,245) WINNER
All first-rate, from rich leather and touch-sensitive controls to second-row executive lounge seating and innovative gesture controls.
Buick Cascada ($37,385)
Not a bad second row for 2-door convertible, but human-machine interface is outdated relative to newer GM models.
Expensive, yes, until factoring in cost of two great massages daily, for four occupants; voice activation works great.
Cadillac XT5 ($63,845) WINNER
Understated wood inlays, combined with microsuede and Maple Sugar leather, make for a sweet combination.
Chevrolet, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai
Chevrolet Camaro ($46,095) WINNER
What’s black and white, and red all over? This high-contrast Camaro interior, with crimson ambient lighting. Stunning.
Chevrolet Malibu ($34,285)
Difficult to like a black interior with oddly complex lines, but 2-tone gray color scheme is slightly better.
Chevrolet Volt ($39,850)
Boldly black-and-tan, like a good beer, but manual seat adjustments seem out of place in Premium trim package.
Chrysler Pacifica ($48,455) WINNER
Gorgeous colors, wonderfully trimmed, loaded with safety electronics, active noise control. It doesn’t suck, but Stow ’n Vac does.
Fiat 500X ($31,800)
Well-executed finishes and textures, but navigation screen is tiny and hard to manage, with slow touch-response time.
Ford Focus ($28,045)
Third-generation Sync connectivity represents massive improvement; but rest of interior mostly carries over.
Honda Accord ($35,400)
Competitive interior that needs to push more boundaries; we’re warming to right-side blindspot camera.
Honda Civic ($27,335) WINNER
Excellent seats, great design, with hints of performance and luxury; Civic has really grown up.
Honda HR-V ($26,720)
Cramped second row and cheap dark plastic in center console; certainly not a materials showcase.
Excellent access to third row, and adults fit OK back there; good interior that meets most buyer needs.
Hyundai Elantra ($27,710)
Great ADAS and electronics but overall can’t hold a candle to Civic interior. Why are Hyundai interiors going downhill?
Hyundai Tucson ($31,110)
Not inventive or particularly stylish. This could be any CUV from any automaker – not much of a brand statement.
Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes, Mini, Mitsubishi
Kia Optima ($36,615)
Lots of backseat head and leg room, except for adults in middle seat; diamond-quilt leather makes up for it.
Lexus ES ($39,853)
Lacks blindspot detection, which should be standard in luxury cars. Aesthetically dull, even with black and cream color combo.
Lexus LX ($96,905)
Fetching burgundy leather with white stitching; Second-row footwell and third-row seats are oddly cramped for such a big vehicle.
Lexus RX ($52,968) WINNER
This black-and-white cabin works well and other wood-and-color offerings are even better; it raises bar for Lexus interiors.
Lincoln MKX ($67,020)
Revel Ultima audio system rocks, as do dual storage bins under center stack, but adaptive cruise control quits at low speed.
Bold colors can’t compensate for several fit-and-finish problems; flimsy armrest blocks center cupholders and access to controller.
Mazda MX-5 Miata ($33,120)
Red stitching and door trim are sharp accents; people buy Miata for driving, don’t need a dazzling interior.
Mercedes GLC ($54,360) WINNER
Competitively price but heated steering wheel would be nice; slick animation when cycling through digital owner’s manual.
Mercedes AMG GLE63 S ($123,835)
Tremendous balance between comfort and sportiness, but it feels dated without Mercedes’ new multimedia interface.
Mini Cooper S Clubman ($39,550)
Chesterfield Indigo leather is stunning, especially with diamond quilting and burgundy piping; seats heat up quickly.
Mitsubishi Outlander ($33,095)
Clever fold-flat second row, but this CUV isn’t big enough for seven; third-row head restraints dangerously close to rear glass.
Nissan, Porsche, Ram, Scion, Toyota, VW, Volvo
Nissan Altima ($32,595)
Staff divided on whether creamy decorative plastic trim is handsome or cheap; front edge of headliner is frayed.
Nissan Maxima ($38,750) WINNER
Wonderful attention to detail, innovative thinking, bold colors and knurled metallic trim truly stand out.
Nissan Titan XD ($63,270)
Extra points for nicely finished seatbacks and remote light check for trailering, but faux woodgrain film is disappointing.
Porsche Macan S ($73,320)
Artistic use of carbon-fiber trim on IP and doors, but Porsche’s next-generation interior needs fewer buttons.
Ram Rebel ($53,275)
Cabin for buyer who considers himself a rebel; tire-tread textured seat fabric enhances off-road image; hot red accents very cool.
Scion iA ($16,470)
Sophisticated interface makes this a well-connected car; Toyota does good job dressing up a budget-minded compact.
Scion iM ($20,334)
Good-looking interior at great-looking price; would have been in contention if Scion brand weren’t on death row.
Toyota Prius Four ($33,125)
Risky play sandwiching porcelain-white center console between black fabric seats; please pass the Oreos.
Toyota RAV4 ($35,245)
Roomy second row and cavernous cargo hold; butterscotch and black a fine combo; seat comfort on par with Lexus RX.
Toyota Tacoma ($36,630)
Poor fit-and-finish and cheap plastic manual gear shifter looks ancient; orange trim on IP is cool but out of place.
Spacious, well-executed interior for five in this German car, built in America; high-quality materials throughout.
Volvo XC90 Hybrid ($84,005) WINNER
Top-notch materials: leather, aluminum, crystal, even high-grade plastics; same interior available in less-expensive non-hybrid.