As Wards editors prepare to select the 2019 10 Best Interiors, several noteworthy trends are apparent: Several new vehicles priced well below $30,000 offer impressive cabins; audio speaker grilles are becoming stylistic design elements; and glossy “piano black” trim is losing its luster.
For the first time, Wards will announce this year’s winners April 18 during the press days of the New York International Auto Show, arguably the most important auto show in the U.S. It is the biggest auto show in the U.S. by attendance and it’s becoming one of the top U.S. auto shows for the media, with 61 new vehicles debuting last year.
“In addition to the over 1 million consumers who visit our show each year – often shopping for their next new car or truck – we’re proud to host dozens of important industry programs during Press Preview Week,” says Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Assn., producers of the NYIAS. “The Wards 10 Best Interiors unveiling is the newest addition to the lineup, and we think it’s a perfect way to celebrate the best-of-the-best in automotive interiors.”
After the winners are announced April 18, automakers will receive their trophies May 9 during a ceremony at The WardsAuto Interiors Conference in Novi, MI.
“We were thrilled when the organizers of the New York auto show invited us to present the winners at this year’s event,” WardsAuto Managing Director Larry Schlagheck says. “They’re always looking for ways to build the show, and they thought we could add something special to it.”
This year’s field of nominees includes 33 vehicles with new or significantly redesigned interiors. Eight Wards editors in Southfield, MI, evaluated the vehicles in February and March and scored them on aesthetics, comfort, fit-and-finish, material quality and ergonomics. There is no price cap for entries, but value is a consideration.
This year, judges have noted several vehicles with glitzy speaker grilles – decorative design patterns that go well beyond the norm.
This trend can be seen in vehicles as diverse as the Kia Forte mass-market compact sedan, Toyota RAV4 midsize CUV (pictured below), the BMW 330i and Lexus ES 350 luxury sedans, and the Hyundai Palisade 3-row family-oriented CUV.
Another movement noted by our judges is the step up in quality design in vehicles under $30,000. The Honda Insight, Hyundai Veloster N, Kia Forte, Mazda3, Nissan Kicks, Toyota Corolla Hatchback and Volkswagen Jetta each have elements that just a few short years ago could only be found inside luxury vehicles.
One trend that seems to be abating, if slowly, is glossy black trim, aka piano black. Designers are using less of the material and focusing it on surfaces less likely to collect dust, fingerprints and scratches (i.e. not the center console).
In the 330i, BMW uses piano black to decorate the shifter, but around the center console it has a unique black and silver trim. On the Lexus ES 350’s center console, a striated black plastic is employed.
Details about the 2019 10 Best Interiors winners will be posted on WardsAuto.com the morning of April 18. Galleries and profiles about the winners will post before the May 9 WardsAuto Interiors Conference.