The 2021 Wards 10 Best Interiors are being revealed in random, non-alphabetical order one per day until Oct. 15. This is the first winner profile. Winners will receive their trophies Nov. 16 during Automotive TechWeek in Novi, MI.
In the Wards 10 Best Interiors competition, so often judges are evaluating vehicle interiors that are over-the-top in their appearance – “blingy” if you will – with copious amounts of shiny surfaces and bright and/or rich colors.
Don’t get us wrong, there’s a place for those kind of interiors in our competition, as you will see as additional winners are revealed.
But many judges found the more modern take on luxury inside the Ford Mustang Mach-E (pictured, left), a refreshing change, so much so that it makes the 2021 Wards 10 Best Interiors list.
Ford’s new battery-electric vehicle technically isn’t a luxury CUV.
But with its sleek ivory-and-black cabin and minimal switchgear, the Mach-E’s interior reads luxurious upon first (and second and third) glance.
Our $56,200 Premium all-wheel-drive grade’s cabin (pictured below) is filled with soft, fine-grained faux leather, covering upper doors and the instrument panel. The leatherette is decorated largely with monotone vs. contrast stitching for a cleaner look, although on the black center armrest/box lid ivory stitching runs along the edges.
Hard plastic trim is plentiful, but it is matte instead of shiny, and wears a technical grain vs. the ubiquitous heavy leather-grained hard plastic trim seen in most vehicle interiors, including premium models.
Even the showier elements of the Mach-E’s cabin lean subtle. A cool, black-and-white check-patterned fabric (fabric being a European trend we’ve noticed appearing more and more in American vehicles) wraps parts of the IP and door trim.
A basketweave pattern is molded into the removable liners inside cupholders, as well as on the wireless phone-charging pad. And aluminum-look trim wraps volume and gear-selector knobs.
Shiny, piano-black trim is minimally applied, appearing along the top edges of the center console.
Other trim pieces have a handsome, carbon-fiber look.
Not only does the new Mach-E’s interior look good, it’s functional too.
Judges praised what switchgear is here, including the large central control knob at the bottom center of the touchscreen, as well as the easy-to-reach steering wheel-mounted buttons for ADAS technology.
The huge, 15.5-in. (39-cm) vertical, high-resolution touchscreen is the most blingy element inside the vehicle, playing a lengthy animation with a glowing Mustang logo upon entry into the cabin. But it’s not just a wow feature; it’s large app tiles also make it easy to use – and make hitting your intended choice virtually guaranteed.
A design and functional feature, the center armrest doesn’t latch onto the box below. Rather, it floats a few inches above it, meaning one can slide a hand inside to grab something without performing the annoying and potentially distracting movement of unlocking the lid and flipping it up to access items inside the box.
Technology-wise, smartphone pairing is incredibly fast and the onboard voice assistant understood virtually all of our audio and navigation commands, even when we went off script.
Our judges find seats comfortable, both in the front and in the rear of the Mach-E. Says judge Bob Gritzinger: “One of the most surprising things about the Mach-E is that it has usable rear seats,” a nod to the fact that backseat comfort never has been a strong point of the Mustang coupe.
And, despite a lot of tricky shapes on the door inners and dash, fit-and-finish is very good, with nary a flub found.
“Love the look. This is the sharpest BEV interior yet – modern without being too spartan,” summarizes judge Dave Zoia of the Mach-E’s cabin.
Gritzinger concurs: “The fabric across the upper instrument panel, combined with carbon-fiber look trim and white leatherette makes for a sharp appearance that is both comfortable and current, while taking a step into the future.”