2018 Wards 10 Best Interiors Quick Hits

A summation of all 40 interiors evaluated in the 2018 competition. Many of these comments are taken directly from score sheets submitted by WardsAuto editors. Prices listed are sticker. Winners in red.

9 Min Read
Volvo XC40 lava orange
Volvo XC40 with Lava orange accents.Tom Murphy

Alfa Romeo Stelvio ($51,890)
Lots of red leather sets our hearts aflutter, but shifter paddles are too large and block access to control stalks. Great-quality materials and fast phone pairing, but lacks rear-seat room and consistent voice-recognition technology.

Audi RS 3 ($62,475)
Beautiful low-gloss materials and possibly the best-looking diamond-quilted and perforated seats we’ve seen. Virtual Cockpit still a stunner. But a shocking amount of hard plastic at this price.

BMW X2 ($50,920)
Premium BMW materials, with some cool design to boot (fish-scale-like metal trim). Our cream leather was nice, but a more daring color choice likely would have scored higher. Great ambient lighting.

BMW X3 ($57,620)
Like X2, all materials are top-notch but standard-issue BMW. Extra points for consistent application of satin-metal trim. Lack of adaptive cruise control at this price merits a big “boo” from our judges.

Buick Enclave Avenir ($59,435)
Leather is top-shelf; nice center screen has simple controls and big buttons; loads of headroom and legroom in second and third rows; gobs of storage space; third row is easy to access. But this pricey ute has cut-rate cupholders.

Buick Regal TourX ($41,550)
Kudos for sporty wagon packaging and panoramic sunroof extending over both rows, and overall price is right. But “woodgrain” trim is less than convincing, and steering wheel has ill-fitting trim.

Chevy Equinox ($36,375)
Nothing cheap about this interior; center console is huge; voice-activation system works well, and phone sync is easy; comfortable second row; instrument panel, seats and door trim feel premium. No glossy black plastic!

Chevy Traverse ($53,990)
Voice recognition performs flawlessly, and third-row USB ports are a bonus. But it feels strangely miniature inside, with low-height seat backs and tiny gauges. Fit-and-finish issues visible on instrument panel and driver’s seat.

Dodge Durango SRT ($74,955)
Hot, racy Demonic Red leather interior pairs nicely with 475 hp and launch control, but substantially more pricey than both BMWs we tested, and still no power-folding third-row seats.


Ford EcoSport.

Ford EcoSport.

Ford EcoSport ($24,985)
Nice to see three head restraints in second row, and swing-out door to access cargo is throwback cool; nice, durable seating surfaces with bronze accents. But plastic trim fits poorly in many areas, including where C-pillar trim meets headliner.


Ford Expedition ($81,590)
Features beautiful matte-finish wood, classy quilt stitching and extremely comfortable third row, with power folding capability for second and third rows. But B-pillar trim gaps are inexcusable, and Lincoln Navigator beats it on style.

Ford Mustang ($53,160)
Looks great with bright red perforated leather seats, red stripes on doors and red contrast stitching; distinctive metallic accents on instrument panel and center console; nifty cubby extends out from left side of steering wheel.

GMC Terrain ($44,370)
Heated and cooled seats in second row a bonus, and wireless phone charging works well. But lifting second-row seats takes fair amount of strength. And shouldn’t $44k get you a middle rear head restraint?

Honda Accord ($34,690)
Clean, contemporary look plus great materials in Touring-grade test car. However, it lacks show-stopping design and color, which rival Toyota Camry has in spades.


Honda Odyssey.

Honda Odyssey.

Honda Odyssey ($47,610)
Like Accord, Odyssey minivan has clean design and first-rate materials (and reasonable pricetag, too), but lacks wow factor of rival ChryslerPacifica, a Wards 10 Best Interiors winner in 2017.


Hyundai Accent ($19,905)
Materials in subcompact sedan, tested in Limited grade, are above average for its class, while controls are easy to use and access. But overall this interior lacks spice.

Hyundai Kona ($29,775)
We love the lime-green-on-black interior trim, excellent miniature head-up display, large center-console buttons, exemplary build quality and impressive ADAS package for under $30k.

Hyundai Sonata ($33,460)
High marks for clean, serene interior, with dark-blue piping on black leather seats. Still, the Limited 2.0T grade falls flat with many judges who find this design too predictable.

Infiniti QX50 ($58,195)
Materials, surfaces and textures are gorgeous, and dark-blue Ultrasuede center armrest is a tactile delight. Mix of hard buttons and touchscreens gets lots of love, as does HUD, fast phone pairing and ADAS technologies.

Infiniti QX80 ($84,660)
There’s a lot to like, from semi-aniline, exquisitely stitched saddle-brown leather seats to easy-access third row. Still, center stack is aged, with lots of tiny buttons – a far cry from winning Range Rover Velar.


Jaguar E-Pace door trim.

Jaguar E-Pace door trim.

Jaguar E-Pace ($54,190)
Pricing reasonable for a Jag, and movable straps and bars in cargo hold are cool. But ambient lighting and red contrast stitching are not enough to jazz up this all-black interior. We find RR Velar more compelling.


Jaguar XF Sportbrake ($71,445)
Warm, high-quality trim, and striking high-contrast seat design; driver-assistance systems work well. Touchscreen is beautiful but not as user-friendly as we would like; too difficult to perform simple tasks with HMI.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited ($52,235)
Jeep heritage shines through, especially with trapezoidal instrument-panel bezels. High-grade plastics and soft rubber used throughout; nav screen surrounded with textured rubber to provide good grip when needed. Still no place for driver’s left foot.

Kia Stinger ($48,350)
All we could ask for in big sportback sedan: stunning mix of red, black and metal trim, scads of technology, spot-on adaptive cruise control, soft-touch on IP and circular-knit headliner and pillar trim.

Lexus LS 500 ($89,780)
Fully reimagined flagship delivers lots of design flourishes: textured aluminum switchgear, brilliant splashes of color, impeccable build quality, 24-in. (61-cm) full-color HUD and doors adorned in hand-pleated fabric and ornately cut glass.

Lincoln Navigator ($96,570)
Brilliant use of soft leather, lustrous wood and premium carpet, all bathed in rich color that makes us thirsty for an expensive cabernet; fantastic center screen resolution and graphics; even the plastics seem higher grade. Makes memorable first impression.


Mercedes-Benz E400.

Mercedes-Benz E400.

Mercedes E400 ($86,685)
So close to making the cut with ideal low-gloss materials, finishes and textures and breathtaking cream and blue color scheme. We like the mix of metal switchgear and capacitive touch controls, and heated armrest makes our day in February.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross ($28,310)
Mitsubishi’s best interior in eons (ever?) with respectable materials at reasonable price. But gauge-cluster menu is befuddling, as is odd switch placement and temperamental voice-recognition technology.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ($42,280)
Another respectable effort from Mitsubishi. But dated elements, namely the small touchscreen, tiny switchgear and scads of glossy trim, take it out of contention, especially given its $42k price tag.

Nissan Leaf ($37,865)
Largely ivory cabin of our SL tester was calming, with quality leather and faux suede. But Leaf loses points for excessive hard plastic, rat-fur headliner, dated center stack, short center armrest and cabin noise.

Nissan Rogue Sport ($31,780)
Stylish, comfortable and functional enough, with padded front-seat knee bolsters. But it falls down on technology and controls, with many judges disliking the small audio knobs and touchscreen.

Porsche Panamera ($201,540)
All the style, elegance and attitude one can expect from a luxury hybrid four-seater churning out 680 hp. Expertly built – not a misaligned seam or gap to be found. Porsche steps up to new user interface that is highly intuitive.

Ram 1500 ($65,945)
Handsome stitching, unique trim, clever storage bins provide oodles of brand character. This cockpit fits like a glove. Attention to detail is phenomenal. Giant touchscreen is a game-changer and works with overall interior design.

Range Rover Velar ($91,830)
Top-notch headliner and seats; supremely comfortable overall; brilliant colors and graphics in touchscreen; multi-purpose dials are to be emulated. One simple, horizontal stripe across seats, near shoulder height, does so much to enhance aesthetic.


Subaru Crosstrek.

Subaru Crosstrek.

Subaru Crosstrek ($30,655)
Plentiful orange stitching provides nice contrast to all-black interior, and low-gloss plastics and soft-touch materials are plentiful. But there’s too much glossy piano black trim for some judges.


Toyota Camry ($39,253)
This interior raises the bar for midsize sedans – way up – with bold, brash use of color (lots of red) and compelling lines. Chock-full of technology, comfort, style and controls that are bigger and easier to touch and read.

Toyota C-HR ($25,633)
Embossed headliner and faux carbon-fiber trim are nice touches but won’t make up for all-black interior with fabric seats and barely any brightwork. Also lacks rear passenger and cargo room.

VW Atlas ($49,415)
Woodgrain finish pairs beautifully with satin-metallic trim; third row wisely configured for two occupants; lots of second-row headroom. Far and away, this is Wolfsburg’s best effort in the utility vehicle space.

VW Tiguan ($38,450)
Competitive material quality but not much more; seems unlikely this interior will sway many buyers shopping higher-volume midsize CUVs. Voice recognition performs inconsistently. Great idea combining heated seat/steering wheel in one button.

Volvo XC40 ($45,935)
With lava-orange carpet and door trim, this interior was highly polarizing – either loved or hated by judges. Even real aluminum trim on instrument panel, admired by some, was perceived as cheap by others. But keep these edgy ideas coming!

Read more about:

2018 10 Best Interiors

About the Author(s)

Tom Murphy

Managing Editor, Informa/WardsAuto

Tom Murphy test drives cars throughout the year and focuses on powertrain and interior technology. He leads selection of the Wards 10 Best Engines, Wards 10 Best Interiors and Wards 10 Best UX competitions. Tom grills year-round, never leaves home without a guitar pick and aspires to own a Jaguar E-Type someday.

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