COVID-19 Complicates But Can’t Derail Interiors Competition

This is the 10th year of the competition, which focuses on all-new or significantly redesigned vehicle interiors available in the U.S. SUVs and CUVs make up seven of the 10 honorees – the first time so many utility vehicles have dominated.

Tom Murphy, Managing Editor

June 25, 2020

3 Min Read
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The COVID-19 pandemic forced modifications for 2020 Wards 10 Best Interiors testing, but the show went on and Wards judges spent time with 32 nominated vehicles (some of it virtually) in determining this year’s winners.

This is the 10th year of the competition, which focuses on all-new or significantly redesigned vehicle interiors available in the U.S. market. SUVs and CUVs make up seven of the 10 honorees – the first time so many utility vehicles have dominated – leaving only two sedans and a coupe to fill out this year’s list. 

The 2020 winners in alphabetical order (price listed as tested):

  • Audi e-tron ($85,790)                                       

  • Bentley Flying Spur ($283,275)                        

  • BMW X6 M Competition ($131,745)                

  • Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ($78,820)              

  • Hyundai Venue ($23,305)                                 

  • Kia Telluride ($47,255)

  • Lincoln Aviator ($81,790)

  • Mercedes-Benz GLB ($57,470)

  • Nissan Sentra ($24,800)

  • Toyota Highlander ($51,654)

This year’s trendlines are unmistakable. Redesigned vehicles are arriving more today than ever before with heated second-row seats, reconfigurable digital displays, compelling color and fabric combinations, bold ambient lighting colors and front passenger seats available with memory position settings.

During the 10 years of the competition, Hyundai has won eight trophies, more than any other automaker, while its sister brand Kia has won six. This is the fifth year both Hyundai and Kia have earned trophies in the same year. Chevrolet has won seven trophies.

It’s also the fourth year in a row Lincoln has made the cut and the third year in a row for Toyota. Nissan now has five trophies. Among German luxury rivals, BMW and Mercedes-Benz each has five trophies, while Audi has four.

Eight Wards editors and analysts based in Southfield, MI, selected the best interiors from a list of 32 nominated vehicles with all-new or significantly improved cabins available in the U.S. market.

Up until this year, editors conducted test drives in Metro Detroit in February and March and scored each vehicle on design aesthetics, comfort, ergonomics, materials, fit-and-finish and user-friendly electronics. There is no price cap for 10 Best Interiors.

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alcohol for interior cleaning

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, judges were working from home and some press cars were not available until May. Cars were delivered to homes of editors or analysts who then used their smartphones to conduct live virtual walkarounds for fellow judges.

“In past years, the cars went to our office and we all got seat time and we did our scoring and could talk about this feature or that,” says Wards Senior Analyst Drew Winter. “This year, in quarantine, we didn’t pass cars around for fear of spreading the virus. But we managed to do the judging just the same, with the help of video conferencing and cameras on our phones.”

The Wards judges hosted multiple video conferences with automaker design teams, who were also working from home, to discuss in detail the nominee interiors.

The selection process mirrors that of Wards 10 Best Engines and Propulsion Systems and Wards 10 Best User Experiences. Judges now are evaluating 2020 nominees for 10 Best UX and will pick winners in early July.

The 2020 Wards 10 Best Interiors (as well as 2020 Wards 10 Best UX) will be honored in an all-new virtual ceremony during the Informa Tech Automotive Group’s Super Event to be held Aug. 18-20, featuring the WardsAuto Interiors Conference, WardsAuto User Experience Conference, TU-Detroit and ADAS & Autonomous Vehicles

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Read more about:

2020 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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