Only Two Luxury Brands Make Ward’s Best Interiors List In 2011

While we all like to go on about horsepower or differentials or suspension arms when discussing new cars, we often overlook the place where you and your car spend the most time together--inside the cabin. In order to recognize this aspect of vehicle development, Ward’s Auto releases a list every year for the best car interiors in a number of different vehicle segments.

The vehicles--both cars and trucks--were divided into segments, with one winner named in each category. After driving the vehicles over a two month period, judges evaluated them during their daily driving cycles and awarded points for design, material selection, fit-and-finish, ergonomics, driver information, safety, value and comfort.

Surprisingly, this year, only two luxury brands made the list from a field of 51 new models: Audi for its 2011 A8 and BMW for its 2011 X3.

Highlights of the A8 were its high-gloss wood on the seat backs and suede inserts on its stylized door innards. The car’s gear lever was also praised for its ergonomic design, which acts as a rest for the lower part of the hand while working the new MMI controller. Of course, with a pricetag approaching $100,000, you would expect this level of quality.

Of more surprise was the U.S.-built X3, which testers praised for its black-and-cream interior color scheme and wood trim. Superior fit-and-finish and ample space for five occupants were also highlights, and even the latest iDrive controller got the thumbs up. Not bad considering the X3 is roughly half the price of the Audi.

The new 2011 Volvo S60 is another premium vehicle on the list worth mentioning, especially considering it starts in the $30,000 bracket.

This year’s winners in alphabetical order are listed below:

- Audi A8 - BMW X3 xDrive35i - Chevy Cruze 2LT RS - Dodge Charger Rallye Plus - Ford Focus Titanium - Honda Odyssey Elite - Hyundai Elantra Limited - Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit - Kia Optima EX - Volvo S60

[Ward’s Auto]