The interior has always been among the most important aspects of a car to the average driver. Oddly enough, automakers didn’t recognize the interior’s importance until the decline of TV ads forced them to start listening to their customers more closely.
Ward’s Auto Editor-in-Chief, Drew Winter, made this clear when he said, “This year’s batch of winners really drives home the point that interiors are a vital part of the battle for consumers’ hearts and minds. It wasn’t uncommon all that long ago for auto makers to view interiors as the best place to take cost out of a vehicle. They eventually figured out [that people] spend a lot more time looking at the inside of their car than the outside.”
These days, it’s a well understood fact that for a car to succeed, it needs to feel good… from the inside. After all, this is the part of the car you spend 99% of your time in contact with. Which is exactly why Ward’s 10 Best Interiors award is so important. Even though the award is only three years old, it serves as a unique benchmark against which both manufacturers and drivers can measure their cars’ interiors.
The winner of this year’s Ward’s 10 Best Interiors award is the 2013 Acura RDX. Japanese brands dominate by making up 5 of the 10 best interiors. You can see below where the Japanese cars ranked on the list:
1. Acura RDX
6. Lexus GS
8. Nissan Pathfinder
10. Toyota Avalon
Of course, Ward’s analysis is based on the US market and US market preferences. One wonders how many Japanese car interiors would have made the cut in Europe, for example, where tastes range from the dour solidity of Volkswagen to the leather-and-wood opulence of Jaguar or Bentley.
For those of you interested in the process behind Ward’s 10 Best Interiors, it’s very similar to the process behind Ward’s other well-known award, Ward’s 10 Best Engines. Basically, a panel of editors spent the past two months putting each of 46 new or revised models through a ringer of regular use. Then, they evaluated each vehicle based on a number of different criteria.
The different criteria that Ward’s Auto chose to focus on this year were as follows: interior design and aesthetic appeal, user interface and smart phone integration, safety, space, comfort and quality of materials. As the title of this article says, the Acura RDX was the best of the best.
For those of you interested in data analysis:
* The average price of a car on Ward’s 10 Best Interiors was $42,410
* The most economical car on the list was the Chevrolet Spark at $15,795
* The most expensive car on the list was the Lexus GS 450h at $68,139
* Toyota has the best representation with two vehicles on the list
* 7 of 10 cars were manufactured by Asian brands (one Kia and one Hyundai in addition to the Japanese brands)
It would be interesting to see what the list would look like if Ward’s Auto were to do a low-budget list restricted to vehicles at or under $25K. Only 2 vehicles on the current list fit that criteria. Either way, the irrefutable lesson to be taken from this award is that if you want a quality interior, buy a Japanese car.
Oh, and for those of you who would like to see the full list, you can find it here. Are there any cars, Japanese made or otherwise, that you think deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comments below.