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Ward’s Names 10 Best Interiors for 2012

Audi A7 Interior

The fact is that when we shop for cars, the first thing we look at is is the exterior design. It’s the sheetmetal that catches our eye and elicits the emotional reaction. By comparison, interiors get little attention. When’s the last time you saw a car’s interior on the cover of a magazine?Think about it, though. After the initial blush of exterior infatuation, where do you spend all your time? On the inside of the car, not the outside. Shouldn’t it be a place you enjoy? It’s time to share some love with car interiors for a change. The editors at WardsAuto agree, and have named their 10 Best Interiors for 2012. Climb in and have a look.

The winners are:

  • Audi A7
  • Chevrolet Sonic
  • Chrysler 300 Luxury Series
  • Dodge Dart
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Hyundai Azera
  • Infiniti JX35
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Range Rover Evoque
  • Volkswagen Beetle

Luxury vehicles like the Audi A7 and Range Rover Evoque are expected here. These are cars that command a premium and deliver an interior experience commensurate with the price tag. Lush leather seating and expensive trim materials are the norm in the luxurious classification.

Look further though. This is not a list dominated by big bucks cars. Three bargain compacts, Chevrolet Sonic, Dodge Dart and Hyundai Accent, make the list. As does a compact crossover, Mazda CX-5, aiming to make its mark with frugality. Why the push down-market for great interior design, especially in a segment formerly known for being penalty boxes?

“There are too many great interiors in the market for any auto maker to think it can stand pat with its current interior offerings and remain successful,” says WardsAuto World Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter. “Based on some of the vehicles we have seen at recent auto shows, we can tell the competition among interiors will be fierce in the next few years.”

That is great news for auto buyers in the lower end segments. You’re no longer banished to the automotive equivalent of a cheap office cubicle, with flimsy materials and unsupportive seating. You deserve decent accommodations no matter what your budget.

The Chevrolet Sonic is a prime example of GM’s increased attention to interior design. With its motorcycle-inspired gauge cluster and copious storage capacity, you’ll hopefully forget the Aveo even existed. The Hyundai Accent used to be the last resort for people who absolutely refused to buy a used car but could barely afford a new one, and its interior confirmed that status. Now, you can clearly see the lineage from its bigger siblings, the Sonata and Elantra.

The two Chrysler vehicles on the list have clearly benefitted from their association with Fiat. When the Chrysler 300 was being rebranded for the Italian marketplace as the Lancia Thema, it received a significant interior upgrade. The results were so impressive, Chrysler opted to sell it in the US also, as the 300 Luxury Series. Working in the other transatlantic direction, the Dodge Dart began life as an Alfa Romeo, and clearly kept some Italian flair in the translation.

Check all these cars out in our Research Autos section, and read the full report from WardsAuto.