For those of you who know it’s what’s on the inside that counts, WardsAuto presents its 10 Best Interiors list for 2017. And no. It’s not all about luxury cars, but that said, no entry level cars made the list.
This year’s field of nominees included 31 eligible models. To be considered, a cabin had to be completely new or heavily reworked and improved over the prior year. The rules ensure one model doesn’t dominate year after year without ever making big improvements. This year that especially rings true with seven out of 10 automakers being new to the list. As for the other three – Honda, Lexus, and Mazda – making great cabins is old hat.
WardsAuto looked at a number of factors include aesthetics, comfort, ergonomics, materials usage, fit-and-finish and user-friendly electronics. The cars are listed alphabetically. For our shopping purposes, we’ve listed the models in ascending price order. The “cheapest” model on the list is the Subaru Impreza at$29,260. From there it goes up to the Bentley Bentayga for a cool $278,730.
Subaru Impreza – $29,260 as tested
The Impreza is the first Subaru to make the seventh annual list. It’s a good sign for overall lineup improvement in terms of cabins at the Japanese automaker that’s experienced 64 consecutive months of yearly month-over-month sales.
The Impreza, which comes as a sedan and a hatchback, received a complete makeover for 2017. True, you can get this model for under $19,000. However, only the top Limited trim, starting at $24,915, made the WardAuto cut. (Pricing note: throw on $500 for the five-door hatch version).
WardsAuto gives the Impreza the thumbs up for its new clean lines and easy to use infotainment system. It’s also a fan of the contrast stitching and metallic carbon fiber looking trimmings. The attention to details and fittings make the model feel like more than just a, well, Impreza.
“We haven’t seen a compact car improve this dramatically since last year when the Honda Civic earned a 10 Best Interiors nod,” said a WardsAuto representative.
Speaking of Honda…
Honda CR-V – $34,635
Really, this model just can’t stay off everyone’s top list for something. It’s the top-selling SUV in America. It stands apart from the competition with its unique half moon touch-sensitive steering wheel volume control, simple and large infotainment screen, and a digital gauge cluster. It also offers tons of storage and a roomy cabin.
It stands apart from the competition with its unique half moon touch-sensitive steering wheel volume control, simple and large infotainment screen, and a digital gauge cluster. It also offers tons of storage and a roomy cabin.
Mini Cooper Countryman – $38,450
The new 2017 Mini Countryman is the only ‘beamer’ class to make the list. The compact CUV isn’t so mini anymore, as tends to be the trend with the automaker these days. The interior is one thing Mini enthusiasts love most. Inside it competes on a roomy level usually only found in bigger models. In his recent test drive, our very own Jerry Reynolds says, “Unlike any Mini Cooper I’ve ever been in, this one has a lot of headroom and legroom.”
Interior details show the expected Mini flare. Starting with the new toggle concept buttons for engine start/stop and climate. The classic circles look stays with a giant round infotainment system that gets a surrounding circular frame strip of mood lighting (Note: we’re not exactly sure what this frame of lights is for. Fashion. That’s what it must be. It is Mini after all).
Mazda CX-9 – $45,855
The 2017 CX-9 takes the cake for the do it all SUV. The three-row SUV offers seats for seven. WardsAuto gave the upper-level Signature trim its thumbs up. It’s loaded with rosewood and aluminum trim, along with rich two-tone leather for under $46,000. Jerry noted the interior of the 2016 CX-9 when he took it for a test drive.
“For me, the shocker came when I looked inside. You would think you were in a Lexus or perhaps an Audi,” said Reynolds. “MSRP on this ultra-loaded SUV is $44,015, and frankly, I’ve driven SUVs that were thousands more and not as nice.”
We’re also fans of the unique heads-up display and easy to use infotainment system.
Buick LaCrosse – $50,270
The Buick LaCrosse comes to us all-new for 2017 from the classic American luxury brand. Inside it shows a unique wave line dash with a straight-forward 2-tier instrument panel. Cabin materials are a combo of light leather with brown accent stitching and dark wood trimmings. The front seats are, drum roll please, massage seats.
Alfa Romeo Giulia – $50,490
Alfa Romeo arrived back in the U.S. just two years ago. The leather interior on the new Giulia sport sedan is a hit with WardsAuto critics, as is the cockpit which features a flowing driver-centric dash. It also has circular jet engine air vents that our editor-in-chief Amy is partial to. The steering wheel takes cues from F1 racers. And the trimmings? Cream leather, matte genuine walnut wood, and metallic accents.
Lincoln Continental – $72,870
Next up we have the flagship of Ford’s luxury company, the Lincoln Continental. Lincoln’s really stepped up the luxury factor in its vehicles. For the Continental, that means Alpine Venetian leather upholstery. Add to that ambient lighting. It also offers an especially luxe and unique feature of having the gear changes as buttons next to the infotainment screen. That means a much smoother and clean line center and dash. No bulky gear shifter stick.
I personally sat in that captain’s chair of the Continental at the Austin Automotive Show. Let’s just say I might have been, maybe – maybe not, yelled at for trying to take a nap. It’s just so quiet and cocoon comfy inside. (I’m also a huge fan of the beltline hidden door handles.)
Maserati Levante – $90,000
The luxury Levante does its Ferrari roots justice. It’s a sporty CUV and WardsAuto goes as far as to call the interior “fascinating”. It’s a blend of premium brown leather, sumptuous Ebano wood, distinctive white stitching, minimal brightwork and “Zegna edition” silk fabric, which feels as durable as industrial-strength denim.
We’re fans of the analog clock. They might be old school, but they add a touch of practical classiness on par with a non-wifi wrist watch. The controls are easy to reach and the gear paddles are at your fingertips just like an F1 racer. Creature comforts include a 900-watt Harmon Kardon sound system.
This an F1-styled cockpit, not a cabin. So while the rear seats are comfortable, they’re not for kids looking for electric entertainment. In fact, there are no screens in the back seat.
Lexus LC500 – $102,995
The Lexus makes the list as one of the models that didn’t get a next-generation, but instead a huge pre-gen upgrade for 2017.
This sports coupe gives you a great variety of cabin color scheme options. As it should for over $100k. Below we show the Bespoke White Leather option. We’re fans of the contrasting tan leather and blue trimmings. The other three options are Toasted Carmel – a monotone creating a cabin where you’re swimming in sweet caramel leather, Rioja Red Leather – a black and red velvet cake red interior, and black.
The overall shape of the interior is driver-focused. Details are key here. So check out the deep grooves in the door panels and old-fashioned door handles.
Bentley Bentayga – $278,730
Now for the crème-de-la-crème. The Bentayga. AKA the first, and only, Bentley SUV. When it comes to showy, this model’s is that and then some. The interior is a jazzy confection of dynamic lines and mixed rich colors and materials. You can also make your own custom interior mix. There are 15 leather colors to choose from along with 8 types of veneers. Deciding what to pick is a whole other problem. As expected, the model offers it all. We’re talking infotainment systems, plural. One in the front and one in the rear. Massaging seats, Naim premium audio, and a fold out – leather mind you – bench seat for lawn parties.
Just for the record. It’s also the world’s fastest SUV. Nuff said.
Photo Credit: Subaru, Alfa Romeo, Mazda, Maserati, Bentley, Lexus, Lincoln, Buick, MINI, HOnda