Lincoln earns top marks for its Navigator cabin
Forty new or significantly upgraded interiors were nominated and tested for the 2018Ward's Autobest interior list, with American vehicles taking three spots, two hailing from Europe, and five from Asia.
Again a sizeable proportion of the winners are luxury models, but mainstream vehicles were represented by the Hyundai Kona, Chevrolet Equinox, and Toyota Camry.
Chevrolet Equinox - US$36,375 ($48,000)
Sold locally as the Holden Equinox, the Ward's team praised the Equinox for "its abundant curves", premium materials, excellent infotainment system, and top-shelf finish.
Hyundai Kona - $29,775 ($40,000)
Given the price pressures in this segment, the industry publication was pleased to play in this "hipster’s playground", noting "Hyundai's designers judiciously [used] neon lime trim ... to catch the eye of shoppers looking for something out of the ordinary".
Infiniti QX50 - $58,195 ($76,700)
Described as containing "a lot of conceptual edginess", Ward's editors were particularly impressed by the design that's "simultaneously effervescent, calming and inspiring", as well as the open-pore maple wood trim "so subtle it actually looks metallic".
Kia Stinger - US$48,350 ($63,800)
In addition to the "just right" mix of red and black, the industry publication was enamoured with the car's brushed aluminium trim, grippy seats, simple-to-use infotainment setup, and grab handles that match the gear shifter.
Lexus LS500 - US$89,780 ($118,000)
In a segment where designers "seem terrified of risk", Lexus gained plaudits for its "spectacular colour combinations", but also creative little details, like cut-glass trim and hand-pleated leather on the door.
Lincoln Navigator - US$96,570 ($127,300)
Under the skin, the Navigator may share a lot with the Ford F-150 and Expedition, but inside the cabin (above and top) it is a world apart thanks to its completely unique design.
Indeed, the SUV earned the highest points total of any interior nominated this year. In Black Label form, the three-row monster was praised for "upper door leather so heavily perforated it’s almost webbed", an interior so red you feel like "you’re swimming in a glass of cabernet", and a cargo area with fold flat seats capable of swallowing the entire contents of a typical apartment.
Porsche Panamera - US$201,540 ($265,800)
Aside from "the best massaging seats on the planet", the second-generation Panamera was lauded for its much simplified design, with Porsche banishing its vast ocean of buttons in favour an infotainment system with a large screen and similarly large fonts.
Ram 1500 - US$65,945 ($87,000)
Fiat Chrysler's redesigned pickup truck took its place on the list in part because the sampled Limited model didn't have the heavy cowboy theme seen on many other variants.
There's also the large 12.0-inch vertical touchscreen featuring "bold hues and graphics", and a menu structure described as "logical and easy to comprehend while the vehicle is in motion".
Range Rover Velar - $91,830 ($122,000)
Not only did the Velar's interior strike the "right balance of luxury, sport and technology", but its multi-function knobs, which adjust both the climate control and seat heater settings, may find its way into more cars as manufacturers cram in features and attempting to minimise button clutter.
Toyota Camry - US$39,253 ($51,800)
While dependable, affordable and well made, the Camry has never been praised for design, inside or out. This time around, though, there were plaudits for the car's fluted buttons, and an "unusual centre stack that is distinctive for its lack of symmetry".
What do you think of this year's list? Are there any new interiors you think were overlooked? Let us know in the comments section below.