Top 10: Best Car Interiors for 2009 (Under 15k)

Introduction

The following 10 cars fall into a price range of $15,000 or less and are graded in the following areas:

  • Quality of Interior Materials
  • Amount of Soft Touch Surfaces
  • Basic Interior Features
  • Available Interior Features
  • General Flow of Interior

Value relative to interior design & quality was an important factor in the rating system.

#10 - Pontiac G3 / Chevrolet Aveo

The G3 / Aveo interior has come a long way, granted, but it still looks clumsy and unprepared for this competitive market. One phrase can sum it up--The lighting is all wrong. Neon greens, lipstick reds and other awkwardly mixed colors reflect off the very thin plastics. There are no soft touch surfaces that I could find in this vehicle. Squeeks under the dashboard have been reported, but the interior is generally well assembled.

Photo courtesy About.com
Photo courtesy About.com

#9 - Scion xD

The Scion xD's interior looks clunky, funky and messy. It uses many borrowed parts from the Toyota Yaris and FJ Cruiser. Ultra glossy plastics seem to breed in this beast. Nonetheless, the carpeting is satisfactory, as is the cloth seating. The instrument panel is quirky, but kind of fun. The glove compartment(s) are somewhat awkward and give a clanky, plasticy thud when they close--reminding you of the less-than-toyota qualities of the vehicle. I recommend purchasing a Scion tC instead (if you have the extra bucks), whose interior is much more well behaved.

Photo courtesy Ridelust.com
Photo courtesy Ridelust.com

#8 - Toyota Yaris

Obviously, Toyota still hasn't gotten the memo that center-dash instrument control clusters are awkward, neck bending and funny looking. They don't make the vehicle look semitrical or modern, and at least Saturn has realized this.

The interior looks empty, small but clean enough. There isn't a lot going on, and if that's the way you like it--then this car may be for you. Soft-touch surfaces could not be found. I recommend spending the extra money ($1000-2000) and upgrade to a Toyota Corolla, which has stood the test of time (and public scrutiny!).

Photo courtesy Automoblog.net
Photo courtesy Automoblog.net

#7 - Honda Fit

The instrument cluster and dashboard smell of a "techno" generation, which is nice for me since I like that sort of music. The interior is large, useful and youthful. The faux-suade inserts are convincing and feel upscale. Though, hard surfaces are everywhere, some objects look out of place, and the interior is evident of cost-cutting (which I grade Honda harder because this is below them). I recommend spending the extra $1,400 and upgrading to the Honda Civic.

Photo courtesy Automobilemag.com
Photo courtesy Automobilemag.com

#6 - Nissan Versa

The interior of this vehicle is plain at best, but the materials are satisfactory. Plastics dominate, but the material doesn't look cheap. Cloth surfaces are superior than most in this price range--feeling of suade. For an MSRP of $12,000, the interior is better composed, easier on the eyes and overall has a better placement of features & objects than Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit.

Photo courtesy Motortrend.com
Photo courtesy Motortrend.com

#5 - Mitsubishi Lancer

The struggling company's small car is under especially tight scrutiny this year. Demands are higher than ever for Mitsubishi to put out a decent vehicle--and the interior of the Lancer may set that tone. The interior is plain, but is easy on the eyes and certainly serviceable. Nothing is extrusive (such as the xD's stick-shift), and the plastics don't scream "cost cutting!". The interior is fair, if not a bit boring. The cloth feels a tad thin, and the metalic pieces of plastic are a tad glaring in the sunlight, but everything else checks out OK.

Photo courtesy About.com
Photo courtesy About.com

#4 - Chevrolet Cobalt

When the Chevy Cobalt was displayed in 2004, it was seen as a major step forward for GM's compact vehicles. The interior was bar-none superior in all qualities compared to it's ancestor, the Cavalier. Cobalt showed the American and Canadian markets that GM was willing to invest more dollars into their compact division's interiors, and the Cobalt led the way.

The cobalt's interior is mostly composed of hard plastics with eye-pleasing textures. They may be plastic, but don't look cheap--thus saving this vehicle a spot on our top 10 car interiors of 2009.

Cloth is the primary seating material, with leather available for an extra fee. The leather is thin and feels synthetic, but is sufficiently durable up to 100,000 miles. Beware, the cloth used in the vehicle's interior is not stain proof. The cloth layer and insulation for the trunk of the vehicle feels thin and reeks of cost-cutting. The Cobalt SS Turbocharged's interior is superior to the base model's and has a less-plain feel. Granted, the SS's interior was nicer and more upscale when the vehicle first debuted.

The Cobalt has a decent interior for what it is, and was hallmark in an era of GM attempting to improve the interior of its vehicles. Although GM hasn't completely succeeded, their interiors are far better than they once were. Also, the cobalt is beginning to show it's age, and GM knows this--watch out for the new Chevy Cruze coming in 2010. Until then, the Cobalt remains a fair value.

Photo courtesy Automedia.com
Photo courtesy Automedia.com

#3 - Ford Focus

Ford's Focus received a face lift in 2008 and has since revived it's once boring interior. Focus now has jazzy ambiance lighting in seven different colors. This feature is available at an additional cost ($295) and is installed in the cupholders, foot space, etc.

The interior is full of hard plastics and few rubberized surface areas. The giganic piece of silver plastic on the center dashboard is designed to look like metal, but feels cheap and unconvincing. Cloth surfaces are thick enough, but the trunk's cloth feels thin.

Sync has been introduced on the Focus as well, but still remains beta (new and potentially faulty). Exact and crisp words must be spoken, or else the program gets confused. Focus' interior still remains a bit plain when compared to the competitors, but is a mile better than the previous generation. The perks Focus offers make the vehicle desirable to most.

The focus is planned to get another face-lift and/or chassis change in 2010, so stay tuned!

Photo courtesy Moldova.org
Photo courtesy Moldova.org

#2 - Toyota Corolla

Although the interior is plain, it is refined and well rounded. The interior fits many lifestyles without sacrificing too many specialties and attractions. The optional leather feels thicker and plumper than most in this market, and the smell of cost cutting is down for this year. The faux-wood inserts still look cheap, unconvincing and out of place. Corolla is one of the only vehicles in this price range that offers a navigation system. Beware: The navigation system can be confusing and requires some getting used to. The instrument cluster is still lackluster and could use some advice from the Mazda 3.

Photo courtesy About.com
Photo courtesy About.com

#1 - Mazda 3

The ambiance is what gives this car its glow. The interior looks cool and collected, ready for a nightclub on a friday night. The red glow of the intrument panel simply makes this car look jazzy at night.

Yet, those exact qualities let it down in some areas. The car looks somewhat monotonous with its black on black interior. A more diverse array of materials wouldn't hurt, and they are sure to come in 2010 when this vehicle gets a make over. Mazda 3's interior may be dark but it's fun and lively in it's own unique, night-loving way. Beware: the instrument panel showing the vehicle's speed, MPH/K, etc. tends to show glare in the day time.

Photo courtesy About.com
Photo courtesy About.com

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Comments 26 comments

Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Are these even smaller than the Astra? They look tiny! I guess I've never seen a car like the Yaris with the center-mount control panel. I agree. Awkward. "I'm sorry, officer. I didn't realize how fast I was going because I CAN'T SEE MY SPEEDOMETER!"


Direxmd profile image

Direxmd 7 years ago from Sonoma County, California Author

HA! Indeed Proud Mom, they get even SMALLER, have you seen the SmartCar? It seats 2, barely. GM is making a car to compete with it--even crazier!


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

I've seen them on the road, but never up close. Have you been in one? What's it like?


Direxmd profile image

Direxmd 7 years ago from Sonoma County, California Author

I've seen it up close, it's actually pretty impressive. A bit too small for me--looks kind of like a spiffy and street-legal golf cart :)


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

I guess if it came down to a choice between that and a motorcycle.....I'd still choose the motorcycle. I'm a bit clautorphobic. If the walls were going to move in on you anywhere, it'd be in there when the semi stopped behind you rolls into you. Can you imagine?

Have you done any rating hubs on bikes? I'd love to see one of those!


Direxmd profile image

Direxmd 7 years ago from Sonoma County, California Author

*Gag* motorcycles scare me. Well, it's going to take me some more time to get out and see some vehicles in the 25-35k price range (next review), but yeah I doubt I will do motorcycles. They are obnoxiously loud, and they don't have a lot of interior to show for :P


WHoArtNow profile image

WHoArtNow 7 years ago from Leicester, UK

Lol, so how are the Top 10's working out for you Mike?Looks awesome by the way, there more work than they look aren't they?

I don't think you guys get Alfa Romeo's out there do you? Well my personal favourite interior is in the Alfa Brera S (limited edition by Prodrive, the people who were behind the Subaru Impreza WRC)

http://www.egmcartech.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/...

How sexy is that! And by the way, that's not 4 pedals, the one on the left is a foot rest for when your cruising and don't need the clutch.


Direxmd profile image

Direxmd 7 years ago from Sonoma County, California Author

Holy... That's a nice vehicle, how much?

No, Alfa Romeos aren't sold here anymore. I think they stopped selling them in the 80's. Kinda sad, I couldn't add a Subaru on either of my reviews so far because their interior quality has really suffered this generation :/


WHoArtNow profile image

WHoArtNow 7 years ago from Leicester, UK

Subaru interiors suck! Well they do in the impreza anyway! There really badly made and tacky plastic, it's the only bad thing about them! It's about £24,000 which is about $38,000, fast though, and very sexy!


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

I personally don't care for the loud motorcycles. And I can't drive one no matter what it sounds like (like that would shock anyone) But the hubby has been eyeing them--I guess to replace the perfectly fine one he has now. I just would like to put my two cents in if starts seriously shopping......

I'd be terrified to drive one, but they're a blast to ride on! I don't imagine you'd be too interested, though, in riding down the road holding on to a guy wearing leather. :-)) And you're right. The interior would be more like the exterior on one, I guess....


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Wow, beautiful photos Direx!!!

Well, just dropping by to congratulate you for being a hubnugget nominee again! :-) Now you know what to do..vote and ask your friends to vote too.

Here is the link to Funride's hub where all the excitement of voting is going on: http://hubpages.com/community/hubnuggets-mar13-200


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Congrats, Mike!!


Direxmd profile image

Direxmd 7 years ago from Sonoma County, California Author

thanks guys :)


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

do any come in acai berry blue?

congrats.


Direxmd profile image

Direxmd 7 years ago from Sonoma County, California Author

way to beat a dead horse, toad :)


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

its not dead yet, legs are still twitching


Direxmd profile image

Direxmd 7 years ago from Sonoma County, California Author

terry shiavo joke? incoming?

... too soon?

Oops.


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

yes, you don't want to lose any votes before they finalize

you must be on your best behavior


Direxmd profile image

Direxmd 7 years ago from Sonoma County, California Author

if that is the only thing that makes me lose this competition, I would be very, very surprised.


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

one vote could make or break you and there's plenty around here who don't like to laugh.

but don't think of it as a competition either, you might intimidate your opponents, I mean fellow hubpage colleagues.


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

Nice pictures and good reviews. Thanks for the interesting info. I'm going to see how the $15-25K's compare.


raiderfan profile image

raiderfan 7 years ago from Arizona

Hell yeah!


Evan Hutchinson profile image

Evan Hutchinson 7 years ago from The Dirty South

The cobalt's interior materials are CHEEEEEEEAP. I don't think it shoulda been on the list. good on the others though


russian 6 years ago

try Lada Kalina!

it is the best choice under 15k

????? ???? ????? ? ???????? ?????)


john000 profile image

john000 5 years ago from Superior, Arizona

Have owned a Cobalt for 4 years. Has 100,000 miles with no breakdown repairs. Easy to work on. The interior is great, bucket seats comfortable, and plenty of storage space. 2.2 liter rocks. Your review does the car justice. Will continue reading you. TY


Muscle Car Remix profile image

Muscle Car Remix 19 months ago from Atlanta, GA

Of all of these interiors, I think the Ford Focus is the best and most modern.

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