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