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Okay, I'll try to make this short, because it is something I am way too passionate about....

What is the deal here?!

I keep reading reviews and posts about the "quality of the materials", "soft touch" and so on.
Here is the deal: Plastic is plastic!!
Last week I had a rental car often praised for it's interior. It felt just like any other sea of plastic too me. Seriously, how DO people say which plastic is superior to others?! (aside from that 90s plastic that feels like it's hollow and gonna break any minute but the same is true for anything).

To me it still feels cheap. It's still artificial, I have never in my life touched ANYTHING like that stuff in the car in Nature. Which is how ultimately something should feel, right? Natural.
You have these surfaces that LOOK like plastic (and let's be honest, every carmy, accord, whatnot's plastic still LOOKS LIKE PLASTIC!!!). Then you touch it and it feels very.... repellent. Or that fake animal skin-print found in every single carsurface nowadays.


Maybe fiberglass would be better. Or just metal. What's wrong with polished or painted metal inside with wood trims or plush accents (don't' you miss it ...?).


Bottom line, people talk about how "the quality of the plastic must still be improved" and then point to another plastic mixture that's just as fake, yucky, but maybe wobbles more when you touch it.

In no way can I see how the Chrysler plastics are oh so inferior to the Honda plastics except for everybody saying so. I think it's a perception thing. If people said Chrysler interiors were cool, the Honda people would be told they need to try harder.

Somebody, please enlighten me or tell me I'm not crazy!
 

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Okay, I'll try to make this short, because it is something I am way too passionate about....

What is the deal here?!

I keep reading reviews and posts about the "quality of the materials", "soft touch" and so on.
Here is the deal: Plastic is plastic!!
Last week I had a rental car often praised for it's interior. It felt just like any other sea of plastic too me. Seriously, how DO people say which plastic is superior to others?! (aside from that 90s plastic that feels like it's hollow and gonna break any minute but the same is true for anything).

To me it still feels cheap. It's still artificial, I have never in my life touched ANYTHING like that stuff in the car in Nature. Which is how ultimately something should feel, right? Natural.
You have these surfaces that LOOK like plastic (and let's be honest, every carmy, accord, whatnot's plastic still LOOKS LIKE PLASTIC!!!). Then you touch it and it feels very.... repellent. Or that fake animal skin-print found in every single carsurface nowadays.


Maybe fiberglass would be better. Or just metal. What's wrong with polished or painted metal inside with wood trims or plush accents (don't' you miss it ...?).


Bottom line, people talk about how "the quality of the plastic must still be improved" and then point to another plastic mixture that's just as fake, yucky, but maybe wobbles more when you touch it.

In no way can I see how the Chrysler plastics are oh so inferior to the Honda plastics except for everybody saying so. I think it's a perception thing. If people said Chrysler interiors were cool, the Honda people would be told they need to try harder.

Somebody, please enlighten me or tell me I'm not crazy!
You aren't crazy!

However, sometimes the "presentation" of the plastic makes the user like one plastic over the other.

As an example, the dash of my 03 CTS is not cheap, but it looks cheap because of the design of the dash. Except for the wrong location for the clock, which they changed in the first year, the Driver Info Center is a pain in the butt to use.

Overall the car is superb to drive and the controls work well, once you get used to them. I love the car but the new dash is so much better looking that I can hardly wait until It's replacement time.
 

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For someone who states thier passion for this, appears to me you don't understand interiors from one maker to the next. There clearly is a difference. There clearly is an art to producing appealing insides.
Watch:
http://www.autolinedetroit.tv/show/1207
 

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Plastic is also for safety. Metal dashes are gone forever.
 

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While I agree that there is an overemphasis on the importance of plastic quality for the most part, I must take issue with saying that Chrysler plastic is the same as Honda plastic, or, for that matter, any other car company's plastic.

Chrysler uses the worst plastics I have ever seen in new cars. It looks like cheap Fisher-Price, Play-Skool plastic. It's hollow sounding, not polished at the seams, and used to the point where it makes your car look like a toy imported from China.



vs.

 

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Here are the factors that make a difference - sheen (shiny looks cheap), grain pattern (compare a VW Passat door panels to a Saturn Aura's and tell me you can't see a quality difference), texture (I could exfoliate my elbows on my Aura's and Sky's lower trim panels) and design/style. The last one is where Chrysler has failed miserably recently. They put their cheapest, hardest plastics right where you see them and touch them - the console, upper door panels and dashboard. GM, and most other manufacturers, are at least smart enough (or have started to learn) to use higher quality plastics in those areas, keeping the cheap stuff generally out of sight.

I have yet to see an automaker with better interior materials than Volkswagen and Audi.
 

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Its all about presentation.

Plastic is plastic in the sense that.....plastic = plastic.

But then there are things done to the plastic that makes it feel the way it does and how its used which increases/decreases ambience perception accordingly.

Design of the interior, texturing of the plastic, apparent thickness of the plastic (this is more based on tapping it and feeling how hollow it sounds), use of other materials, color variations.
 
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Yup, I feel the same way. This young engineer I work with actually talks about "high quality plastic". It's plastic!

I am in the minority here on this site on this issue.
 

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Here are the factors that make a difference - sheen (shiny looks cheap), grain pattern (compare a VW Passat door panels to a Saturn Aura's and tell me you can't see a quality difference), texture (I could exfoliate my elbows on my Aura's and Sky's lower trim panels) and design/style. The last one is where Chrysler has failed miserably recently. They put their cheapest, hardest plastics right where you see them and touch them - the console, upper door panels and dashboard. GM, and most other manufacturers, are at least smart enough (or have started to learn) to use higher quality plastics in those areas, keeping the cheap stuff generally out of sight.

I have yet to see an automaker with better interior materials than Volkswagen and Audi.
Agree 100%. All German cars in general tend to have the same tactile quality with their interior parts. Oddly, Mercedes seem to be on the bottom of the Teutonic heap in this respect. At least lately.


New_Mexico_Sunset_on_Rt66 said:
I am in the minority here on this site on this issue.
Minority yes, but it's likely you're simply not as sensitive to touch and texture like some are. Do you work with your hands a lot?

I'm particularly fussy about a car's interior because I'm very sensitive to touch. There are certain fabrics I won't wear and certain textured surfaces that give me the heebie-jeebies if I touch it...most brown cardboard boxes (chain pizza-joint boxes are the worst), sandpaper, rusted metal surfaces, balsa wood, styrofoam ice boxes...

I needed therapy after the day I walked into the kitchen and my son was drawing a picture with CHALK — on CONSTRUCTION PAPER. My teeth "tickle" just thinking about it...
 

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I think the issue here is semantic -- it is not the quality of the plastic itself (how strong it is or whatever), but how artfully (or not artfully) it is used to make a pleasing interior environment.

As a few have mentioned earlier, choosing certain grains, colours, sheens, etc can make a huge difference in the percieved quality of an interior.

Fit and finish is part of the equation too ... and more of a traditional definition of quality. But a crappy-looking, but well assembled interior is still crappy looking.

Like most design issues, though, the differences are pretty subjective. And I suspect the first poster just doesn't care a lot about interior design and doesn't weigh it very heavily in their overall evaluation of the car ... fair enough.

But, for manufacturers, more artful design in the interiors makes the car seem more "premium" to buyers ... and allows them to charge more (at least over time) for their cars.
 

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When it comes to touching plastic, I agree with you. There may be different textures, but they all feel plasticiky to me. I'm felt interiors that some claim were so great and I couldn't understand what people were talking about. The only real difference I see is how they look. Some plastic interiors look fairly good (VW) and some look horrible (Chrysler).
 

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When it comes to touching plastic, I agree with you. There may be different textures, but they all feel plasticiky to me. I'm felt interiors that some claim were so great and I couldn't understand what people were talking about. The only real difference I see is how they look. Some plastic interiors look fairly good (VW) and some look horrible (Chrysler).
I agree also the textures of plastics can vary from car to car but in the end its still plastic. Also I go by looks as well for instance, Chrysler interiors look horrendous. The LX cars are an exception but other than those three the interiors in the rest of chryslers lineup look like there is one big rubbermaid convention going on in there
 

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Being in cars all day there is a difference. Some cars have a bit of a soft touch (Saab 9-3, Charger, 300, Challenger are good examples), some aren't hard but aren't soft either (2007 Malibu, current G6 are good examples), and others are ROCK HARD (Commander comes to mind).

After that there is the texture, some textures "look" better than others, it is hard to explain, but when you see a good texture next to a bad texture you can tell.

Basically if the plastic "looks" soft it has a good texture, if it looks "hard" (or coarse) it has a bad texture. Of course you can't have smooth plastic as that looks horrid (early pre-production cars use untextured plastic and when you see it the first time you are like WOW that is ugly.)

I can't really explain it anymore than that. Sit in cars all day and you will understand.



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Here is the deal: Plastic is plastic!!
Plastic is plastic in the sense that.....plastic = plastic.
Yup, I feel the same way. This young engineer I work with actually talks about "high quality plastic". WTF. It's ****ing plastic.

I am in the minority here on this site on this issue.
Do you guys have any idea how many different types of plastic there are? And how may modifications you can make to each one to tailor it to a specific need? There are people who get PhD degrees on this subject, work in the field for decades, and still don't have a full understanding of it.
 

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Do you guys have any idea how many different types of plastic there are? And how may modifications you can make to each one to tailor it to a specific need? There are people who get PhD degrees on this subject, work in the field for decades, and still don't have a full understanding of it.
A guy I work with used to work for a company that deals solely in switch actuation.

A big part of buttons even in cars is how they feel when pressed. There are people whose sole job is to work on how a button feels when pressed. Some of them have PhD's too.



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Do you guys have any idea how many different types of plastic there are? And how may modifications you can make to each one to tailor it to a specific need? There are people who get PhD degrees on this subject, work in the field for decades, and still don't have a full understanding of it.
Definately my thoughts as well.

To me, it is extremely evident in both look and feel when a company has used a plastic that is sub-par, or one that is superb. Remember, not everybody is using the same type of plastics either. Yes, you can generalize and say yes, all dashes are plastic, so, why does it matter?

Well, The first couple of things that I begin to notice are if the plastics feel brittle and hard, or if they feel like they have some give, rendering them a bit softer. And then, also like mentioned above, is the way that the plastic is grained. For instance, Some Dashes feel like they are extremely dry, while others can take on more of a "moist" feeling. It could be that the company building the dash is also incorporating a synthetic rubber, adding more give meaning it feels more natural, like a leather for example.

I don't see how many people can just say well, plastic is plastic. Like mentioned above, if you take one type of plastic, lets say it is a less expensive, harder and brittle, and make an interior out of it, it is very likely that it will be seen as cheap, and not having substance, while on the other hand, if you use a plastic that is a little more expensive, maybe having a bit of give to it, and lets say a nice graining effect on it, and apply it in the same interior as the cheaper plastic, it can be light night and day. It would be obvious which interior used a more expensive plastic, and one would be most definately more pleasing to touch and come in contact with than the other.

Like I said, I am just really big on how the plastics look and feel in cars. I like to touch things and feel their textures.

-Chase
 
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