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So, which luxury manufacturer makes the best interiors? This is based on design theme, look/feel of materials, controls placement, etc. Here's some of my views...

Cadillac: not the best materials (STS excluded), interesting design theme, STS needs analog clock, comfy seats

Lexus: best materials (IS excluded), plain interiors, LS is SUPERCOMFY

Infiniti: great design, M45 looks to have a great interior, curvy, great materials (G35/I35 excluded), comfy seats

Lincoln: Navigator/Aviator have great interiors, good but not best materials, LS/Town Car needs a total revamp (inside and out)

Audi: <Audi used to make the best interiors IMO>, A4/A8 have great interiors, A6 looks too complicated, great materials, A6 needs less buttons on dashboard

Jaguar: the use of wood looks frightening in pictures but SUPERCOMFY when you sit in an X/S/XJ/XK, some plastics are kind of cheap feeling, elegant and timeless design, perfect leather

BMW: driver oriented theme is cool, iDRIVE is horrible, good materials, some buttons too small

Mercedes-Benz: awesome leather, beautiful curvy dashboards, some plastics are cheap

Volvo: comfy interiors, needs more wood/brushed aluminum on center stack, driver oriented, high-quality buttons, THE BEST SEATS ON ANY CAR, great leather, stereo is too complicated

SAAB: cool "7" design theme, even in ligher colors the interior seems too dark, too many buttons on dash, needs more wood/brushed aluminum on dashboard

Acura: beautiful interiors, perfect mix of brushed aluminum/wood, great leather... [notice how I said nothing bad about Acura's interiors...they make great interiors, but their cars are still FWD]


1,212 Posts
This is a very interesting topic. I have asked myself many times what car brand has the nicest interiors. The luxury cars usually have the nicest interiors and so we have this little poll. Here are my thoughts on these cars from the little experience I have with them. These are in no particular order.

Cadillac - I hate to say this but beyond the XLR and upcoming STS, the current Cadillac interiors do absolutely nothing for me. I find them boring and cheap looking. They don't present a level of luxury and refinement that I expect to find in America's finest. I just think Cadillac should offer some of the world's finest interiors for its price range. I just see too much grey plastic and weird shapes that lead me to believe that GM is still cutting corners and making due with "just good enough". That's not good enough in this segment. I figure the fit and finish is good and the details are getting better, but from my initial inspection of the CTS, I was very underwhelmed. The SRX is better, but it could still reach for a higher standard.

Having said all those negative things, I do believe GM is making Cadillac interiors a priority - as shown by the STS. It isn't the best, but I see a start of some good ideas. I also believe Robert Lutz knows and demands fine interiors. He has been in enough to know what is great and what is garbage. He now has his opportunity to "knock em dead".

Lincoln - The current interiors in the Aviator and Navigator aren't bad, but I'm not a huge fan of the brushed aluminum look for this brand. A few years ago these interiors were considered nice, but now I just see them as silver painted plastic. The LS and Town Car aren't bad, but they could be better. I am really excited by the Zephyr concept interior. If Lincoln does go this way and produces it with some fine real wood, and a state-of-the art navigation system, Lincoln could have one of the best in the industry. Until then, Lincoln is just so-so in my book.

Mercedes - I don't know. The design is pleasing, but I expect better from them. All of the gadgets are there, but I am starting to see the appearance of some cheap looking interior pieces. All I can say is the MB interiors aren't weird looking like the future BMW and Audi interiors, but they don't win any inspiration prizes either.

BMW - I can't say I always thought BMW had the best interiors, because I never really thought they were. Rather, they were designed for a specific purpose - uncompromised performance. I really like the interior in the M3 and the 3 series, but the new interiors in the 5, 6, and 7 series do nothing for me. I haven't used i-drive, but from what I've read, it sounds way too complicated. I much prefer simplicity instead of driving a computer. I would rather see BMW go back to what it was good at - simple, yet purpose built, high quality interiors. I think BMW has fallen in love with itself with these new interiors.

Audi - These interiors are suppose to be the industry standard, but I could never figure out why. I mean they look nice overall, but that's about it. The materials are top notch, but I find the design to be boring. The new interior in the A6 just looks bizarre and straight out of a Star Trek movie. I don't care for it at all. It is too busy and has too many flashing lights. I'll pass.

Infiniti - For the most part, I never really thought much of Infiniti's interiors. There was way too much plastic and too many weird angles and bubbles over the place. The Q45 had real wood, but it looked overbearing to some degree. The new M45, on the other hand, looks out of this world. It is by far the best interior I have seen out of Infiniti. I'm not a fan of the shelf on the dash, but I think the interior patterns, materials, and design have a futuristic, sophsiticated look that I think is appropriate for the M45 and fits in with where Infiniti wants to go. Ergonomics could suffer, though, so I'll have to check it out when the car becomes available. It is certainly an interior to watch for.

Volvo - I find the current interiors too plasticky and boring, but they seem to have some sense of comfort about them. Again, I think there are too many buttons, but I think I could live with it. The interior with wood trim, on the other hand, does look very nice. I think the NAV system could be better done, but all in all, Volvo's interiors aren't too bad. Still, not the best, though.

Saab - I don't know too much about SAAB. I can't pass judgement other than I think they are kinda quirky. The upcoming SAAB suv, in my opinion, has a very nice interior.

Jaguar - The traditional Jaguar interiors modernized. I like the real wood and classy touches, but I sense too much Ford in the dash. The materials should be better for such a highly prized car, but all in all not a bad interior. The NAV units could be placed better (see Acura). I would like Jaguar to strive for an even higher standard in the future.

Now, for my top two picks.........

Acura - I love the interiors in the new TL and upcoming RL. The curves are smooth and flowing, the brushed aluminum is just the right and amount, and the center dash (with the NAV) is straight forward and simple. The seats appear to be comfortable and I absolutely love the blue gauges and blue lighting used in the car. The placement of the brushed aluminum is also attractive as it blends in well with the rest of the interior materials. The voice activated NAV sounds like a strong reason to buy the car. I would love to have something like that - to at least try out. The only negative I can think of right now is that I'm not a fan of the wood trim that can be added to the TL. The upcoming RL makes nice use of the wood trim, but I don't like it in the TL. I think the interiors look nice in grey and black, but not tan for some reason. I've also heard great things about Acura's new sound system.

Acura's interiors, to me, express a more youth oriented interior compared to the classy Lexus interior. I'm inspired by the design, use of materials, and technology found in today's Acuras.

Lexus - The first time I sat in the interior of a Lexus LS400, I was overwhelmed. The wood trim looked like nothing used in the car industry. It was so refined and so top-notch that it just sort of glowed. The materials throughout the interior were amazing, and I just couldn't get over the 3D effect of the light violet guages and glowing red needles. It was something I have never forgotten. At every St. Louis Auto Show, I have to stop by the Lexus display and sit in their cars. I find it awe inspiring every year. The seats in all Lexus vehicles are nice and soft, and the leather looks to be very high quality. The rear seat appointments in the LS430 are astounding. I love the fact that you can store sodas or any kind of beverage in a little compartment behind the rear seat arm rest. The rear seats can be cooled or warmed, and they even offer a vibration setting for relaxation.

Having said that, I'm not a fan of the combined NAV and radio and temperature controls. I would rather see what I am controlling without having to go into the push buttom screen. I guess I would have to try it to see what it it is really like.

With the combination of fine leather, beautiful wood trim (in more than 1 color), top-notch stereo systems (Mark Levinson), luxury appointments, style, and technology, I can see why Lexus is doing so well. Lexus balanced this whole juggling act perfectly in my book.

It was tough deciding which luxury car maker had the best interiors, but when I look back and think about the interiors I most want to play around in and just sit and stare at the attention to detail and advanced technology, the Lexus interiors always come to mind. I always look forward to seeing these interiors every year at the St. Louis Auto Show. On the other hand, I was sort let down by the Acura's interiors at this year's show. They still are very well done as I love the color combination of the grey and blue interior and the voice activated navigation, but I feel that Lexus makes the finest overall interiors in the luxury market.
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