DETROIT – Domestic auto makers make an impressive showing at the seventh annual automotive “Interior of the Year” awards, presented this week at the Ward’s Auto Interiors Show here.

DaimerChrysler AG, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. take home the lion’s share of the awards, given in 12 categories broadly defined by cars, trucks and cross/utility vehicles (CUVs).

Winners in each category were based separately on votes from those in the industry and the news media.

Winners in each category, as determined by voters working within the auto industry include:

Popular-Priced Premium-Priced
Car Pontiac Solstice Lincoln Zephyr ('07 Lincoln MKZ)
CUV Chevrolet HHR Subaru B9 Tribeca
Truck Chevrolet Tahoe Cadillac Escalade

Automotive journalists, meanwhile, demonstrate somewhat different opinions regarding vehicles with the best interior in the same categories:

Popular-Priced Premium-Priced
Car Audi A3 Lincoln Zephyr
CUV Mazda CX-7 Audi Q7
Truck Toyota FJ Cruiser Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Voters working in the auto industry and journalists have more convergence regarding the winners of categories for individual interior features, however.

Industry and journalist voters agree the Ford Mustang has the best instrument cluster.

Both groups vote Honda Motor Co. Ltd.’s Acura division as the winner for best navigation system.

Journalists and industry voters also agree in a category that often generates polarized opinions: best cupholder. The 2006 winner is the Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

For best sound system, industry voters choose the Boston Acoustics-supplied setup in the Dodge Magnum. Journalists select the Bang & Olufsen system in the Audi S8.

The best seat system, according to industry voters, is the Johnson Controls Inc.-sourced seats for the Dodge Charger. Journalists prefer the chairs in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

For best interior innovation, industry voters cite the Stow ’N Go seat system in the Dodge Grand Caravan. Journalists name the in-bed trunk from the Honda Ridgeline pickup truck as their favorite interior innovation.

Vehicles eligible for the seventh automotive Interior of the Year competition had to be new or redesigned for the ’06 model year or an ’07 model on sale in calendar year 2006.

Winners were selected from a field of 53 finalists selected by Ward’s editors.

In addition, 991 industry members voted for each category, while 69 automotive journalists logged votes.

bvisnic@wardsauto.com