WardsAuto editors are nearing the end of the 2015 Ward’s 10 Best Interiors competition and will announce the winners April 16.

This year’s field consists of 42 all-new or significantly improved interiors in just about every vehicle segment available to U.S. shoppers.

From entry-level economy cars and rear-wheel-drive sport coupes to luxury plug-in hybrids and a raft of utility vehicles, this year’s pool of contenders finds automakers thinking creatively about passenger compartments – how to make them more spacious, functional and stylish.

A handful of entries (namely the BMW i3 and i8, Jeep Renegade, Kia Sedona and Nissan Murano) suggest automakers are giving designers newfound freedom to reimagine the role of the interior.

Setting these vehicles apart are unique applications of ambient lighting, bold splashes of color, distinctive trim, far-reaching materials or clever packaging.

Eight WardsAuto editors based in Southfield, MI, select the winners after spending February and March evaluating and scoring the 42 vehicles based on these criteria: fit-and-finish, comfort, material selection, ergonomics, information/displays, value, safety and design aesthetics.

To be eligible, an interior must be completely new or significantly improved. There is no price cap, unlike with Ward’s 10 Best Engines, which limits base vehicle price at $60,000.

Winning automakers will receive their trophies during a ceremony at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference being held May 13 in the new Grand Riverview Ballroom at Detroit’s Cobo Center.

In scoring each entry, editors complete score sheets after looking closely at, for instance, the “kings joint,” a fussy mating point between the front doors and instrument panel. Any misalignment of trim can result in point deductions.

They look at stitching and seams all over the vehicle – on doors, seats, sunroofs and instrument panels, in cargo holds and where the headliner meets with each section of pillar trim. They check for flush-fitting vents and speaker grates. They rotate knobs and flip switches to make sure they function smoothly.