Audi redefines how a driver experiences a compact sports coupe by integrating buttons and climate controls in clever places on the instrument panel, freeing up space and resulting in a cabin that feels less cramped.

With an IP free of clutter and the only information screen perched directly behind the steering wheel, the TTS clearly is a driver-focused car. Audi calls this the virtual cockpit, and the Q7 CUV and A4 sedan apply it to great effect while also integrating display screens within the center stack. Both scored highly in our competition as well.

But the TTS is spectacular for other reasons, such as the aggressively bolstered bucket seats covered in hot Express Red leather with diamond stitching, as well as the glistening brushed aluminum center console dressed up with red contrast stitching. The alluring TTS is far from practical, but sensibility sells few cars in this class.

BMW faced a tall challenge when its chief rival, Mercedes-Benz, launched the S-Class sedan a few years ago with a stunningly beautiful interior, setting the benchmark for luxury sedans.

But the Bavarians rose to the occasion and responded with an all-new 7-Series flagship that elevates the BMW interior design language and incorporates enough electronic wizardry to entertain a member of the Geek Squad for hours.

And despite what the new 7-Series interior represents as a departure from the past, there are enough familiar aspects to keep brand loyalists happy, such as the horizontal array of audio and climate controls in the center stack. The much-improved iDrive interface remains the go-to spot for most vehicle information, displayed on a 10.2-in. (26-cm) high-resolution touchscreen.

So many features put the 7-Series in the winner’s circle: the massaging seats, heated armrests, chestnut wood trim inlays, wireless phone charging, microsuede Alcantara headliner and the swirling lighted speaker grates for the outstanding Bowers & Wilkins sound system. Don’t forget gesture control, which lets the driver perform certain functions with a mere swipe of the hand.

Cadillac took a big chance when it ditched the name of its most popular vehicle, the SRX CUV, and called its replacement XT5.

This all-new XT5 rolled into a cage match with nine other finely appointed midsize luxury utes in this year’s competition and was among four to survive and make the list.

It does so with first-rate materials, such as satin-finish Rosewood trim, supple semi-Aniline Maple Sugar leather, rich metallic brightwork and velvety microsuede headliner, pillar trim and (on certain models) instrument panel.

Other features are impressive as well, such as the rear camera mirror, seamless connectivity of the Cadillac User Experience, bright head-up display, Ultraview panoramic sunroof and generally flawless fit-and-finish.

Amid all these elements, it’s easy to overlook how comfortable and ergonomically correct the XT5 is, whether in the reclining second row or seated in the driver’s seat, where the shifter and all controls are within easy reach. After climbing into a new XT5, Cadillac lovers will scarcely remember the SRX nameplate.