Economy-Priced Car

  • Honda Fit
  • Nissan Cube
  • Smart Fortwo
  • Toyota Yaris 5-door Liftback

Popular-Priced Car

  • Ford Fusion Hybrid
  • Hyundai Elantra Touring wagon
  • Kia Soul
  • Mazda6
  • Mini Clubman S
  • Toyota Matrix
  • Volkswagen CC

Premium-Priced Car

  • Acura TL
  • Audi A4
  • BMW 7-Series
  • Hyundai Genesis
  • Lincoln MKS
  • Lincoln MKZ

Sports Car

  • Cadillac CTS-V
  • Dodge Challenger SRT8
  • Ford Mustang
  • Nissan 370Z Touring

Popular-Priced Truck

  • Chevrolet Traverse
  • Dodge Ram
  • Ford F-150 XLT
  • Honda Pilot
  • Kia Borrego
  • Toyota Venza
  • Volkswagen Tiguan

Premium-Priced Truck

  • BMW X6 50i
  • Cadillac Escalade Platinum
  • Ford Flex
  • Infiniti FX50
  • Lexus RX 450h
  • Mercedes GLK

Editors complete score sheets for each vehicle evaluated, awarding points – or subtracting them – based on the quality of materials used, fit and finish, ergonomics and comfort.

Points also are awarded based on the value of the vehicle relative to others in its category. The vehicle’s ability to communicate vital information to the driver is part of the evaluation process as well, especially the human-machine interface and its ease of use.

Safety is an important factor. Judges consult crash-test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, while also considering visibility, the application of airbags and the number of backseat head restraints in awarding points.

The most important category, worth 20 of the total 100 points, is aesthetics and design harmony. This can be extremely difficult to achieve for a vehicle program on a tight budget, but some auto makers manage nicely with clever touches that communicate readily a sense of cohesiveness for the interior design team.

Ward’s had hoped to evaluate several other vehicles for this year’s competition, but production schedules did not allow for some now launching, such as the Chevrolet Camaro, Honda Insight, Hyundai Genesis coupe and Audi Q5. Those vehicles will be eligible for evaluations in 2010.

Once the scores are tallied, Ward’s editors will meet in early April to select the Interior of the Year winners, which will be announced shortly thereafter.

The award ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. May 21 in the main ballroom at the Ritz Carlton.

tmurphy@wardsauto.com