The formula for a best-in-class vehicle interior differs slightly from auto maker to auto maker. One may emphasize design, while another targets material selection and fit-and-finish.
Whatever the criteria for a world-class interior, automotive journalists and industry insiders don't seem to agree.
At the Auto Interiors show, presented by Ward's Communications in May at Detroit's Cobo Center, eight new '05 vehicles were awarded best-in-class honors: four European, three Detroit and one Asian brand.
A total of 81 automotive journalists from around the country picked the new Audi A4 and A6 as having the best interiors for popularly priced and premium cars, respectively, while theOdyssey minivan and 's Land Rover LR3 SUV were rated best in popularly priced and premium truck categories.
Meanwhile, more than 900 automotive engineers, designers and executives involved with the development of interiors — but who don't work directly for any of the auto makers — voted for a completely different set of winners. They picked theMustang, Cadillac STS, Hummer H3 and the new Mercedes M-Class SUV for each of the four categories.
Consumers and sales numbers will be the ultimate judge, but the awards likely will fuel a growing debate between the automotive media and Detroit-based auto makers over how vehicles are evaluated.
Corp. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz frequently complains journalists are biased toward foreign brands, while the media retorts that Detroit auto makers are too insular and are losing market share because they do not benchmark themselves against foreign brands enough.
Editors at Ward's, which recently acquired the show from VNU Expositions, nominated the 23 models.