In recent years, consumers have come to expect attractive design in every household item, whether it is a washing machine, cell phone or the family taxi.

The '10 Chevrolet Equinox CUV, which is classified as a truck by the Environmental Protection Agency and Ward's, meets these rising expectations with an interior that is beautiful in addition to being feature-laden.

Tasteful use of color, handsome stitching on seats and armrests and purposeful styling throughout were a pleasant surprise to Ward's editors expecting another hum-drum family hauler.

At $33,435, our test vehicle was not inexpensive, but the high-quality materials, surfaces and textures still look like they belong in a more exclusive CUV. The luxurious atmosphere is enhanced at night by “ice-blue” ambient lighting surrounding the center stack and console.

The days of squeezing out costs with cheap materials and rat-fur headliners clearly are over at GM.

Designers did not skimp on safety or comfort, either. Six standard airbags helped the Equinox become a top safety pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2009.

What's more, both front and rear seats are extremely supportive, and there is lots of useful storage.

A closed bin in the instrument panel above the center stack is especially handy for stashing small and medium-size items and got raves from Ward's judges.

Ward's Automotive Reports Editor Eric Mayne, our in-house USB-port-location analyst, also gives the Equinox high marks for easy connectivity to personal music devices.

With honors from Ward's for both its engine and interior this year, the '10 Equinox now officially can be ruled a homerun for GM.