Special Coverage

2011 Wards 10 Best Interiors

We know what you’re thinking. Dodge? Charger? Best interior?

Forget what you think you know about Chrysler interiors, and this car in particular. The auto maker’s Fiat-led management has turned the U.S. auto maker inside-out.

The ’11 Charger Rallye Plus interior not only obliterates the car’s also-ran past, it raises the bar exponentially for the sport-sedan segment.

Bold color use makes an instant impression – a positive, exhilarating impression.

The “radar red” seats and door trim scream with the brashness expected of an American marque. “Very Dodge-like,” says judge and Ward’s editor James M. Amend. “Fits the brand.”

The seats score well on comfort, too. Front and rear, both of which are heated.

And for those really frosty days, there also is a heated steering wheel, which benefits from one of the most sensible audio-control solutions in the industry.

All Chrysler steering wheels feature finger-friendly toggles on the backsides of their cross-members. Volume on the right, station/track navigation on the left. Not new, but decidedly clever.

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But the car’s human-machine interface is new for ’11. Available also in the Dodge Journey cross/utility vehicle and the Charger’s Chrysler 300 platform-mate, the HMI is showcased by an 8.4-in. (21.3-cm) touchscreen, largest in the sedan segment.

Icons also are large and neatly arranged along the bottom for easy access to the climate controls and navigation through UConnect Touch, Chrysler’s upgraded infotainment system. And response is immediate.

The Blue Oval’s new MyFord Touch system, while arguably more elegant, has smaller “buttons” that react more slowly.

UConnect touch “might be the most intuitive HMI of the lot we tested,” Amend says.

Framing the screen is a distinctive piece of embossed aluminum trim that also surrounds the Charger’s stylish instrument cluster. The gauges, like the edges of the center-stack touchscreen, glow red to echo those audacious seats.

Factor in safety features such as a center-rear head restraint and the Charger’s interior inspires genuine confidence to complement its bravado.

“An absolute stunner of an interior,” says Ward’s editor Drew Winter. “Where has Chrysler been hiding these designers?”

emayne@wardsauto.com