The best places to be while on the road
There are a lot of aspects that make you love your car: the way it looks, how it drives, the features it possesses and what the interior is like. Yet, it's that last one that's arguably the most important -- whether you're on the open road or stuck in traffic, it's the one element you constantly see, touch and even smell.
Fortunately, many automakers recognize the importance of making their cars lovely places in which to reside. We've compiled a list of our absolute favorites when it comes to design, materials and distinctiveness. They're listed in alphabetical order, since they're all too different to put one ahead of another. Click ahead to see the places we most like to spend our time.
2018 Audi TT
While the Audi TT's interior isn't composed of the world's finest interior materials, its design, technology and various innovative elements really stand out. It features Audi's super-sharp and useful Virtual Cockpit for the instruments. It also puts a unique spin on its climate control system, with the displays and knobs integrated within the air vents that resemble jet turbines. Not only is this space efficient, it looks very cool.
The other thing we love about this interior is that it actually does away with a big center screen. All interactions with the infotainment system are displayed on the Virtual Cockpit. Admittedly, this can be annoying for a passenger who wants to adjust something, but it's so refreshing to see a clean dashboard, uncompromised by the need to wedge a display in the middle or the top. It's a classic look we'd love to see on other sports cars.
2019 BMW i3
The BMW i3 goes in the complete opposite direction of the classic TT, embracing the future wholeheartedly. In fact, we've talked about how great it is that the i3 feels like it's a car from 10 years into the future, despite being around since 2014.
Aside from the airy, futuristic interior, the BMW i3 excels with its use of distinctive materials. You'll find unique molded carbon fiber composite pieces that embrace the car's construction while providing visual interest. Door and dash plastics, those you don't really touch, are from recycled sources. Opting for higher trims brings in beautiful natural-finish open pore wood trim. There are some pretty nifty woven cloth upholstery options, too.
2018 Lamborghini Huracan
So we've covered the past and the future. Now we have the present. Well, at least what we imagine as the present for stealth fighter planes and the Lamborghini Huracan. The Huracan pushes our buttons with, well, awesome buttons. It has serious-looking toggle switches, and the starter button is safely tucked away behind an angry red safety cover.
Besides the sweet switch gear, the Huracan makes great use of geometric shapes, particularly hexagons, which can be found in the dash trim, the air vents and, again, the buttons. In addition to the overall design, we love how bright and colorful the interior can be, featuring the same vivid hues as the exterior.
2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar
Another vehicle that blends forward-looking modernity and excellent materials is the Range Rover Velar. This sleek SUV carries its striking design to the interior, where almost every control is replaced with large screens. Most interesting is the lower display that fits physical dials over the screen. It's a slick blend of classic and modern technology. An additional touch of technological flair is the upper screen that tilts upward when the car is turned on. Other Range Rovers now have this dual-screen interface, but it's in the Velar where it's the most well-integrated.
Besides the stylish interface, the interior is covered in high-end materials. There's leather all over the place, but it can be enhanced by a beautiful wool-like fabric called Kvadrat (pictured) that proves there's more than just cow hide out there that can create a sumptuous interior. There are also clever little details strewn about like the Union Jack perforations in the speaker grille and leather. Thankfully, they're more subtle than the Union Jack tributes on the latest Mini models.
2018 Lexus LC 500
The Lexus LC earns a spot on this list because it comes closer than most cars to giving drivers a concept car interior in real life. The shape is amazing and fluid, and the driver and passenger have unique parts. The driver has the doors and grab handle wrap inward toward him or her with contrasting faux suede, while the passenger's interior trim curves the opposite way, wrapped in beautiful leather.
The door handles extend outward, independent of any sort of locking mechanism, from doors molded and stitched with beautiful cascading lines. The instrument cluster features vibrant graphics and a moving central portion, admittedly shared with various Lexus F Sport models. And of course, there's the unique indigo, saddle brown and white color scheme shown here that definitely wasn't on offer in grandpa's Lexus. But if you want something more toned down, there are black, red, and saddle brown interiors available, too, that still manage to showcase this gorgeous interior.
2018 Lexus LS 500
Lexus is on a roll. The new LS channels a lot of the flowing concept of the LC, but does so in a more elegant way while also being considerably different than its many flagship luxury sedan competitors -- none of which suffer inside.
The materials are among the best in the business and the craftsmanship is meticulous, but it's the details that really matter. The air vents that blend in with the metal strakes that extend across the dash. The textured metal trim on the door that sprout the same handles found in the LC. The illuminated art-like trim panel next to the colossal display screen (regrettably connected to Lexus' frustrating Remote Touch controller). Every where you look or touch, the LS delights.
2018 Lincoln Navigator Black Label
The new Lincoln Navigator really turned over a new leaf for the brand with its stunning, almost Mid-Century Modern interior. It hit all the hallmarks of classic American luxury, with low, wide designs, loads of chrome, and fancy technology. It has big sharp screens for its instruments and infotainment, and offers those amazing 30-way adjustable seats.
The cream of the Navigator crop is the Black Label, though. The top-level trim comes with three specially designed interior color combinations with their own names. Our favorites are Yacht Club, a soft periwinkle blue interior with light wood and white accents, and Destination, shown here, with its deep red leather and cherry-like wood. The delicately embossed leather on the dash and the gold graphics in the wood trim above are particularly special. This is a cabin that makes you go "wow" every time you climb aboard.
2018 Mercedes-Maybach S560
We now come to what is objectively the most opulent interior on the list, that of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. There is nary a single interior panel that isn't wrapped in stitched bovine epidermis. Much of it, as you can see in the photo, gets the diamond-stitched treatment, too. Areas not covered in leather feature metal and wood trimmings.
The interior also features many of the great design touches found throughout the Mercedes range, such as buttons that blend into accents, elegant round air vents, lavish ambient lighting and large, bright screens. Of course, being a Mercedes-Maybach, there's also reclining seats in the back and some of the deepest, plushest floor mats you've ever seen.
2019 Ram 1500 Limited
We're still a little surprised to have a pickup truck of any sort featured in a list of favorite interiors, but it's for good reason. Ram really knocked its 2019 1500 interior out of the park, particularly in the higher Limited and Laramie Longhorn trims.
Pictured here is one of our favorite configurations, a 1500 Limited with the Indigo Frost color scheme. The combination actually reminds us of the Lincoln Navigator Yacht Club we mentioned earlier. It features soft leather and open-pore wood trim across an attractive, usable dashboard (in the Long Horn, that wood trim is branded with "Long Horn" using an actual brand).
The giant diamond at the center of this interior ring is the enormous 12-inch vertically oriented touchscreen. This would look right at home in a Tesla. And thankfully, it uses Fiat-Chrysler's ultra-responsive and easy-to-use UConnect infotainment operating system.
2019 Volvo V60
Capping off this list of mostly high-end cars and interiors is something a bit more attainable. While nearly every modern Volvo interior is deserving of a place on this list (the XC40 can have orange carpet for goodness sake), the one that has our attention right now is the City Weave interior available on the 2019 Volvo V60 wagon. Refreshingly, it's only available on the base-level V60 Momentum -- you don't have to pay top dollar to get the coolest-looking interior.
While it lacks some of the extra leather and metal trim of its higher-end siblings, the City Weave upholstery more than makes up for it with its soft, calm gray plaid pattern. And the rest of the interior design is just like that on other Volvos, full of simple shapes and designs with impeccable fit and finish.