In the past week, I've driven new vehicles with the best and worst interiors in the business. The worst one? You can guess for yourself, but think lots of black plastic, nylon carpeting that would make Cher's wardrobe point and laugh, and plastic controls that snick and snap like an overachieving box of Rice Krispies.
But that car, at long last, is the huge exception. Car interiors have gotten so good, even the cheapest on the planet stand a fair chance of winning over shoppers just from the style and shape of their cabin. Think MINI's Cooper and Clubman--or even Scion's xB, with decent materials and way-cool bins for everything.
My own personal favorite is the King Ranch version of the Ford F-250. Sitting at least a foot above the useful slot at the ATM, with the diesel engine rumbling like a school bus, it would be difficult to see this as luxury transportation. This one's nothing like the Ford F100 that my father used to shuttle us around to sports and school. (For one thing, there's no blue dial telephone laying in the footwell...I still don't have an answer for that one.) Slip into it and the tailored Castaño leather fits so perfectly with the F-Series' style, you wonder why Ford hasn't tried a similar treatment on the Explorer or even on a passenger car. (That goes along with the mystery of why Ford keeps Harley editions to its trucks, and doesn't spread it over some passenger cars.) Yes, it's expensive, as it's part of a $3640 package, but that includes adjustable pedals, big mirrors and a power sliding rear window.
There's one other car that wows me with its bargain-luxe treatment - the Saturn Aura, with its morocco-brown leather. You can't find a finish as nice as this unless you customize your Conti GT, and from what I gather, that job's roughly the price of the entire Saturn sedan.
We're interested in what you have to say. (We're not the only ones looking at interiors. Winding Road asked which interior you liked best the other day, drat them.) What's your favorite car interior? Tell us in a comment below. And while you're at it, tell us which one you like the least.