Sure, we get excited about muscle cars with a lot of horsepower, cars that hug corners, and those that boast sensuous styling.
But what really matters to us at the end of a day is just how comfortable a vehicle's interior is. What makes an interior special isn't just that it boasts comfortable seats or good utilization of available space, it's that it can make even an ordinary car, truck, SUV, or crossover feel genuinely special. That's easy enough to do at the upper end, where the extra cost of wrapping some trim in real leather or exotic wood is easy enough to absorb with a high sticker price.
We've also been impressed with the attention to detail found in some less pricey vehicles; in our ratings system, several vehicles that merit an 8 out of 10 or higher can be found for well under the average price of a new car today, which recently topped $34,000.
MORE: Here's how we rate cars
To earn points on our scale, cars need to provide good comfort for the number of seat belts allotted, they need to offer terrific utility given their intended missions and there needs to be exhibited a close attention to detail in terms of textures, materials, features, and conveniences.
While by historical standards there are no bad cars on the market today, there are some lousy interiors—even at higher price points. Usually, like in the case of the Alfa Romeo 4C, these demerits are countered by other virtues or priorities. But that's not to say that there aren't some lousy vehicles.
Here's a look at our highest-rated interiors and why we picked them. They're listed here in alphabetical order.
2017 Bentley BentaygaEnlarge Photo
Any car that offers a clock within a Toyota Camry's base price of the average new home price in the United States had better shine inside—and Bentley's first SUV certainly does. Even if we ignore the Bentayga's $160,000 (optional) Breitling clock, its inner trappings are as good as they get. And it wins points over the rest of the Bentley lineup for its cargo utility. Your suitcase has never been better pampered; let's just hope that your luggage is suitable and not something you bought on the clearance rack at Macy's.
2017 Bentley Mulsanne, Bavarian press drive 2016Enlarge Photo
Bentley merits a second mention here for its flagship four-door, which coddles like few other vehicles on earth. At over $300,000, it should be fancy—after all, this is a list of the best interiors on the market. We especially like the Mulsanne's available exotic materials that can be tastefully (or gaudily) matched to whatever a buyer's whim is this day. What sets the Mulsanne apart from other luxury cars is that it's supremely comfortable in every seat, too—especially in the rear, where the fold-out rear seat trays are as impressive for their mechanism as anything else.
2016 BMW 7-SeriesEnlarge Photo
After a couple of stumbles with its range-topping sedan, BMW is back in business—at least inside. This latest 7-Series is hugely advanced with its gesture control interface, but it's also calming and comfortable. It's the most seamless blend of serenity and technology on the market today. The BMW wows us with its abilities, yet it never overwhelms. Moreover, there's not a bad seat in the house and BMW is finally learning how to tastefully offer some exotic and daring interior trims and shades.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica - Best Car to Buy 2017Enlarge Photo