Gm, Ford, Honda, Dcx Win Top Awards in Wards

By: Iver Penn

General Motors - maker of quality , Ford, Honda and DaimlerChrysler were the proclaimed big winners at the 2007 Ward's "Interior of the Year" awards during the Ward's Auto Interiors Show that is being held this week at the Cobo Center in Detroit. From 11 manufacturers, 334 vehicles contended for an "Interior of the Year" award in the yearly competition sponsored by Ward's AutoWorld magazine.

The winners were determined in two ways. The first one is through the two-month review and analysis conducted on the 34 nominated vehicles by Ward's editorial staff. They selected the winners based on eight evaluation categories that include comfort, safety and design harmony. The other way was through online voting which encourage the auto industry at large to join and vote on the automakers that they want to win the 2007 Ward's "Interior of the Year" awards. Those who are interested to vote may log on to www.autiointeriors.com over 1,400 popular votes were cast.

Ward's editors chose the Honda Fit as the car with the best interior for the economy-priced car category; the Saturn Acura was chosen in the popular-priced car; while the Volvo S80 is the best in the premium-priced car category. The Honda CRV topped the editors' choices in the popular-priced CUV while the Cadillac SRX was chosen for the premium-priced CUV. The editors chose the Chevy Silverado for the popular-priced truck category; Lincoln Navigator got the "interior of the year" honors for the premium-priced truck category.

The industry at-large winners for the economy-priced car went to the Dodge Caliber, the Saturn Aura for the popular-priced car and the Lincoln MKZ for the premium-priced car category. The Saturn Outlook and the Cadillac SRX won the heart of the industry at-large and bested as the popular-priced CUV category and in the premium-priced CUV, respectively. As to the popular-priced truck, Chevy Silverado got the "interior of the year" award while the Cadillac Escalade got the award for the premium-priced truck category.

Aside from recognizing the overall interiors of the cars, the magazine also gave four special achievement awards in four categories: Best Brand Expression, Best Interior Trim, Best Overall Comfort and, the very minor yet uplifting award, Best Cup Holder.

The Jeep Wrangler got the Best Brand Expression award. The Infiniti G35 was named vehicle with Best Interior Trim. And according to the editors, the Chrysler Sebring has the best cup holder and the Lexus LS 460L gives the best overall comfort.

Car makers nowadays take on center stage the importance of interiors to vehicle sales. As a matter of fact, OEM spending on interior materials alone, according to CSM Worldwide, is estimated to reach $10 billion by 2009. Most modern consumers prefer those cars with great interiors because at a glance, those would give a hint on the comfort that the cars could give.

A J.D. Power study revealed that in choosing a vehicle, interior comfort is the next most important factor after reliability and durability; exterior styling comes next after interior comfort. This is the reason for car makers' eagerness to participate in and win a Ward's Interior of the Year award. In the previous year, many of the winning manufacturers exhibited their awards in new vehicle brochures and in national advertising. They believed that such strategy would help attract consumers to buy the cars.

For this year's awards, Ward's incorporated three basic changes. One is the development of a quantitative selection process. To assure that the integrity, transparency and impartiality of the competition is maintained; this process evaluated the interiors of the vehicles based on eight criteria that included material selection; ergonomics; driver information; safety; overall value; comfort; fit and finish; and aesthetics and design harmony.

The second fundamental change is the existence of a new category, the Economy-Priced Cars wherein vehicles under $17,000 could qualify. Ward's editors decided to add this new category to give importance to those cars which are severely needed due to the present day's infinite rise of fuel prices.

And the third is the institution of a process that would duly recognize outstanding features and detail choices incorporated in new vehicles or vehicle interiors. These fall under "special achievement" awards that highlight interior areas that are viewed by a consensus of the Ward's judges as worthy of honor.

About Ward's

For over 75 years, WARD'S has been part of the auto industry. It has news, data and analysis of products that virtually meet any information need.

About the Auto Interiors Show

Industry's leading trade show and conference for vehicle interiors, the Auto Interiors Show is hosted by Ward's Automotive Group. On it s14th year, it highlighted the latest innovations in vehicle technology and design in order to help suppliers respond to increasing OEM demands and changing consumer tastes. It has exhibits of leading suppliers who exude trend setting products and materials with a view to the future of vehicle interiors.


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