ATLANTA, Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Award season is upon us, and the Internet is buzzing with who wore what and who made—and didn't make—the best-dressed list at each show. Celebrities aren't the only ones who can get glammed up, though. Some of this year's hottest cars are sporting luxurious new threads and accessories. In that spirit, the experts at Autotrader decided to give an award of their own: 10 Must-Experience Car Interiors for under $40,000.
"The interior can be just as important as the exterior when it comes to long-term happiness with a car," said Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader. "After all, that's where you spend most of your time. So we wanted to create a list with the best of the best interiors you can have for a reasonable price."
Factoring in style, comfort, design and technology, the Autotrader editors' picks for the 10 Must-Experience Car Interiors Under $40,000 are:
- 2016 Acura RDX: Function dominates form in the latest RDX's cabin, where the control layout is beautifully practical. We like how the center control stack is pulled forward for easy access, and we like the RDX's dual-screen setup. And then, there are the materials. The RDX benefits from soft, comfortable seats, trim that's vastly improved compared to its predecessor and a fairly sizable back seat. You can't buy many luxury SUVs for under $40,000, but with the RDX, you can have one with a handsome, well-designed cabin.
- 2017 Buick LaCrosse: The Buick LaCrosse has been fully redesigned for 2017, and we really like what Buick has done to the car's cabin. Of course, you have the usual plush seats, trim improvements and roomy back seat, but the star of the LaCrosse's update is a handsome, sweeping dashboard that makes the Buick look like a far more expensive luxury sedan than it is. It keeps gadget access in the infotainment system to remove clutter from the dashboard, ensuring that the cabin feels more relaxing and luxurious than any Buick before it.
- 2016 Chevrolet Camaro: We were a little disappointed when we saw early pictures of the updates to the Camaro for 2016, since the sports car hasn't received an especially thorough makeover on the outside. Then, we climbed inside. The new Camaro's interior blew us away, as it reminds us of a high-end luxury sports car. We also love the huge infotainment screen and the large driver information display mounted in the gauge cluster, two items proving the Camaro isn't just the "roast the tires" muscle car of years past.
- 2017 Ford Fusion: The latest model combines a high-end appearance with an all-business control layout. No, it isn't striking, but that's the point. The Fusion's serious, mature cabin now helps the sedan look like the luxury car that some of its high-end trim levels can be. We also like Ford's new SYNC 3 infotainment system, which contributes to our feeling that the Fusion offers one of the best interiors of any modern midsize sedan.
- 2016 Jaguar XE: While the Jaguar XE may not have the opulent cabin of the brand's high-end XJ luxury sedan, it isn't far off, so you can have luxurious touches without paying a fortune. In addition to Jaguar's unique rotary shift knob, which rises from the center console when you start the car, you also receive handsome trim, a full-color screen in the gauge cluster and an array of buttons and switches that stand up to the XE's best German rivals.
- 2016 Kia Optima: The Kia Optima has been fully redesigned for 2016, sporting a new cabin with nicer materials and a better control layout. The center control stack could almost be mistaken for a BMW's, and that, combined with supple leather upholstery and a roomy interior, makes the Optima an obvious choice for this list. Is it better than the 2017 Ford Fusion? Hard to say, but there's no doubt both models outdo the "old guard" midsize sedans.
- 2016 Lexus NX: Although the jury is still out about the Lexus NX's unusual exterior styling, we're thrilled with how the SUV turned out on the inside. The NX has a far more youthful, modern look than many other Lexus models. While we could see car reviewers in 2026 calling the NX's interior "too 2016," that's the fate of trendsetters, and this term perfectly describes the NX's cabin. Adding to its appeal are firm, but comfortable, sport seats and a long list of high-tech features to further attract young shoppers.
- 2016 Lincoln MKC: The MKC is simple and traditional, but it offers smooth lines and high-end surfaces just about everywhere you might look or touch. We also appreciate Lincoln's wide variety of colors and textures, which can make the MKC's cabin look anything from sporty to opulent. Then, there's the SUV's excellent ride quality, which works in tandem with its soft leather seats. It may not be daring or cutting-edge, but the MKC's interior is an excellent place in which to spend time.
- 2016 Nissan Murano: The Murano's cabin stands out above its rivals. We like the thick steering wheel, the easy-to-reach controls and the high-end surfaces on upper-level trims, and we really like the screen mounted in the gauge cluster, which is handsome and easy to read. Then, there are the zero-gravity seats, which earn our version of a "Best Supporting" award. We initially thought they were a gimmick until we tried them for ourselves; it turns out they're great on long trips, leaving you without the slightest bit of soreness after hours behind the wheel.
- 2016 Toyota Prius: Climb into the redesigned Prius for the first time and you might think you're in a concept car, but you're not. Instead, you're in the latest version of the fuel-sipping hatchback, one with a large center touchscreen, a huge information center at the base of the windshield and some glossy trim that makes you feel like you're driving around in the future. While the unusual rake of the windshield and the strange dual rear window setup may take some getting used to, we think the latest Prius has one of the coolest and most exciting car interiors you can have for under $40,000.
For more details on our top picks, check out the 10 Must-Experience Car Interiors for Under $40,000 article online at Autotrader.com.
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