GM, Ford, Honda and DCX Honored in "Interior of the Year" Competition

Winners Unveiled at Auto Interiors Show

DETROIT, June 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The votes are in and the big winners at the 2007 Ward's "Interior of the Year" awards are models from General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler and Honda.

In all, 34 vehicles from 11 manufacturers were in contention to win an "Interior of the Year" award in the annual competition sponsored by Ward's AutoWorld magazine. The prestigious awards program is part of the annual Ward's Auto Interiors Show being held this week at Detroit's Cobo Center.

Winners were determined in two ways: the editorial staff of Ward's conducted a two-month review and analysis of the 34 nominated vehicles and selected the winners based on eight evaluation categories such as comfort, safety and design harmony. In addition, members of the auto industry at-large were encouraged to participate in a popular vote online at to see how they would evaluate the nominees compared to the Ward's judges. More than 1,400 popular votes were cast.

And the "Interior of the Year" winners are....

In the cars categories, Ward's editors voted the Honda Fit the best interior in Economy-Priced Cars; they also chose the Saturn Aura as best in Popular-Priced Cars; and the Volvo S80 as having the best interior in Premium- Priced Car category.

In light trucks, the Ward's judges selected the Honda CR-V as the winner in Popular-Priced CUV category; they agreed that the Cadillac SRX had the best interior in Premium-Priced CUV category; they also chose the Chevy Silverado as tops in Popular-Priced Trucks; and they selected the Lincoln Navigator as having the best interior in Premium-Priced Trucks.

The industry at-large winners

Voters in the industry at-large balloting agreed with Ward's editors in three categories: the Saturn Aura won in Popular-Priced Car; the Cadillac SRX took the Premium-Priced CUV category; and they voted the Chevy Silverado as best in the Popular-Priced Trucks category.

However, at-large voters went their separate way for the other vehicle categories. To them, the Dodge Caliber was the winner in the Economy-Priced Car category; the Saturn Outlook won in Popular-Priced CUV; and in Premium- Priced Trucks, the Cadillac Escalade took the honors.

     The vehicle awards are summarized in this table:

       Award Category      Ward's Editorial Staff   Industry At-Large Vote

     Economy-Priced Car         Honda Fit               Dodge Caliber
     Popular-Priced Car         Saturn Aura             Saturn Aura
     Premium-Priced Car         Volvo S80               Lincoln MKZ
     Popular-Priced CUV         Honda CRV               Saturn Outlook
     Premium-Priced CUV         Cadillac SRX            Cadillac SRX
     Popular-Priced Truck       Chevy Silverado         Chevy Silverado
     Premium-Priced Truck       Lincoln Navigator       Cadillac Escalade

Special Achievement Awards

In addition to the vehicle awards recognizing overall interiors, Ward's editors also singled out four categories for special achievement awards. These included Best Brand Expression, Best Interior Trim, Best Overall Comfort and even Best Cup Holder.

Winner of the Best Brand Expression award is the Jeep Wrangler; for Best Interior Trim is the Infiniti G35; Best Cup Holder goes to the Chrysler Sebring; and Best Overall Comfort is awarded to the Lexus LS 460L.

Awards Highlight Importance of Interiors to Vehicle Sales

With automotive interiors taking a leading role in brand differentiation and in winning over consumers, automakers are placing an increased emphasis on interiors. OEM spending on interior materials alone is projected to reach $10 billion by 2009, according to CSM Worldwide.

Further, a J.D. Power study showed interior comfort is the second most important factor in choosing a vehicle, ranking ahead of exterior styling and just behind reliability and durability. That's why automakers are eager to participate -- and win -- a Ward's Interior of the Year award. Last year, many of the winning manufacturers showcased their awards in new vehicle brochures and in national advertising to help attract consumers to their dealer showrooms.

As a result of the growing spotlight on the Interior of the Year Awards, Ward's instituted three fundamental changes this year. First, Ward's editors developed a quantitative selection process that evaluated vehicle interiors based on eight criteria to ensure the integrity, transparency and objectivity of the competition. Vehicle interiors were scored on each of the eight criteria which included material selection; ergonomics; driver information; safety; overall value; comfort; fit and finish; and aesthetics and design harmony.

Second, a new category -- Economy-Priced Cars under $17,000 -- was added. With rising fuel prices shifting consumers to more economical vehicles, Ward's editors felt it important to include the interiors of cars at the lower end of the price range.

Third, Ward's instituted a process for recognizing outstanding features and design choices instituted in new vehicles or vehicle interiors. These awards are designated "Special Achievements" and focus on areas deemed worthy of honor by a consensus of the Ward's judges.

About the Auto Interiors Show: Now in its 14th year, The Auto Interiors Show is presented by Ward's Automotive Group and is the industry's leading trade show and conference for vehicle interiors. It spotlights the latest innovations in vehicle technology and design to help suppliers respond to increasing OEM demands and changing consumer preferences. It features exhibits of leading suppliers who showcase trend setting products and materials with a view to the future of vehicle interiors. For complete information on the annual Ward's Auto Interiors Show, go to:

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