By on February 15, 2019

car interior

TTAC Commentator NoChryslers writes:

Enjoy the website very much… so here are some questions.

  1. Why are interior and exterior color choices so limited right now? You have to pay extra for anything special. (Even then, good luck getting the carpet to match the drapes — SM) Seems to have started in the ’90s and we’ve been grayscale ever since!
  2. What happened to all of the convertibles?
  3. How do we stop the SUV/crossover tsunami?

Sajeev answers:

Let’s hope these good questions make for a lively discussion in the comments!

Question 1: It’s always about the money, honey!

Remember Henry Ford’s famous quote and look at Tesla: struggling to show signs of consistent quarterly profit capabilities via streamlining color options.

But it’s not all about “production hell” with startup manufacturers. You’re right when you said 1990s cars got boring, because they added seriously expensive-to-make stuff. There’s widespread adoption of four-channel anti-lock brakes, traction control, dual airbags, variable ratio steering, mass-air flowing fuel-injection, 80+ watt CD-playing audio systems, four-wheel disc brakes, even aluminum intensive engines/chassis/suspensions. There’s money saved in computer-assisted everything along the supply chain, but we’re still stretching the budget.

It put us down a path of boring and blah colors to go with today’s mandated standard backup camera and eleventy billion safety features, son!!! 

A fine example of the era’s decline is the 1996 Ford Taurus — read the book about it. Then consider the purple or booger money green interior. If you did, everything was color matched: seat controls, consoles, handles, the entire door panels and dash (no cost saving black inserts!) carpets, grab handles, etc. And there was plenty of aforementioned tech: airbags, ABS, all-aluminum four-cam engine, variable rate steering, etc.

So this was the best of both worlds? Of course not!

Bizarre styling aside, the 1996 Taurus was rightly panned for expensive window dressings that nobody cares about, and the subsequent undue burden to the entry level (and fleet) buyer. Check out those triple stitched leather seats with leather covering the sides and back (i.e. not mere leather seating surfaces), JBL-licensed tweeters behind metal grilles, even chrome-plated alloy wheels! The costs trickled down: the base model had a complex and cost-prohibitive flip-out console (that also came in green), soft-touch plastics everywhere (even the glovebox) and a strong number of standard features. Enter the value-laden Taurus G, complete with deleted rear arm rest, no cruise control, and even a black B-pillar delete: a harbinger of the future, cost-engineered 2000+ model. Perhaps Ford shoulda kept adding content while avoiding foolish acquisitions?

This story and the underlying, surprisingly luxurious ownership experience is why the 1996-1999 Taurus is a seriously under-appreciated vehicle, but my digression goes too far now! 

Question 2: convertibles cannot exist without a symbiotic relationship via sister ship in a profitable coupe. And often a sedan, be it BMW 3 Series or Chrysler Sebring! And we all know the Buick Cascada’s fate was sealed when PSA got its hands on Opel.

So no soup for you, unless you like Mustangs, Camaros, BMW 3 Series, or can swing the lease on a higher echelon Mercedes-Benz. Or stomach the repairs on the latter when fully depreciated.

Question 3: Just give up — and please believe some examples are both practical and enjoyable for a daily commute. What helped me was taking off my glasses, squinting a bit, and mentally overlaying a Chrysler Airflow to the side profile of any CUV.  Sure, the Airflow has delicious rear-wheel drive proportions, but aside from the stubby nose, most crossovers are just the progressive 1930s and mainstream early 1940s whips all over again.

Go play L.A. Noire and hug your Equinox after.

[Image: Shutterstock user rivermo74]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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83 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Times They Are a-Changin’...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Cars are constantly changing and evolving, cars are also much better today then they were 20 years ago, so you may not get every car in every color you’ll probably get a pretty decent vehicle that will last you until everyone decides they want something “different”

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I miss interiors with actual colors. I always found a black car with a maroon or whorehouse red interior to be quite striking. And blue was such a great interior color that for a while there a majority of cars had a blue interior. And green interiors totally work so long as the exterior color is complimentary.
    Of course, if you sit your butt in any Mercedes or Lexus from 15-20 years ago and you will find a gray or beige interior done spectacularly. The same colors in a 2002 Impala or Caliber will make you puke the moment you enter the car.

    • 0 avatar
      ACCvsBig10

      Yea dont know how we locked into black interiors or seats in particular. Considering that vehicles sit around for the majority of their lives, having dark seats especially leather just absorb and steam heat when sitting around in the sun. It could be 80 outside and over 100 inside car after sitting for a few hours. Yet that seems to be the only color combo you can find at dealerships in the south.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      My 95 Thunderbird LX is black with the whorehouse red, formally known as Firethorne interior. It has held up well over the years and still looks great. I still get complements on it so I don’t think many people think it’s odd. I wish there was a bit more choice of colors on new models.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I’ve always heard it as “bordello red”

    • 0 avatar
      BrentinWA

      I just bought a Black Label trim, Lincoln Continental with a BLUE interior.. technically, a “Rhapsody in Blue interior theme.” The three main factors that attracted me to the car; it had a real name, not numbers and letters, it was a proper car with a cargo area separate from the passenger cabin and the #1 reason…. BLUE INTERIOR!

    • 0 avatar
      macmcmacmac

      I remember we had an early 90’s mint green Taurus with dark green interior on the lot in 99. You couldn’t give that car away to a hound dog if you filled it with steaks. I had a perverse liking for the thing though. Green is my favorite color, in all its hues.

  • avatar
    RSF

    Question 1: Even a basic paint isn’t cheap, and adding the pearl or flakes cost a lot of money. So it’s logical to charge more for those. Why are colors so limited? The easiest colors to sell are always white and black. Try selling a red Buick or Lexus, or a blue Mercedes, for example.

    Question 2: What Sajeev said!

    Question 3: The market speaks and that’s what people want. When demand moves on to something else that’s what manufacturers will offer.

    • 0 avatar
      macmcmacmac

      The easiest colour I had to mix was Chrysler Kalapana Black. It had one ingredient, black, which was not the case for any other manufacturers black, if I recall correctly. Some factory colours are amazingly complex to mix, requiring as many as 10 different hues to get right, some added in hundredths of an ounce per liter. I mixed paint for a summer at a local auto supply shop, amongst other duties.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My uncle had a collision with a deer in his late 70s Lesabre coupe. His cousin owned a body shop and handled the repair. New front bumper, grille and headlight surround, one fender. This was the 90s and the car’s paint was chalky red.

        Somehow he made the paint match the old paint. I always wanted to ask him how he made the parts come out chalky.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I miss red and blue interiors but I do understand the cost savings of not offering a multitude of interior colors. My main complaint is many vehicles today only offer black interiors and not an option of gray or tan. Don’t really like a black interior in the Summer heat.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The ’96 Taurus had great content, good materials, and nice body assembly. But the de-contented Toyota Camry had just been redesigned with cost-cutting as a major priority. It didn’t hurt that the Camry, despite not aging nearly as well as the prior generation, kept the reliability up even as the material quality sank. So the new Taurus had to fight a losing battle with the Toyota. The ovoid styling didn’t help its cause either.

    There is a lot of money to be saved by not having to produce all those parts in every color combination. So basic colors have become the norm. If you look carefully you can see various things done with the express intent to save money:

    1. Car bodies are no longer made with the C pillar integrated with the roof seamlessly. Now a filler strip that runs the length of the roof is used.
    2. Goodbye folding side mirrors
    3. No trim around windows – just an opening that a robot can stuff a piece of glass into.
    4. No more articulating trunk hinges – back to the gooseneck type that interfere with luggage.
    5. Drive by wire controls have replaced cable operations

    I could go on but you get the idea – saving costs is going to drive the bus. So, forget whorehouse red interiors with matching interior parts. Basic grey or black that can be used with any color combination is what you get.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      It’s been years since I’ve seen a car without folding side mirrors (the only one that comes to mind is the Camaro). If anything they’re far more prevalent than they ever have been due to the same car being sold all over the world and folding mirrors being a necessity in Europe and Asia.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Cars don’t have folding side mirrors? Since when?

      And I know everyone loves to talk about the pre-’97 Camry because it was basically a luxury car meant to shock the industry (and it did) but the ’97-’01 Camry was still light years ahead of that ’96 Taurus in build quality. Sit in one today and there’s no comparison in how the materials have held up.

      But the build quality has nothing to do with the sales drop-off relative to the Camry. It was the styling and big price bump that caused the Taurus sales to plummet, no question. People will definitely buy inferior cars as long as they’re not ugly. And that ’92-’95 Taurus, barely updated from its 80s debut, was selling on style and price. Then 1996 came along and you get the same engine in a heavier, wacky looking car and Ford wants you to pay a lot more for it. So right off the bat, 51% of 1996 Tauruses went to fleets. Fifty. One. Percent. It was just such a colossal misfire, you can’t help but laugh.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        …But the build quality has nothing to do with the sales drop-off relative to the Camry. It was the styling and big price bump that caused the Taurus sales to plummet…

        Agreed.

        The all oval Taurus was a bridge too far. The glass, the infotainment system, the lighting, the front clip view, Hell if they could have made the wheels oval they would have.

        The Camry it competed against was a step down from ’96 from content and material standpoint, but the styling was more conservative and the decontented materials held up better. My sister retired her ’97 about a year ago with over 250K miles. The deferred maintenance list got too long and wasn’t worth addressing in her mind. Body and interior? Only the driver seat showed any real wear, and it was the padding, not the material. Mechanically (engine/tranny) was issue free.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I can remember that the first year of the 6th-Gen Accord from 1998 had fixed mirrors, and the following year, the mirrors in the DX may have been fixed; by 2000, all Accords had folding mirrors.

        As for interior color, even with the black, beige or gray interior, everything below the bottom of the dashboard and seat bottoms is going to be black (and the carpet is going to be the quality of Michael’s-grade felt, along with floormats that’ll wear through after six months of use, so some sort of heavier-duty mat is almost a necessity). Cripes, even seatbelts aren’t color-keyed anymore as a rule!

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        In the early 2000s, even GM W bodies had folding side mirrors. Cars that fit into that category don’t have them anymore. Yes, high line cars and some more pedestrian models in premium trim do have them. But 20 years ago virtually all mainstream non-economy cars had them. Today they do not. I stand by the comment.

        • 0 avatar
          ptschett

          It’s probably luck of the draw, but the early 2000’s is about when I remember folding mirrors starting to show up as a feature. My family’s ’70’s cars (e.g. Olds 98, my grandma’s Cougar) had the mirror on a stalk on the door; the ’80’s cars (my parents’ Century, my grandparents’ 4.5L and 4.9L de Villes) had the fixed pod at the front of the window opening that continued into the ’90’s cars (my Thunderbird, my parents’ ’92 and ’93 Sevilles.) The DTS my grandpa bought in ’05/’06ish is the first car I remember we had that had folding mirrors.

  • avatar
    cpmanx

    OK, here are the real answers.

    1. Consumer preference. Not enough people want colorful interiors to justify the cost of creating them in mass market cars.

    2. Customer preference. Convertible sales are small and dropping.

    3. Customer preference. Brands that offer a lot of SUVs are thriving. Brands that don’t are losing sales. Unfortunately, this is what most buyers want right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Exactly, we talk a lot about this, but in reality car companies only build what people buy. Right now they want tall 4WD wagons and trucks, when the public stops buying these car companies will make something different

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        Baruth covered this. The manufacturers’ customer is the dealer, not the consumer. The dealers prefer the bland, that doesn’t mean that consumers do.

        • 0 avatar

          Ding-ding. Colors are for custom orders. Take a look at the VW Germany or England websites. There, most cars are built to order. There is an absolute rainbow of colors-not our grey, blue grey, silver grey, black and white. The Sales Manager knows that you might NOT buy a car because of color but probably won’t say no to bland if the price is good. At the higher tiers in the US, there are plenty of colors (MB/BMW) but you need to order the car….or it’s sales manager Grey, lux interior, leather, and no sports options….

        • 0 avatar
          Dartdude

          You are right on, That is why you can’t find manual trans on dealers lot. Go to any car manufacture’s web site and try to build your car and you will that very few dealers will have your choice in stock. If manufactures paid a attention to their web site’s build page. We have more choices.You would be surprised to see what people will buy if given the choice.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I think the lack of color has more to do with “customer apathy” than actual preference.

      If I had a magic machine that let everyone choose the exterior/interior colors they wanted for $0 I’d be surprised if gray/black was the #1 choice. However, most people just don’t care about color to really shop around and dealers prefer to stock the least objectionable combinations.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        YOU ARE NOT THE CUSTOMER

        The dealer is the customer. Do you think the dealers like having lots of different color combos or possibly getting stuck with an unusual color combo that only us enthusiasts love? Or unusual/unpopular body styles?

        Of course not!

        I’m crushing on the TourX but my local Buick/GMC dealer would probably trade the 2 he’s got for a couple more Terrains or even Envisions in a heartbeat if the the next dealer over contacted him.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          I haven’t looked closely at sales numbers, but I wonder how many people interested in the Envision (or one of the Chinese-built Volvos) actually go through with the purchase or lease once (or if) they find out the vehicle’s origins. I would think that the majority, like the majority of the B&B, would be put-off by it, but there’s people who don’t have a problem with it. (I didn’t get to the auto show this year, but when I have sat in an Envision, it struck me as at least competent, and not a penalty box; the devil is in the rest of the details!)

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @sgeffe, here in Gallup the Envision seems to be selling to the older set who think an Encore is too small or the sort of older female you would have found in a Lesabre pre-2005.

            Think of your widowed aunt who largely putters around town unless she needs to go visit the grand kids.

      • 0 avatar
        hondah35

        The problem is resale value. A lot of customers shop with resale value in the back of their mind and they don’t want to be stuck unloading the car with the blue interior that was only on 3% of the units ordered vs. 97% for black or tan.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “Consumer (dealer) preference”?

      You mean to tell me automakers don’t just force whatever they want (or don’t want), or would drive personally, down our throats??

      Shocking..

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      “1. Consumer preference. Not enough people want colorful interiors to justify the cost of creating them in mass market cars.”

      Its not that customers don’t want color, it is that they want to drive home their new car today and are willing to take whatever is on the lot today. Dealers want cars that will turn and so they really want as few choices as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        ^ This!

        Some people are so excited to get rid of their old POS, or are so hooked by the new-car smell that they don’t care! Or they need something quick after their old car’s been totaled.

        So yes, it’s a question of what metal will move the fastest, and how willing the manufacturer is to meet that objective (allocation of trims as well as colors). Easier done with Hondas than F-150s! (I can’t imagine how Ford figures out those allocations! Or are they more open to factory orders?)

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        When I was car shopping last summer, I passed on a bunch of cars solely due to them being silver/gray/black/white. I could have had a silver one equipped exactly as I wanted for a great price, but I’m done with silver anything. I spent quite a while looking at local dealers’ websites seeing the above no color cars, or ones in horrible colors like Baby S**t Green, AKA F8 Green. It’s weird, in the lower end cars (Challengers) the local dealers had plenty of color choices, but once you got above an R/T the colors seemed to disappear. I wanted yellow, and found one at a dealership about 100 miles away. It got bought as my local dealer was waiting on hold to grab it for me. The car I bought, a Scat Pack in TorRed, came from a dealer almost 90 miles away. That dealer seems to have his act together when ordering cars that people seem to want to buy. My car, and it’s identically equipped different colored siblings were equipped exactly as I wanted it to be. A8 trans, leather, dynamics package (Hellcat brakes, wheels and tires), the HK stereo (disappointing to put it mildly), and NO sunroof. Finding a car like that in the Toledo area was/is almost impossible. Go 100 miles in any direction, you can find them. I don’t get it. As far as interiors go, I don’t want any color but black. I had a maroon car years ago with “camel” interior, and I just hated it. I only bought it because a relative made me a great deal on it.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I am making it a point to buy a car with a non grayscale exterior/interior next go round. Dark blue over camel brown would be ideal.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      This was exactly the color combo I bought on my truck last year. Good choice.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’ve noticed the Malibu Premiere has available a black/brown interior combo and one of the dealers in Albuquerque even has one with that interior and the Cajun Red Tintcoat paint.

        Striking indeed.

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        Exactly the color of combo of our Sienna and Disco Sport.We had to get both from Illinois.I suppose their dealers have better taste than ours.
        Incidentally, Principal, have you test driven the TourX? I’m curious as to whether or not the chassis is as floppy as the magazine reviewers say it is.I think it’s the best looking wagon on the market, but I’ve not seen the Jag in real life(and probably never will)

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          So my short list for next vehicle includes the TourX. (Haven’t driven it)

          A couple of things to keep in mind for reference though. I’ve been stuck behind the wheel of a 2nd gen Highlander for the past 4.5 years. That vehicle is dead on center and a little floaty but actually does ok if you try to drive it at 8-9/10s on an on/off ramp. (Which of course is not how 99.9999999999% of owners will ever drive it.)

          The other thing to consider is that I personally believe the box B-body wagons to be the greatest wagons of all time. And I’ve driven every iteration from Caprice to Custom Cruiser to Parisienne/Safari to Lesabre Estate.

          If I can feel a TourX torque vectoring when I’m taking the cloverleaf at speeds in excess of the little yellow recommendation, if it is quiet and stable at 75-85 mph, if it can swallow as much stuff as the stat sheet suggests, I’m going to be smitten.

          • 0 avatar
            Blackcloud_9

            Hey Dan,
            Just drove a TourX a few weeks ago during my current car search and found it quite enjoyable. The 2.0 turbo got out of its own way quite nicely and had plenty of get-up-and-go off the line. I didn’t get a chance to do the “cloverleaf” test but I did get to take it down my “favorite” bumpy road to test the ride quality – very smooth. This road was a shortcut I often took on my daily commute and would normally set my teeth-a-chattering in my (now former) Kia Soul.
            And the Roija Red on the TourX is Epic!

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            My local dealer has 2 TourX – a 2018 Preferred in Roja Red and a 2019 Essence in that sage-y green. If he can’t sell them during February’s snow storms I predict they’ll still be there come summer.

            Ironically he’s having no trouble selling FWD Regal sportbacks (Preferred largely) and always has 2 in stock with a rotation of colors when one sells and another takes it place.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Bingo! My current C7 has a Laguna Blue exterior with a Brownstone interior. Would I have accepted other color combinations? I guess… but since I had the choice I picked something that was actually attractive and interesting. I get many compliments on it. The interior is far from monotone, its has several shades of brown (leather and suede plus carpet), along with aluminum and carbon fiber trim plus standard black plastic.

      My last car was orange so I am always seeking out real colors. I’ve had black, white and silver – never again! Black: too hot and only looks good with a mirror like coat of wax. White: doesn’t stand out, gets dirty as soon as a cloud passes overhead. Silver: the “I give up” color. I bought my truck like this because I knew it would spend its life dirty and silver hides pretty much everything. In retrospect I should have gotten two tone, light blue above with tan below as that was an option.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Of course the lack of color choice these days is primarily driven by Finance types in the executive suite. It is cheaper to design, procure, inventory and make only a few color combos than many. The other thing to note is that manufacturers no longer make 1 million or more of a model in any given year, which did a lot to spread the extra costs of color choices over a large number of vehicles. When you are selling 10,000-20,000 copies of a car in a model year the choices have to be limited or you become non-competitive in cost. Finally, manufacturers noticed that buyers are willing to take black or beige interiors with nary a whimper. Where I live it is near-impossible to find a new vehicle in dealer stock that has an interior that is not black, yet people still buy them. Until and unless consumers stop accepting the lack of choice and some manufacturer decides to jump back into the color game to differentiate themselves, this is the bland future.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Automation: it is easy for a human to put on parts following a list. It is a lot of work to reprogram the robot every time something change instead of making 1000 of the same combination.

      So, we get 1000 of each combination, and you better pay for it if you want something unique (human intervention).

      • 0 avatar
        hondah35

        And not to mention spare parts availability. It’s a lot easier to stock interior parts in just black or maybe beige as well than stocking 5 different interior colors.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    I see the color thing as a multitude of factors.

    1. It is significantly easier/cheaper from the OEM standpoint if every car uses the same interior pieces. Instead of making 75% in basic black and 25% split between special colors.
    2. Customers are less likely to order the exact combination they want, rather they will settle on the inoffensive combination that the dealer has in inventory.
    3. The dealer has many more tools to incentivize the purchase of something sitting on the lot vs a special order. I’m sure there is a very small subset of buyers willing to pay full sticker or close for their custom ordered combination rather than accept the “screaming deal” on the grey scale blah-mobile already on the dealer lot.

    Case in point, I am a VW guy, it is a family business. I have looked at the lineup, and decided what really strikes me is a strange combination. A Golf Alltrack in dark green with a brown interior and a 6speed transmission. Not surprisingly, the nearest one in stock somewhere is 600 miles away. In the end I would have to special order to get my combination, and I am hesitant to order something I have not seen in person.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Honda has a nice red called Radiant Red Metallic which nicely hides some of the more awkward details on the Accord’s exterior. But finding a top-level Touring 2.0T trim in that color is nearly impossible, so I’ll have a factory order placed. (With my 2013, I wanted the “brochure color” of Modern Steel Metallic, but the Touring trims weren’t being produced in significant numbers, so that car was also ordered.)

  • avatar
    MrMem0ry

    I get that it is more cost-effective to offer a reduced number of interior colors. But what I don’t like is that some manufacturers don’t offer you the choice of color combination. Example, I had a 2007 Civic; I wanted white with the black interior. That was unavailable; only the gold interior came with white–unless you bought a Civic SI! Another example is a 2014 Subaru Forester; we wanted white with black interior. Not available, unless you bought a Forester XT turbo! The black interior was available with other colors, so it’s not like they don’t have the parts, so I don’t quite get it.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    I’ve seen the FoMoCo green interiors, and I owned a Town Car with very BLUE guts. I don’t love all-black interiors, or gray, but as long as there are dark brown choices I am pretty happy with that.

    As for that LS400 interior pictured above, I’ve always wanted an LS with cloth (have had several of course with leather)…..years ago I found one for sale not too far away, it was dark gray velour, and went to check it out. The car was a little rougher than the ad had indicated, so I passed, but it remains the ONE cloth interior LS I’ve ever seen in person.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Town Car black with red leather interior was one of my dream cars for many years.

      GM currently offers a BRANDY interior for the Lacrosse but sadly they are thin on the ground. I’d love that with Carragreen Metallic.

      I had no idea cloth LS existed.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The Lacrosse Avenir is a seriously nice car. Too bad about that undefeatable stop/start.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I was just on Buick’s website and on the “Build & Price” they’re showing the Lacrosse MSRP with all of the rebates, cash back, etc applied…

          JC you could get a Lacrosse practically cheaper than a Regal right now. A low enough monthly payment could make me overlook something like stop/start.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Said it before, but LaCrosses are a LUDICROUS deal used.

            https://www.autonationbuickgmcwest.com/VehicleDetails/certified-2018-Buick-LaCrosse-FWD_Essence-Golden-CO/3366253203

            I’d take that car.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    1–The Mopar LX’s do offer some variety of interior colors. Yes the base color is black, with options of red, cinnamon, blue, grey, or white depending on whatever goodies they’re offering that year. If that doesn’t work for you, there’s always Katzkin who will make anything you want.

    2–convertibles still exist. Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Ford and Chevy still offer them.

    3–You can’t stop the trend. BUT, while demand for actual ‘cars’ is declining, it’s never going away entirely. Just like how coupes were declared ‘dead’ some while back that’s just hair on fire panicking. What REALLY happened is the weak and forgettable dreck got weeded out. Do you REALLY miss the W body Monte Carlo, the DSM Stratus/Sebring, etc? Will anyone miss numb, appliance grade Tauruses, Impalas or Fusions? For braindrad basic transportation, the camry/accord are the better commuter-bots. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Mopar LXs, Mustang, Camaro offer everything from affordable but stylish sedans and a coupe or death wish mobiles. Or if luxury is your thing more than sport then there are plenty of choices from the Europeans and Japanese.

    The new mass market everyday appliance is the CUV. Which is fine by me, as long as I can still get my Hemi Challenger/Charger/300. As an enthusiast, I personally don’t WANT muscle cars to get to be the ‘in thing’ among the masses again. That’s what led to them being dumbed down into fat, grotesque lousy performing PLCs. And that’s exactly what happened to sports utilities. At one time if you drove a Jeep CJ, Dodge Ramcharger, FJ-40 etc you were a rugged individualist, a cowboy, when dentists, soccer moms and sorority girls glommed onto that ‘image’…well now you got rav4s and Escapes. But Wranglers and 4Runners still exist. I guess Im saying it’s better to be a part of a small but passionate and vocal minority than part of the everyday masses.

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      My new Hemi Charger has a 100% black interior, the leather, the carpet, the headliner, the pillar trim (cloth BTW, which was a nice surprise)…..very dark in there with the window tint :)
      I ended up buying off the lot due to getting a killer deal, but I was planning to order one and you better believe it was gonna have the red-accented interior option.

      • 0 avatar
        MoparRocker74

        That red interior is pretty nice especially on a black car. My buddy recently bought a Scat Pack Charger in Octane red. The red interior is nice but if he’d have gone with Sepia (like a cinnamon or nutmeg shade) it would REALLY pop.

        I got lucky when I scored my ‘09 Challenger R/T: Deep Water Blue exterior, black leather interior with the mist grey inserts in the seats which is a relatively rare option. It really gives it a unique touch.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    1. I like a black interior , if it is accented with lots of wood. Lexus actually has some nice interior colours on the GS and RC.
    2. I’m a coupe man.
    3. If people bought only BOF SUVs, we’d all be much happier.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Yeah, well…

    I work for a multifranchise dealer conglomerate, and am actually in charge of ordering the inventory of five of their brands, which include American, European, and Japanese vehicles. I am good at what I do, and have always tried to offer an interesting product mix to our clientele.

    There ARE other interior offerings than gray or black available out there, but the fact is, quite often I get “bit” when I get too adventurous with interior color choices. People nowadays tend to stay away from light beige or white leather because it gets dirty (true, they are more high maintenance). Vehicles with red, brown, tan, blue interiors can be challenging at times to sell and, let’s face it, a dealer has to avoid slow moving inventory, as floor plan costs can get up there. So, in a perfect world, I would love to have a wide swatch of interior colors in my inventory, but the reality is that 90% of people veer towards vehicles with black or gray interiors, probably out of sheer practicality more than anything else…

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      Thanks for sharing your first-hand experience.

    • 0 avatar
      cicero1

      as a recent buyer i could not believe people would buy black cars with white/cream interiors. especially in the northern US (and all Canada) that gets snow – how they keep the interior from looking terrible is beyond me.

      • 0 avatar
        PandaBear

        Not sure about exterior but my mother in law refuse grey or black interior, and becomes hard to find in used.

        Her reason is she wants brightness instead of gloomy, and we don’t have snow here.

        She couldn’t believe people actually dislike cream / tan interior.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. I always do black interiors because of dirt, coffee stains, and life. People WILL get into the car with muddy shoes. I had one car with a camel interior, and while it was overall high quality, by the end of the car’s tenure at 120k, it was dirty. Likewise, a car with a light grey interior didn’t age as well. I was floored a few years back, when I rented an E class in Germany, and the car no only had a white on white interior, but no floor mats. A white rental car interior…I guess Germans are different. -but yeah, I’ll campaign for fun paint outside, but inside….coal cart black, thanks !

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Im only a Gen Xer, so I can imagine car shopping was probably frustrating pre interwebs. Nowadays, with the advent of really good dealer stock photos and E brochures you can get a really good idea of what your dream build will look like. I suppose we can thank consultants like Bark for that.
    Then you can tell your dealer what you want, give them a chance to make a trade, or fly and drive like we did with our Landy.We have only 1 LR dealership here so they weren’t really flexible on pricing or trading so my wife and I had a nice day trip to Chicago. But the Toyota dealer made a trade for the Ocean Blue over Chocolate Sienna without raising our price.
    My business partner demanded his new A5 be green with a chocolate interior , and a 6MT haha.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    The Sebring convertible was never actually related to the Sebring coupe – as MoparRocker mentioned, the coupes road on Mitsubishi platforms, while the convertible was derived from the Cirrus and later Sebring/200 sedan. Couple that with the oddball Nissan Murano Crosscab, and there is a (rare) history of 2-door convertibles derived from 4-doors. But, there’s not much demand for them anymore – I’m sure increasing crash standards don’t help.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    1) Resale and, hell, initial sale.
    2) Nobody bought them, and they suck, especially if you don’t live in SoCal.
    3) We don’t.

    (I mean, I say this as someone who has a tan interior in his car and would love red.

    But “I want – but don’t wanna pay extra!” doesn’t get you anything, ever, does it?)

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    While the notion that the dealers stock what they think they can sell is absolutely in play here, there is some chicken-or-egg as well.

    For car-as-appliance folks, maximizing resale or trade-in potential seems to have risen in priority from when I was a kid, and this leads to a silver Honda Accord with a black interior. And from a fleet perspective, having common interior parts streamlines maintenance, too.

    Obviously, this just feeds back into dealer ordering and it is now self-reinforcing for most of the business.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    The book CAR is an excellent look behind the curtain of the car development process; not only Ford, but it also explains in one chapter how Toyota came to own the mid-size segment. I re-read it often.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    thanks , I’m going to read that

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I am not a fan of green or red interiors, they look spooky and dorky in an old car, will take grey or black any day of the week.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    1. Why are interior and exterior color choices so limited right now? You have to pay extra for anything special.

    Because the average American doesn’t care very much about driving and the car is just an appliance. So why stand out? It’s also harder to clean most fancy colored interiors. Also, automakers drive their own demand by controlling what’s available. Simplifying interiors to just gray and black simplifies things on the assembly line.

    2. What happened to all of the convertibles?

    The last generation which thought these were cool – the Great Generation – has died off, or is too old to drive. Also, Federal side-impact standards and Hood crush zone requirements make most convertibles look ridiculous.

    3. How do we stop the SUV/crossover tsunami?

    Vote Democrat in 2020. They will probably get rid of them along with the farting cows and the airplanes in the Green New Deal!

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I miss red interiors the most. Something oddly comforting about them.

    It would be interesting if consumers were allowed to just custom pick everything how different it would be versus the dealership wanting something that was not polarizing they could sell to the masses without it being a dealbreaker.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Jeep Wrangler is still a convertible.

    • 0 avatar

      Ding-ding. Colors are for custom orders. Take a look at the VW Germany or England websites. There, most cars are built to order. There is an absolute rainbow of colors-not our grey, blue grey, silver grey, black and white. The Sales Manager knows that you might NOT buy a car because of color but probably won’t say no to bland if the price is good. At the higher tiers in the US, there are plenty of colors (MB/BMW) but you need to order the car….or it’s sales manager Grey, lux interior, leather, and no sports options….

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      Pete, I came here to say this. There’s even a four door one now.

      It makes me so happy that I can say “I’m about to buy a 2-door, 4-seater convertible with a 6-speed. Oh, and with electronically locking differentials, disconnecting sway bar, removable doors and low-range 4 x 4”

  • avatar

    You do not have this problem with Tesla – you build and order Teslas online and they will be delivered to you home.

  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    Let me go out far on a limb and state I loved the styling of the 96-99 Taurus. I thought the wagon was particularly well done, especially in dark green. I worked at a car dealership for awhile in 1999 which allowed me to sample a few with the OHC Duratec. It road so much better than my clapped-out 86 Topaz it convinced me to pick up a 99 Sable a few years later. Sadly, it had none of the styling charm of the Taurus, rather looking like squished ham sandwich in comparison. It also had the wheezy 3.0 OHV Vulcan which combined the performance of my previous Topaz with the fuel economy of my previous 5.0 LX. I hated it, and the Prairie Tan paintjob pretty much cemented in my mind as the car I liked least of all I have owned. It was a rushed purchase at a time in my life when I had little money to spare and my Mustang decided to shed one of it’s front wheels when the ball joint and control arm decided to divorce. It was an 87 in 2006, so was not worth putting money into. Got $1000 for it , as is, so not too bad in that way. The Sable was certainly the most “luxury” I had every owned though. Once the driver’s side wheel bearing began to howl 6 months after it had been replaced, and the garage said it needed $2500 of front end work, along with an exhaust and a new battery, I decided to Kidney Car it, even though it had only 140k on it. It was a harder decision to make than you would think, as I usually drive cars into dust before I give them last rites.

    • 0 avatar

      Duratec was a DOHC V6 engine and very reliable one. Vulcan was a trash. Ford made mistake with putting Vulcan in presumably premium car like Taurus, instead of coming up with modern DOHC I4 engine.

      I saw 96 Taurus first time at Moscow auto show and was impressed. It looked like nothing else and had some premium feel and back then bio-design ruled the world. Ford went to extreme styling but that’s very American thing if you consider cars of late 50s – 70s.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My main beef is with many car models offering a black only interior and those limiting gray and tan to few exterior color choices. If you have to compromise then offer a black dashboard to save some costs and to eliminate any window reflection on the dashboard. Try living with an all black interior in a hot climate even with air conditioning–a scorching hot interior after sitting in the hot sun for hours and longer to cool off the interior even when running the air conditioning at full blast with the window open to let the hot air out. I can live with a light gray or tan interior as the only additional choices but all black only is not a choice.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Many of us baby-boomers have hip or back problems at this stage, and an SUV or crossover makes an awful lot of sense. Fifty years ago I had trouble getting into a Lotus. Ten years back an RX7 nearly beat Me. I’m OK so far, but the day will come….

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