By on July 22, 2019

The new Corvette showed up in a war-era hangar last week, wearing slinky new bodywork and an engine mounted amidships. This change has reliably rattled some corners of Vette fandom.

Another part of the new Chevy halo car that caused controversy? Its interior. The reconfigurable screen ahead of the driver was expected, given what’s being deployed now by the likes of Audi and a few others. But the rest of the Corvette cabin? Very surprising.

Which is today’s question: what production car interior, good or bad, has surprised you the most?

As for the new Corvette, it is — to put it mildly — driver focused. Passengers will have an easier time reaching the dash mounted stereo volume control in an S2000 than accessing the new Vette’s infotainment touchscreen. Given the C8’s intended performance deliverables, perhaps that’s a good thing.

But it’s that strip of buttons that have set most tongues wagging. Perched atop a tall ledge, they bisect the cabin like a surgeon’s scalpel. A bold design it most certainly is and it has, after all, gotten us talking. I truly cannot wait to see it in person.

What’s your pick for a production car interior, from any era, that you found most surprising?

 

[Image: General Motors]

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74 Comments on “QOTD: Department of the Interior?...”


  • avatar
    EBFlex

    The bad: New Explorer. It’s so poorly designed and then when you add the glued on tablet in portrait mode you really have to wonder if Ford designers are just that inept or legally blind.

    The Good: New Ram. Raised the bar so high compared to the rest of the competition it will be a challenge for them to reach it. Logically laid out, integrated screen, attention to detail that’s unmatched and a lot of professional reviews compare it to high end German sedans in terms of design and quality. It’s clear that Ram has actual designers working for them.

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      I looked at new trucks last week and you are right about the Ram. Hopefully the nice materials will hold up well in a few years. Also surprising to me was the Titan while although asthetically a little dull, it had very nice interior materials.

      Most disappointing were the GM’s where even the Denali trim was not anything special in my opinion.

      The Ford and Toyota interiors looked good from a distance but didn’t seem that nice once you got up close and personal (although the Toyota theoretically should hold up well).

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        Yes the GM interiors are just bad. Probably will be fine long term and are functional but after seeing what Ram did you wonder what GM was thinking. I think GM is taking a Ford approach and resting on their laurels.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Edit:

      I should have put Tesla under bad. No matter what you pay the interior in those circus tent fashion accessories is that of a Fisher Price Cozy Coupe. And the Cozy Coupe will last longer.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I hate to give DeadWeight any encouragement, but a few years ago I went Cadillac shopping with my dad who has been a lifelong Cadillac driver and we both came away thinking that all the Cadillac interiors were dull, cheap and uninspired, something you might expect from Chevy. I actually convinced my dad that a loaded Impala would give him everything a Cadillac would for a hell of a lot less money. He’s been very happy with his new Impala ever since

    • 0 avatar

      Where does that put the cheap awful Cadillac interiors of the 70s and 80s. You cannot say they were good interiors.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Are you kidding? All that whorehouse tufted crushed velour was the height of luxury

        • 0 avatar
          dividebytube

          hey now, dad’s old 77 and 81 Cadillacs had leather. And some really cheap GM switches, and a dash that felt like I could take it apart with my hands.

          But somehow it felt more luxurious than my friends 90s-era BMW 3-series, which was truly spartan.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            In circa 1976, one of my Old Man’s associates had the nerve to show up in a BMW and park it alongside all of the Caddies and Lincolns everyone else was driving.

            He suffered so much ‘ribbing’ that he got rid of the Bimmer that very week.

            Black plastic instrument panel, black leather interior, very few power options, a small(er) car, without a V8 engine. How can that compare to the luxury barges, with a plush velour, colour co-ordinated interior, power everything and total separation from the road when driving.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I find spartan, but made of top quality materials to be infinitely preferable to cheap faux luxury.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            Gotta side with krhodes1 here. Generally speaking:

            – I think there’s less qualitative difference today between interiors from Detroit, Europe, and Asia.

            – In the late ’70s and early ’80s, my impression was that:
            1) German cars skewed ascetic, but what was there was of high quality and was well-assembled. I can’t find a good picture of it, but the E28, e.g., had exposed metal on the interior roof pillars because BMW’s attitude was “Why would we cover that in something that might rattle?”
            2) Japanese cars were made of cheaper materials but were well assembled.
            3) American cars were the most plush but also the most poorly assembled and squeaky/rattly. For whatever reason, American interiors generally got worse from the early ’60s through the ’70s. I think they’ve since gotten much better.

            Obviously there’s a lot of wiggle room in those stereotypes depending on brand, year, model, trim level, and specific part. E.g., my recollection is that ’80s Cadillacs had leather that would shame most cars on the 2010s market.

            And let’s note that there are different aspects to the concepts of “luxury”, “premium”, and “comfort”. I favor soft seats, so for a cross-country drive, I’d opt for a 425-powered 5th-gen De Ville over the contemporary E21, E12, E23, or E23. (krhodes1 is probably face-palming if he’s reading this. :-) )

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        akear

        My dads ‘82 Fleetwood, that I learned to drive on, had a tan leather interior. The seats were more comfortable than anything on the market today. The car had all the state of the art tech of the time, and it felt like you were riding on a cloud.

        If the car existed today, it would still be my #1 choice of vehicle to take on a long road trip.

  • avatar
    wooootles

    Tesla 3’s interior is probably the most controversial of this era. Haven’t tried it for myself, and the Electrek types seem to love it (of course they would) but it just looks like a UI nightmare to me having to skim through that screen to do anything.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      What do you mean skim through?

      https://i.ytimg.com/vi/SKP2dGqvc6g/maxresdefault.jpg

      With Ram, Volvo, Tesla etc. once the screen gets big enough there is enough room to keep commonly used buttons on the screen all the time. I think some of the push back you hear is from people assuming the software for a 15″ screen is just a scaled up 6″ screen. Which it’s not. Or at least not when done right.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I have tried it on a test drive, and didn’t like it.

      Interestingly (for me), my Model 3 test drive caused me to get laser eye surgery the very next week – I couldn’t read most of the screen. I’m sure it would be readable with my ‘new’ eyes, but it still felt like information overload. I much prefer a few gauges. If I ever do get a Model 3 someday, I’ll have to get used to this change, but it was one of the many reasons I didn’t get the car at the time.

      Also, this display does *not* have the same effect as my 05 Scion xB1. That car’s speedo was center-mounted up on the dash instead of behind the steering wheel. Being tall, I liked it there because the steering wheel often eclipses much of the speedometer in other cars. Also, viewing that gauge required very little angular change or focal adjustment of the eyes from the road, unlike the Model 3 display.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I was out looking at getting a new car in the $40-$60k category. The dealership included Acura so I thought, “Hum, might as well take a look.” I got inside a TLX and was so horrified by the interior I just got up and walked out. It was shockingly terrible.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    ” Passengers will have an easier time reaching the dash mounted stereo volume control in an S2000 than accessing the new Vette’s infotainment touchscreen” – Passengers should be sitting still and enjoying the ride instead of annoying the driver by reaching for the volume control and if one should try to reach for the volume control the driver should nail it pinning the annoying passenger back in their seat!

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      If I’m not allowed to change music from my phone while I drive then it becomes the passengers responsibility, and if it takes two people to change the music then it increases distractions.

      • 0 avatar
        redgolf

        Hummer – here in Tennessee ( according to a recent law ) that will get you a ticket, holding in your hand or touching your phone, even in a holder more than once is strictly forbidden!Soon they will have drones flying around with infrared cameras tracking your every move, kinda like in China!

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          Gotta love BS laws that are symbolic and don’t address the issue.

          By that logic the state of Tennessee is saying that you are equally dangerous holding an ice cream sandwich in your hand as you are an electronic device.

          Holding things in your hand is not an issue.

          • 0 avatar
            redgolf

            EB – difference is that you don’t need to look and study an ice cream sandwich to see where your next bite is going to be , the bad would be trying to remove the wrapper as you go, that would now take two hands! ;-)

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    As soon as “real people” get a chance to start driving this car, it will become PAINFULLY EVIDENT how Guangzhou Motors LLC hammered the the starting price down to 60k for this class of vehicle (by adopting every supplier bid from “we’ll match your absolute lowest component bidder price straight out of China”).

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    p.s. – Prediction: This “all new” C8 Corvette will have major structural and electrical issues also, with a high probability of transmissions ones as well, consistent with those heard about during development. Guangzhou Motors most likely put a band-aid on those issues, especially those requiring a whole new approach to truly rectify, and stuck by the 7-18-19 reveal date.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    No one remembers the 1996 Ford Taurus and its festival of ovals? That center stack was truly nauseating.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Worst “surprise”: Jaguar XE. Just a pit of sadness.
    Best “surprise”: Chrysler 200C. When FCA wants to they can make a really nice interior.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Re: Chrysler 200 – all anyone wants to talk about is the tight back seat and coupe like roofline.

      I have a feeling that a V6 200 AWD would be quite the sleeper.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The problem with the 200 is that both engines used an early iteration of the ZF 9-speed. I’ve never driven one, but that transmission is especially maligned. I also have doubts that FCA is especially interested in providing continued consumer support for such a short lived car.

        A Pentastar powered Avenger or earlier 200(Sebring refresh) might be a better long term “sleeper”, although then you are stuck with the Cerberus-era trashcan interior materials.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I’m just commenting on “quickness” in a slightly mundane wrapper. I’ve heard that the 9-speed is a “learning” transmission so I don’t know if you or I driving it like we stole it for a few weeks would actually wake it up a little.

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          The ZF-9 is a fine transmission.

          It’s needed an excessive number of software updates but mechanically its fine.

          • 0 avatar
            tankinbeans

            I question whether it ever actually hits 9th gear. I had one as a rental for a week during one of my many trips to the dealer for niggling issues in the 300. It never hit 9th once as far as I can recall. That’s going up to 75 mph during normal driving. The ZF8 felt much better to me, and that’s discounting the additional 115ish hp.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          We have a ’14 Avenger with the V6. It is almost all soft touch on the inside, I think they refreshed that in 2013.

          The Pentastar is a good engine and ours has the 6 speed auto, I don’t know why it would need a 9 speed. I regularly get 27 mixed and 32 on long trips at 70-75.

          I hated the interior of the last gen 200 though. It looked OK, but the ergodynamics were really bad.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The good lord gave us an inventory of used $25K pushrod 500 hp V8 MR2s in about a year and all we can do is snivel about knob placements?

  • avatar
    7402

    I have a 2014 Subaru Forester with manual transmission. I can use all the controls in the car with winter gear on. All the dash controls can be operated with even heavy gloves on and my size twelve Zabrano hiking boots fit in the footwell with confident, roomy access to all three pedals.

    Three cheers for properly spaced big knobs and buttons.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Any predictions on how many of those will be “button blanks” on the base Vette?

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Interesting question. Though, I think a few strategically placed blanks would actually improve usability. Help you find your way around.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My only peeve is that GM (IMHO) has been getting worse about the “blanks”.

        My wife’s 2016 Terrain is a lower trim SLE model but they either designed a different panel for higher trim models or found clever ways to design a button to hide that there was a higher trim level with more features.

        Now GM is just getting kind of blatant about shoving the blank in your face.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Based on my C7 you’ll have at least four: heated and ventilated seats for the both the driver and passenger were optional. Most of the buttons are HVAC related.

      The interiors of the late 80’s early 90’s Hondas where close to perfection. Its been downhill ever since.

      GM is basically known for their crappy interiors which is one of reasons I avoided the previous generation Corvettes. But the C7 is actually very well done. The C8? Jury is still out until I sit in one. I’m thinking the row-o-buttons is actually lower then pictures make it look as the center console is pretty high up. Per GM’s engineers the reason for big center console is to stiffen the chassis without increasing the size of the door sills which makes entry difficult. Also likely leaves room for an optional AWD system? Or maybe all the cooling pipes are already routed here?

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Since they are reliably correlated to a lower final sale price, they are known at the dealerships as “blankety-blanks”.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    GM dusted off the interior from Pontiac Fiero for the 2020 Corvette.

  • avatar
    NG5

    Maybe the Tesla Model 3. While the Dashboard Tablet Wars have been heating up for a long time, I still find it astonishing that basic driver info would be on the corner of a center mounted tablet touch screen. Then again, central info isn’t that novel – I think the Yaris and Prius are similar. Nevertheless, the Model 3 seems egregious and especially undesirable on the basis of that interior choice.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      See my comment above; the Yaris and Prius are *not* similar to the Model 3. Those cars (and the Scion xB1 that I had) placed the speedo up near the windshield. This doesn’t require much eye adjustment to read.

      Instead, the Model 3 display is much farther to the right, and much closer to the driver, requiring a complete removal of your eyes from the road just to read speed, let alone many other functions.

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2019/07/qotd-department-of-the-interior/#comment-9775742

      • 0 avatar
        NG5

        I saw your comment just after writing. Thanks for your additional perspective and comparison to other central-info driving experiences. I should say then it was maybe too-broad to tar other vehicles with the same brush, and modify my comment. It seems a shame the ergonomics are so poor on that Model 3 screen design. I’ve never driven one (so me slagging them off is peak Internet Commenter), but I’ve peeked into a few curiously when I’ve seen them parked and watched videos while wondering how it would be to live with such an arrangement. It does make sense that a central screen positioned properly wouldn’t be a huge problem. So, I should rescind my lumping all central-ish-screens together.

        I agree with what you said about gauges as well. Ostensibly, I would be really interested in a very simple car with an electric powertrain – it should be possible for one to have almost NO issues since EV powertrains can be so simple and the rest of car tech has been developed for so long. Unfortunately, it seems that manufacturers think electric cars should also be laden with the most ephemeral and unproven sorts of technology. But /since the last new car I bought was discontinued in the country due to poor sales/margins, I’m probably not a good barometer for the market.

        I recently jumped back 17 model years to a car without a screen, and my experience of the screen in my 2016-built car wasn’t even notably poor. I just don’t like having a TV on the dashboard when I am trying to focus on figuring out what is happening around me on the road.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    The aluminum struts below the dash, and in fact all of the aluminum trim pieces on the dash, are what sold me on the 2000 Audi TT. The interior of the one I bought was a middle blue, which also made the interior a standout compared to other cars that I considered at the time.
    The Toyota Supra MK IV’s black plastic interior paled in comparison, though I grant you the Supra would have held its value better!

  • avatar
    Best_Ever

    The new Vette interior is certainly ugly, and after having sat in the new Chevy truck I dont hold out much in the way of quality. Same thing was said when I sat in the new Ram. The quality wasnt there, and the electronics reliability is super scary. The whole truck was boring and meh, although the GM was worse. Ford wins hands down. But yeah, all that is totally on topic amiriteguys?

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Pretty low bar if Ford is the best. Ford has had notoriously bad interiors for decades. If it’s not materials it’s design. Sometimes (F150, “new” Explorer) it’s both.

  • avatar
    NG5

    I should submit a second entry for consideration, one I have actually experienced on a test drive anyway: the Fiat 500 Abarth. The strange body color plastic dash, the concentric gauges, and the interior ergonomics of driving, are very weird. I still liked driving the car a lot, but the interior felt more bus-like than car like. The fact that the rear seats were bolted to a flat floor, however, made the prospect of a 2-seater flatbed micro car pretty cool.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed on the 500, at least those of several years back. The concentric gauges made me feel like I was staring into a kaleidoscope. They were very hard to interpret.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Speaking from limited experience, the best interior I’ve experienced was the 2017 300S I had briefly. The infotainment screen, if not the software, was a joy. Good graphics, nice colors and the ambient blue light beam from the ceiling at night. Also, when running the native navigation you can mirror your turn by turn directions in between the speedo and tach.

    A quibble would have been the lumbar support, not sure of that counts here. It was hard to get right and was usually more painful than comfortable.

    The rest have been logically laid out and easy to navigate, with my Mazda being a notch above the other pedestrian vehicles I’ve had.

    The worst seat fabric I’ve had would have to be the 2003 Accord. It felt like it was trying to be suede or something, but mostly just grabbed onto any hair or dust and held on for dear life.

  • avatar
    amca

    I, for one, think the layout of the Corvette interior is cool. They’ve gone further to give the driver a personal space, well separated from the passengers (and crew!). The driver’s gotta feel like he’s piloting a fighter jet, which translates to COOL. Did they go to far? I thought that was the whole point of a Corvette.

    Materials and assembly, that we’ll have to see . . . and make adjustments for the fact that this car is going to be half the price of a comparable Porsche.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    The BMW Z8 deserves a dishonorable mention for being incredibly desirable on paper and then having some art school nitwit’s wet dream of an instrument panel where the instruments aren’t in front of the driver.

  • avatar
    NG5

    For what it’s worth, I sat in a new grey interior Mazda 3 hatch a few weeks ago and I loved the design and materials in there.

  • avatar
    AdamOfAus

    Jaguar s type. 120 000km and falling to bits, materials wearing out. Was a bigger fan of Jag back then, so particularly disappointed by that interior.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Come to think of it, I really like the interior of the car I’m driving now, a 2019 Hyundai Ioniq EV. The seats are comfortable and all the controls fall readily to hand.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Well, Father Pious gives his blessing to that tall console, standing between the seats like a convent wall.

    But my inner ergonomic engineer rankles at that long row of buttons. This seems to adopt the worst part of touchscreens – the necessity to read while driving. Looks like 17 little black buttons, identifiable only by their painted logos. Better to have small groups of buttons, sorted logically and rich with haptic feel.

  • avatar
    ryanwm80

    The 1960 Chryslers with the Astra-dome instrument cluster, E.L. lighting, and transparent acrylic steering wheels.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Best interior gauge and control layout to me is the classic Saab 900. Just perfection. For modern reasonably priced cars, my ’17 GTI is hard to beat too – my only complaint is too many silver accents strewn around. I would prefer good old German matt black.

    As for bad? The Tesla Model 3 is simply in a class by itself, especially for the price.


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