Sunday, 17 October 2010

Top 5 Luxury SUV interiors

I was looking at some luxury SUVs this morning ( I know, not to everyone's liking) and it struck me that for the amount of money being demanded for such hideous lumps of steel, some of the interiors are pretty dismal. Conversely, some of the cheaper SUVs have nicer interiors, and let's face it, you're going to spend more time looking at the interior than the outside. Hopefully. Unless you buy the Cayenne, which is apparently a little unreliable, so you'll get plenty of chance to look at the exterior while you're waiting for the tow truck.

So I've ranked what I consider to be the nicest interiors, and included a few horror shows as well for comparison.

The Good

1. Lexus RX450h

The new Lexus RX is a little bland from the outside and certainly nowhere near as striking as the old model. The interior jumped up substantially in quality though, and now resembles a German car of the 90s, in that everything is neatly hidden and uncluttered. Nice, simple styling that works.

2. VW Touareg

Again, a new model and a nice and elegant interior. Nothing fancy going on here, just plain, straightforward design that's pleasing on the eye while providing all the functionality you need.

3. BMW X5/X6

Considering the dashboard is essentially the same for the two cars, I've lumped the two together. The X5/6 has a clean dash, what you would expect of BMW, but maintains the luxury feel, which is exactly what you want when you start to talk about £50k+ for a car. Nice, simple, uncluttered.

4. Hyundai Santa Fe

Pardon? Did I just say Hyundai in an article about luxury SUVs?

Yes I did.

OK, some of it is a little bit plasticky, but it's definitely not basic. And it's well laid out, without too much clutter around the console. If this had slightly better plastics, and a little bit more leather, it would be further up. Welcome to the 21st century, Hyundai is becoming a luxury car maker.

(Incidentally, if you don't believe me, you should check out the new Sonata that's on sale in America. Or the Genesis sedan. Or the Veracruz or ix55)

5. Infiniti FX

Infiniti so far hasn't established much of a presence in the UK, mainly due to lack of dealers and the financial crisis that started as soon as Infiniti announced their launch in Europe.

But they came in with a bang. Nissan already had a pretty nice interior going on in their Murano, but the Infiniti just adds a little je ne sais quoi to it. Love the little analogue clock. Shame there are so many buttons.

The Bad

1. Mercedes ML/GL

Sometimes less is more, and this is illustrated perfectly in the Mercedes' dash. Far too much wood. Somehow Mercedes' interior designers have managed to make wood panelling look cheap.

And to top it all off, they've done the rest in thewhat looks like the cheapest plastic they could find. The vents don't do much for it either, and they look like stock parts that have been crowbarred into the dash.

2. Range Rover

Unlike most of the journalists whose reviews get published in actual magazines, I don't receive any perks from any of the car companies, so I can be quite honest.

Put it like this, there is a reason you never see bad Range Rover reviews, despite the widely known reliability issues.

But I also know that the people who own Range Rovers love them.

And they've not done a terrible job of the interior. Far from it, it's actually quite nice. It could actually have been number one on the good list, except Land Rover have made two mistakes.

The first is the steering wheel is a little too chunky, and is more reminiscint of those toy dashboards kids used to get than an actual car.

The second is those little knobs on the central column. The six of them, one is actualy a clock. They are a little, um, Tonka Toy, for my liking.

But otherwise, the wood panelling is beautiful. Mercedes designers take note.

The Ugly

1. Porsche Cayenne

All I can say is that if someone is blind enough to choose a car that looks like this on the outside, they'll probably not notice how hideous the interior is. Buttons. Everywhere.

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