Styling, color and gadgetry take center-stage in these impressive interiors
Watch Project Runway long enough, and you’ll pontificate about construction, textures and contemporary style. I can almost hear Zac Posen sniping about a sloppy bias cut in my head.
But from couture to Target, much of what you learn on runways translates to highways, where vivid colors, slick touchscreens and refined stitching reign. The gay driver has no problem getting touchy-feely with his car’s inner self — and may even find it makes him take more care of his ride.
Vibrant colors. My ’89 Corvette has flaming red leather seats back when green, blue, brown or muted red upholstery was common. More recently, beige, gray and black were all the rage — that’s it. But newer cars are more vibrant.
Red is now the new black. Cadillac, Mercedes and BMW use it ubiquitously to denote sportiness. The new Corvette Stingray has a red-themed interior that’s best viewed with sunglasses, but the most mesmerizing inflammation comes with Lincoln Black Label editions, where pillars, headliner, ambient lighting and lower console trim are all bright scarlet.
I recently drove a Hyundai Veloster Turbo with light blue trim on the seats. Cadillac went with purple stitching for the XTS interior; Buick chose turquoise. Mercedes’ new CLA is offered with yellow stripes and stitching. These details show how much designers care.
When stylists aren’t satisfied with fabrics, they draw ambient lighting from every crevice. Buick employs chrome accents that turn ice blue at night. Mini Countryman owners can select a rainbow of lighting colors, or let the system rotate randomly through all of them. Ford Mustang drivers change the color of instrument lighting. The 2014 Mercedes S-Class is a tomb of illuminated ecstasy, replete with the finest timber and hides.
Threads count. We’re not just talking about seats — and not just about luxury cars. Martha Stewart may gush over thread count in her bed linens, but auto designers also care about textures and materials. Cadillac lavished stitched dash coverings, suede door-panels and real wood on the all-new CTS sedan and ELR electric car. Upscale trucks like the Ford King Ranch, Chevy Silverado High Country and Toyota Tundra 1794 come with saddle-leather seats that whiff of divine bovine.
Crossing the chasm between clothes and cars, designer John Varvatos chose pewter metallic leather and charcoal hydrographic wood for his signature-edition Chrysler 300. You can also appreciate the cool dash texture and body color trim inside a Chevy Spark. The new Toyota Corolla’s interior looks like it came from a small Lexus. No matter the window sticker, carefully-crafted interiors are essential. Black is so passé — unless it has a slick piano finish.
Silky screens. Whether you realize it or not, not all touchscreens are created equal. Good ones are as intuitive as an iPad while not-so-smooth ones remind you of a Commodore 64. My favorites are from Chrysler products, while the worst may be in the Subaru Forester, and the notoriously-deaf SYNC with MyFord/MyLincoln Touch system is somewhere between. You can swipe the screen of a Chevy Impala like an iPad. As automakers improve infotainment systems, using them should be silky smooth.
Designers have learned that finessing colors and textures give owners enhanced delight. A confusing touchscreen can ruin the driving experience the same as smart use of suede enhances it. Catfights will be fought over interiors.
Let the sniping begin, Zac.
Last weekend, the Progressive International Motorcycle Show returned for its annual expo at the Dallas Convention Center, and hog-lovers and motorcyclists of all kinds got to check out the latest rides from Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and more.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 15, 2013.