Vehicle interior design is a blend of art and science, and fortunately for new-car buyers, beauty and function can coexist and appear across a wide spectrum of vehicles. In fact, oftentimes designers and engineers turn the limitations of price into gardens of creativity. To highlight the best interiors among the most affordable new vehicles this year, Autotrader, a Cox Automotive company, has named the Best Car Interiors Under $50,000 for 2023.
“Thankfully, inexpensive new cars can still be attractive and functional,” said Brian Moody, executive editor of Autotrader. “Automotive interiors have come quite a long way in the last several years. With every new model year that comes along, we see more and more premium materials and top-notch tech featured in everyday cars appearing in the middle and lower third of the price scale. New-car buyers do not need to sacrifice interior comfort or function just because they are on a budget.”
All vehicles on the list are 2023 models and feature base prices under $50,000; however, buyers can option-up several of the models to drive their prices well above the list’s $50,000 limit. All of the 2023 Best Interiors Under $50,000 vehicles – even in lower-trim levels – are still beautiful, comfortable and feature-laden. Below, in alphabetical order by brand, are Autotrader’s 2023 choices for 10 Cars Priced Under $50,000 with the Best Interiors:
Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon
Twin midsize trucks, the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, are all-new for 2023. Both have embraced the driver-centric, highly functional dashboard this time, throwing symmetry aside for a big, useful interface. As befits a truck, there's lots of practical storage in the cabin and beefy controls for working hands.
Ford Super Duty
The Ford Super Duty pickup truck has a wide array of configurations, and every Super Duty has a comfortable, roomy cabin with an elegant, functional design. Tick all the boxes, and you'll be surrounded by an interior with luxury and features you'd expect in a high-end SUV. Even at the base level, this work truck just plain works.
Using the same bones as the soon-to-arrive Alfa Romeo Tonale (a Stellantis Group stablemate), the new Hornet captures the muscle car's transcendent spirit in a compact SUV package. Packed with sporty features, like standard paddle shifters, push-button start, sport seats and more, the Hornet's interior has a bold flair to match its exterior's macho pose.
Honda probably didn't have to update the CR-V, as it has been one of the top-selling SUVs in the U.S. for over a decade. But the 2023 Honda CR-V continues the compact SUV's march toward elegance with its new, more spacious interior design. After experimenting with control layout in the last generation, the CR-V returns to big rotary dials for climate control, an actual knob for audio volume, and a crisp, horizontally arrayed dash that makes the SUV feel as wide as the outdoors.
Hyundai Ioniq 6
The new, all-electric Ioniq 6 midsize sedan has been collecting awards this season, and we're happy to add our tip of the hat. With an airy cabin and a clean, minimalist interior, the details stand out. The landscape displays, one for the instrument panel and one for infotainment, share a single bezel and give the driver a futuristic view of the road ahead. A flat-bottomed steering wheel hints at a memorable driving experience, and a girder-like center console imparts strength and stability. Adjustable ambient lighting brings the party.
Available as a hybrid (HEV), a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), or a pure electric (BEV), the Niro overachieves in many ways. With its stylish and two-toned interior, it has excellent cargo space for a compact SUV and great features for an inexpensive vehicle. Heated and ventilated front seats are standard, for example, as is a power tailgate. The Niro's comfort and solid build quality are beyond its affordable price, no matter which powertrain you choose.
The midsize luxury SUV that started the segment, the Lexus RX debuts a new version designed to jolt the competition. The RX exterior has sharpened up, leaving room for the interior to make a similarly crisp and elegant statement. A giant central screen running the latest iteration of Lexus' Enform dominates the dash, but the RX smartly retains simple rotary knobs for vital functions. Gone are the fidgety touchpads in the center console. The whole interior is subdued, calm, and, well, Lexus-like.
A brand-new BEV by Nissan is big news, especially since the venerable Leaf isn't going away. The 2023 Ariya absorbs learnings from Nissan's BEV experience and pumps up the volume on exterior design, performance and interior design. While the Leaf could sometimes feel very entry-level, the Ariya’s interior is more Maxima than Versa, maybe even verging on Infiniti levels of design and finish. Minimalistic and modern, the Ariya has no incidental strokes; everything feels intentional and just right.
The Prius is the undisputed king of hybrids, the first successful electrified car on U.S. roadways. Toyota isn't wasting its legacy with timid design. The 2023 version stuns with the most striking exterior in its history, along with a crisp, modern interior featuring thoughtful details and elegant finishes. Prius hasn't lost its efficiency or interior utility, either, capable of swallowing cargo like an SUV and passengers like a midsize car.
The XC40 underwent its first significant makeover since launching as a 2017 model. Volvo's rebirth under Chinese company Geely's ownership has been remarkable, with a dual-pronged focus on electrification and design. While the XC40's exterior is a smaller echo of the midsize XC60 and large XC90 SUVs, its interior is a haven for Scandinavian design. Filled with sustainable fabrics and vegan leather alternatives, the XC40's interior feels rich and clean, with a genuinely spa-like atmosphere.
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