Finalists are Named in First Annual Car & Truck Interior of the Year Awards

28 March 2000

Finalists are Named in First Annual Car & Truck Interior of the Year Awards

    ATLANTA, March 27 Automobile and light truck interior
design is finally being recognized for its important contribution to industry
sales.  Automotive & Transportation Interiors Magazine has announced the six
finalists for this year's awards.  The three finalists in the passenger car
category are the Audi TT Coupe, Ford Focus and Toyota Echo.  In the light
truck category, the finalists are the BMW X5, Dodge Dakota Quad-Cab Pickup and
Mazda MPV.
    The winning car and truck interior of the year will be named at the
magazine's annual awards banquet, scheduled for May 16, 2000, at The Athenium
Suite Hotel in Detroit.  The banquet will be held in conjunction with the 2000
Automotive & Transportation Interiors Expo that runs from May 16-18 at
Detroit's Cobo Center.
    According to Richard Lebovitz, the magazine's co-publisher/editor, "The
awards have been established to focus attention and recognize the increasing
importance of vehicle interior design to automotive product branding and the
customer's purchasing decision.  Both production passenger cars and light
trucks, including imports, introduced in North America for the 2000 model year
were considered for the awards."
    Using the criteria of interior appearance, functionality and innovation,
49 new vehicles were screened before finalists were selection, reported
Lebovitz.
    Appearance factors used in judging included interior styling, color and
materials, and fit-and-finish.  Functionality factors included comfort,
convenience and safety features.  Innovation criteria included "surprise and
delight" features as well as the "better mousetrap" features -- notable
improvements over previous vehicles.
    "The 'wow!' factor also figured into the magazine staff's thinking," said
Lebovitz.  "Each finalist offered something fresh and original."

    Car and Truck Interior of the Year Finalists
    Love it or hate it, the Audi TT Coupe represents a stunning exercise in
design.  The interior of this Teutonic spaceship offers a cocoon of leather
and brushed aluminum, and, although the rear seats are barely suitable for a
family of Pekinese, the car offers ample headroom for six-footers.

    The Ford Focus represents a daring design departure from its spiritual
predecessor, the venerable Escort.  The interior, with its pleasing angles and
quality materials, raises the bar in compact car ergonomics and aesthetics.

    The Toyota Echo subcompact combines cute styling touches, such as a
center-mounted instrument cluster, with functional details, like storage bins
carved out of every possible nook and cranny.  Despite the vehicle's
Lilliputian dimensions, the high roof and light colors make the interior feel
cavernous.

    The BMW X5, the automaker's first entry in the SUV category, offers a
cabin that is precisely what one would expect in a BMW: luxurious,
ergonomically correct and impeccably well screwed together.  Convenience
touches and occupant safety considerations abound in a sea of leather that's
as pleasing to the nose as it is to the eyes.

    The Dodge Dakota Quad-Cab pickup impresses with its comfortable
functionality.  The four full-size doors allow easy ingress and egress, while
the back seat provides adequate legroom and a seatback that is not bolt
upright.

    The Mazda MPV minivan borrows many strengths from its competitors but
improves on them as well.  Amenities such as a tumble-under third row seat and
power windows in the sliding side doors combine with an attractively-styled
dash to make an appealing package.

    For more information on the Car and Truck Interior of the Year Awards
banquet, contact Aimee Doyne, meeting manager at 800-241-9034, 770-569-1540,
or adoyne@bci-atl.com.

    For more information on the 2000 Automotive & Transportation Interiors
Expo contact Gary DeHart, publisher, at 800-241-9034, 770-569-1540, Ext. 221
or e-mail, gdehart@autointerior.com.



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