From an array of blazing colors and digital dials that perform multiple functions to an in-floor storage bin that can be used to both measure and preserve caught fish, this year's Wards 10 Best Interiors winners make it clear automakers are treating passenger compartments more like dazzling concepts than mainstream production cars and trucks.

This year's competition saw 40 nominated interiors that were all-new or significantly improved from the prior year, and even some of the vehicles that didn’t make the list pushed boundaries with regard to style, materials and colors.

Red was extremely popular this year, not only as an accent color but covering complete seats and wide swaths of door panels on five vehicles in the competition – six if the burgundy-red Lincoln Navigator is included.

“Thank you to all the interior designers who have been urging their bosses to take chances and try colors that are less predictable,” WardsAuto Senior Content Director Drew Winter says.

“We know a lot of consumers end up buying black, gray or beige interiors, but there are also a lot of shoppers who want more excitement. This year’s class of winners will make those folks happy.”

The 2018 winners in alphabetical order (with price as tested):

  • Chevrolet Equinox ($36,375)
  • Hyundai Kona ($29,775)
  • Infiniti QX50 ($58,195)
  • Kia Stinger ($48,350)
  • Lexus LS 500 ($89,780)
  • Lincoln Navigator ($96,570)
  • Porsche Panamera ($201,540)
  • Ram 1500 ($65,945)
  • Range Rover Velar ($91,830)
  • Toyota Camry ($39,253)

Chevrolet wins its sixth Wards 10 Best Interiors trophy for the all-new Equinox, which demonstrates with its stylish, well-built interior why it remains one of America’s most popular midsize CUVs.

In a utilitarian segment often leaning toward the conventional, the Equinox interior revels in its abundant curves, tilted oblong air vents and angular door trim. Just about the only straight horizontal lines in the cabin can be found in the seat stitching.

WardsAuto editors praise the Equinox for its soft, premium materials, massive center console, outstanding infotainment system, excellent value and contrasting black and butterscotch color scheme. We scoured the Equinox for fit-and-finish problems and could barely find a seam out of place.

And then there’s the little touches that surprise and delight – such as the heated and cooled second-row seats, heated steering wheel, 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, wireless phone charging and, at engine shutoff, a reminder not to leave children or cargo unattended in the back seat.

Moving to the booming compact CUV segment, which faces even tougher cost constraints, Hyundai uses brilliant splashes of color to make the interior of the all-new Kona a hipster’s playground and one that looks and feels anything but cheap.

Black interiors are the norm in this segment, but Hyundai’s designers judiciously use neon lime trim to frame the air vents, ignition start button and transmission shifter bezel to catch the eye of shoppers looking for something out of the ordinary. The neon lime treatment carries over to the piping, stitching and head restraints for seats in both rows.

Beyond the color scheme, WardsAuto editors praise Hyundai for the high-definition head-up display and for simplifying the design of the center stack, framing the 8-in. (20-cm) color touchscreen with category buttons that take the driver into the proper sub-menu. The few buttons and knobs that remain are hefty and easy to use. This is the fifth Wards 10 Best Interiors honor for the Hyundai brand.

The all-new Infiniti QX50 is one of those interiors that has us seeing a lot of conceptual edginess appearing in production vehicles.

From the brown Ultrasuede headliner and navy blue Ultrasuede accents on the center armrest, instrument panel and doors to the creamy white semi-aniline leather trimmed in mocha stripes and stitching, the QX50 interior is one that is simultaneously effervescent, calming and inspiring.

WardsAuto editors heap praise on this luxury CUV for its gorgeous textures, “stunning array of high-quality materials” and open-pore maple wood trim that is so subtle it actually looks metallic. Who knew blue, brown, cream and metallic trim could live together in such beautiful harmony? A massive panoramic roof bathes all the interior finery in natural light.

Beyond the cosmetics, the QX50 gets high marks for a generously proportioned center console, spacious second row and overall excellent value, as well as three brightly colored display screens (two in the center stack and one in the gauge cluster).