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Hyundai, Kia autos land on Ward’s 10 Best Interiors list

The 2011 program includes models from several different categories and a wide range of prices.

By Caitlin AdamsPublished: April 12, 2011 02:08 PM

Irvine-based Kia Motors America and Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America have both earned spots on Ward’s 10 Best Interiors list, which evaluates autos for superior aesthetics, fit-and-finish, ergonomics and other criteria. The 2011 Kia Optima EX and 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited earned high marks based on the cars’ comfort and overall value.

Chris Zarlenga, design manager for the Hyundai America Technical Center, said the Elantra’s interior was designed to “bring new life” to the compact-car section of the market, as well as provide optimal functionality.

"Being named to Ward's 10 Best Interiors, alongside vehicles like the Audi A8 and BMW X3 xDrive35i, shows that compact cars can provide an engaging experience as well," Zarlenga said.

The Elantra drew praise for the design of its interior features, including the “curvaceous sensuality” of the instrument panel. Ward’s AutoWorld Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter said that the auto “delivers enough flair to suggest the South Korean automaker is finding its own unique interior design language."

In addition to the nod from Ward’s, the Kia Optima has been named a Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy, an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, an Editor’s Most Wanted by Edmunds’ InsideLine.com and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s Best New Model, besides earning an overall five-star crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Optima’s place on the new list is a direct reflection of the sedan’s comfort, convenience, overall value and “unbeatable combination of stunning design inside and out,” said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing and communications for Kia Motors America.

"The Optima introduced stunning new design language to the Kia lineup, which will continue to evolve as Kia maintains its focus on world-class styling while also delivering outstanding performance and fuel efficiency in response to consumers' needs and rising fuel prices," he said.

Ward’s editors made the final selections from a pool of 51 vehicles that were either all-new models or featured significant upgrades from previous years. Winter said the publication had never evaluated such a large group of candidates.

“Automakers are so focused on the smallest details that it’s hard to find a bad interior these days," he said. "Still, some are better than others, and we’re recognizing the best of the best.”

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