Portland Auto Show interior impressions

Here they are, in an unordered list format, because I’m lazy. Please read them, and get me those sweet, sweet views.

1. The HVAC controls on the new Honda Accord feel really great. Extremely solid, clicky, and the rings of light around each dial that turn red when you heat it and blue when you cool it are a wonderful touch. Super simple, and the general tactility can rival BMW and Audi.


2. BMW’s 360-degree camera is fucking incredible. The thing uses the cameras to build a 3D model of the parking space, or in this case, the show floor, and lets you literally zoom around the car and see what’s outside at every angle. It’s hard to explain, but absolutely dazzling to use. (Side note: the 6-Series GT is hideous on the outside, but that ridiculous roofline makes for a stupidly spacious interior. I actually preferred the inside to the regular 5-Series or 6-Series GC, but driving one around, I wouldn’t be able to stomach the shame).

3. General Motors makes the best-feeling paddle shifters out of any I tried. Audi, Mercedes and Jaguar all felt rubbery and blah in comparison to the exceptional crispness of those in the Corvette and Camaro, although I didn’t get to try Alfa’s but they probably wouldn’t have been as good anyway.

4. The new Nissan Maxima has amazing seats. Every other part of the interior is undoubtedly inferior to the aforementioned Accord, and the outside doesn’t look as nice to boot, but the Maxima’s seats are outstandingly comfortable even without any adjustment. Most of the seats I tried were much too firm and had way too much lumbar support, but the Nissan’s rivaled Volvo in terms of softness and shapeliness. I think most of it comes down to how the lumbar section of the seat isn’t rock-hard like in most others (looking at you, AMG), instead having a noticeable but beautifully judged amount of collapse.


5. The inside of the LC500 is as good as everyone says it is. Getting in is a bit of a trial (those door handles are awesome, but it’s extremely low), but the entire car seems to wrap around you like none of the others I tried. All the controls feel stupendously high-quality, and that high dashboard and low cowl make the driving position just feel special. Also, the seats grip you more tightly than any of the others I sat in, enough to really surprise me, but somehow they don’t poke you and prod you in the wrong places like a couple AMGs did. They wrap around you beautifully, and I could easily have sat in them for hours. I also thought it had the best MMI I used, and the touchpad works much better than I expected (although I would have tuned it to a lower pressure sensitivity for clicks if I had been in charge). The volume knob and adjacent switches don’t really feel as high-quality as they look, and they aren’t as crisp as Audi’s.

6. The Range Rover Velar looks amazing outside, and just feels solid inside. That was my dominant impression of the interior. Since most of the controls are touch-operated and are therefore just sheets of black glass when the car is off, I didn’t get to try them out, but everything inside that you touch feels like it could withstand being hit with a small hammer before it would break.


7. The overall top honor for interior quality has to go to Audi. It very nearly went to BMW, but all in all Audi’s MMI and controls just feel that little bit crisper and better screwed-together. I was slightly underwhelmed by the Volvo S90 and XC90 in these respects, and while they beat Audi in terms of design and functionality for the most part, pure excellence of feel goes to the Germans.

8. The inside of the new Continental is nice, but I didn’t find the seats to be any more comfortable than a comparable Audi or BMW. This might be because the car was off, and I didn’t have enough time to make the best of all 30 adjustments, but before fiddling with anything, I found those Maxima seats to be generally more pleasant. I do think the Conti looks better than any BMW sedan.


9. The new Phantom looks incredible in the flesh. They wouldn’t let anyone inside, but just standing in front of it really does make you feel like a lesser human being.

10. The gun/weed/license compartment behind the screen in the C7 Corvette is awesome. Both my friends got a kick out of it as neither of them were aware of it so I got to blow their minds. More cars should have one of these.


11. I couldn’t get in the new NSX, but from the outside, it looks tiny.

R-Class to top it off.

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