2016 nissan murano interior console cashmere leather ・ Photo by Nissan
Crossovers are popular because they’re able to capture the best features of SUVs, minivans, and wagons all in one vehicle. And in such a competitive field, designers and engineers go above and beyond to create the nicest and most comfortable cabins possible. Here, Autobytel editors have identified some of our favorite crossover cabins, based on comfort, styling, and features. We looked at the whole range of crossovers, from subcompact to Leviathan, from inexpensive to upscale. Driver-oriented interiors are our favorites, of course, but passenger comfort also is a major consideration. Now, Autobytel's 10 best crossover interiors:
Buyers who consider Nissan mainly for budget-based car buying (think Versa and Sentra) might be surprised to see the Murano’s starting $29,740 sticker price—it’s up there for a midsize crossover. However, Nissan positions the Murano as a near-premium model, and the amenities justify the MSRP. In fact, U.S. News & World Report says the 2016 Nissan Murano is the best 2-row SUV for the money. The Murano provides extremely comfortable accommodations for five passengers, thanks in large part to the brand’s NASA-inspired “Zero Gravity” seats. Front and rear occupants get plenty of headroom and legroom, too. A rearview camera and Bluetooth are standard features, further underscoring that this Nissan has one of the best interiors in its class.
Photo by Nissan USA
Toyota’s Highlander is another family-oriented midsize option with near-luxury aspirations and one of the best interiors in the crossover class. The Highlander seats up to eight passengers across three rows, although a pair of comfy captain’s chairs is available to replace the middle bench, which reduces seating to seven. The reason the Highlander’s interior ranks so highly? It’s just easy. Seats are comfortable and spacious all around. Cargo capacity is very good for the class, and the cabin abounds with cubbies and pockets to keep small items out of the way yet close at hand. Toyota also offers a rear-seat entertainment system to keep younger members of the family occupied on long trips.
Photo by Toyota
Of all the midsize crossovers under the General Motors umbrella—there are many—the 2016 Buick Enclave has one of the highest starting prices ($39,065), which might explain why it doesn’t sell in the same numbers as its Chevy and GMC cousins. It’s understandable why large families might not want to splurge on premium details. But when it’s time to trade up, the Enclave should be on the short list of those desiring a quiet, mature crossover. The infotainment system is known to be a bit frustrating, but the Enclave provides lush accommodations and lots of options. For 2016, Buick added a Wi-Fi hotspot to the Enclave’s menu of standard features, making it convenient to stay connected on the go.
Remember a few minutes ago, when we were talking about GM’s extensive stable of midsize suvs? Well, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is an all-new addition to the family (that just so happens to undercut the Buick Enclave by about a hundred bucks). This midsize luxury crossover, a replacement for the discontinued SRX, offers seating for five along with a relatively efficient 310 horsepower. The interior trim has loads of accents such as genuine wood, carbon fiber, and suede, accentuating a clean cockpit design that makes it easy to see and reach everything. Seating is comfortable, although perhaps a little snug for larger occupants. It’s no surprise that Cadillac’s latest model has so quickly earned a spot amongst the elite of crossover interiors.
The compact Audi Q5 is a bit smaller than many of the crossovers we’ve mentioned so far, but it’s certainly not short on content. Despite its relatively tight footprint, the Q5 offers plenty of space for all five passengers. Front seat passengers are accustomed to getting all the perks, which abound in the Q5, but here, the rear seats also slide and recline, so sitting in the back doesn’t have to feel like a punishment. A panoramic sunroof (standard for 2016) lets in plenty of light to make the vehicle seem even airier and comfortable. Other standard features that make this one of the best crossover interiors include Bluetooth wireless integration and tri-zone climate control.
We promised that not all of the 10 best crossover interiors would be found in upscale or luxury models, and the Kia Sportage is proof that nice things are available on a budget. The Sportage is fully redesigned for 2017 and is yet another example of the way the brand’s really stepping up its game. First and foremost, this 5-passenger crossover is quiet and serene, giving it the ambience of a much more premium vehicle. The high-quality materials in the cabin add to the Sportage’s upscale look and feel while also providing excellent sound insulation. The Sportage’s rear seats recline an unexpectedly nice touch for a crossover in this class. We also like the optional panoramic sunroof.
The completely redesigned Lincoln MKX isn’t one of the most powerful or athletic options in its class, but the designers have succeeded in crafting a beautiful interior that deserves a spot on this Autobytel list. The MKX is a luxury midsize offering with seating for five, and it offers plenty of features up front and in back. To get the best amenities, though, you’ll have to pay a little extra—most of the high-end goodies, such as a rear-seat entertainment system, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel, are found on the options menu. No matter which trim level of MKX you get, though, features such as a 10-speaker sound system and dual-zone climate control come standard.
The refreshed-for-2017 Hyundai Santa Fe is another affordable family-oriented crossover with an excellent interior. Although the Santa Fe is billed as a midsize, it’s big. Big enough to accommodate three rows of seating (although, by most accounts, the way-back row is best used for children), and big enough to make the optional 360-degree camera worth every penny. Stain-resistant upholstery will help the Santa Fe feel fresh and new for some time to come, and a well-laid-out cockpit minimizes driver distraction. Android Auto is available in all but the base model, and a software update is expected for Apple CarPlay later this year.
The Ford Flex has been around since 2009, and Ford hasn’t significantly tweaked it since 2013. That makes the Flex one of the oldest crossovers currently on the market, but, that said, its family-friendly amenities still provide a substantial value. The Flex seats up to seven passengers across three rows, although the captain’s chair option reduces seating to six. Since the Flex’s introduction, much has been said of its optional second-row refrigerated console, but it deserves mention again because it remains unique to this boxy Ford. For 2016, Ford updated the Flex’s infotainment system, going from the outdated MyFord Touch to the much friendlier SYNC 3 interface, and added a rearview camera to the standard equipment list.
The BMW X3 is a compact crossover that’s oriented more toward performance than luxury, but its passengers are coddled in style. The inclusion of the X3 on this Autobytel list of best crossover interiors is an easy decision to make, even if it's not at the top of our list. The X3’s cabin offers pretty standard upscale fare. It doesn’t stand out in any way, it’s just a well-rounded package that’s put together better than most. It’s spacious, comfortable, and stylish, as you'd expect of any BMW. And the driver-oriented cockpit is a feather in X3's cap, boasting a well-thought-out layout and plenty of standard and optional features.