Dearborn, Mich. - Two redesigned Ford vehicles – the 2008 Ford Focus and the 2008 Ford Escape – have been nominated by the editors of WARD’s AutoWorld magazine for WARD’S Interior of the Year awards for their styling, safety, comfort and refinement.
The Ford Focus is nominated in the category “Economy Priced Cars under $16,999.” The 35 mpg Focus, which was launched last fall, is one of the hottest-selling small cars, with retail sales in April up 88 percent. That was the best April sales for Focus since 2000.
The car’s new interior is significantly quieter than the previous model and it offers several signature Ford features and options, including programmable LED ambient lighting, Ice Blue instrument lighting, Ford’s exclusive SYNC technology for hands-free operation of MP3 players and BlueTooth-enabled cell phones, leather seating surfaces with contrast stitching and more.
The Escape is doing battle in the “Popular Sized Trucks under $34,999” segment. Like the Focus, the Escape interior is significantly quieter and also offers signature features like Ice Blue Lighting, ambient lighting and a driver-friendly top of dash information display.
It is also a showcase for Ford’s use of renewable materials, including seat cloth made from 100 percent recycled materials, and for 2009 seat cushions made with soy-based foam instead of petroleum-based foam. Retail sales for the Escape were up 13 percent in April.
This year’s winners will be selected at a special awards ceremony June 4 during the WARD’S Auto Interior Show held at Cobo Hall in Detroit. Peter Horbury, Ford executive director, Design, The Americas, will open the conference that morning with an address dedicated to the evolution of interior design.
“Vehicle design has evolved as a discipline and an art form,” says Horbury. “While much attention has been paid throughout the years to external shapes and surfaces, vehicle interiors are now a major product differentiator. The use of new colors and materials, along with a heightened attention to detail, has created a renewed interest in interiors.”
Horbury, known best for his work with Volvo, Lincoln and the new 2009 Ford Flex, says that interior design has historically reflected the signs of the times: a fireplace hearth, space travel, and even the love affair with modern furniture. Horbury says that today’s automakers are offering the best interiors ever.
“The quality you see on today’s vehicles is spectacular,” he says. “That includes fine leathers and woods, thoughtful amenities, intuitive design and sustainable materials. It is a great time to be an interior designer.”
Last year, Lincoln came home with trophies for Navigator and MKZ. Navigator was top pick in the “Premium-Priced Truck” category, and MKZ won in the “Industry-at-Large” category.
WARD’S editors evaluate vehicle interiors on eight specific categories including materials, ergonomics, comfort and design harmony. To be eligible for the competition, the vehicle or its interior must be new in 2008.
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