Car cabins are our solace, away from the smoke and noise of traffic. When the minutes tick by and the traffic around hasn’t moved an inch, it pays to be in an interior that’s comfortable and feels great to be in. In the popular midsize SUV segment, space, practicality, and a diesel powerplant have all been main selling points. And while crunching numbers and comparing notes is great, sometimes the ownership experience relies heavily on how good it feels to be inside one of these 7-seaters.
In this article, we’ll be talking about the six major players in the segment, comparing their interiors and highlighting some quirks and features that could turn you off or seal the deal. From material choices, button layouts, and infotainment options and functions, let’s see which midsize SUV suits your tastes.
The king of torque stands out with its performance and exterior design, making the Chevrolet Trailblazer a powerful on and off-road midsize SUV choice. On the inside, the Trailblazer has a predominantly black color theme, with silver plastic trim pieces in the door panels. Some say its forgettable, but the dashboard does look clean and simple. The material choice is a mixture of soft touch textured plastics where the hands could land and harder panels where we won't necessarily be coming into contact with. Leather is used in the seats and the steering wheel, but lacks any creative contrast stitching and fancy design elements.
The infotainment screen is a Chevy MyLink unit, and those have always performed well, being early adopters of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto adds bonus points, too. Button layout for climate control and other switches for car functions are logically laid out and simple to use. Things like blind spot indicators, lane keep assist, frontal collision mitigation, cruise control, power adjustable seats, and parking sensors are thrown in for convenience and safety.
Overall, a good approach to simplicity that’s elevated by decent choices of materials.
The Ford Everest has always been regarded as the SUV to get if you like a lot of bells and whistles; and it’s a good thing that the interior impresses just as much. The cabin of the Ford Everest is a good mixture of leather, textured soft touch plastic panels, and nice trim pieces for added visual flair. The dashboard also gets a leather piece running across the top, accented with contrast stitching. There’s a mix of black and gray tones here, so it does try to be a little bit more upmarket. The seats are leather, and the steering wheel gets the leather treatment, too. Even the rear seats gets a good amount of contrast stitching, so the entire cabin feels better put together than most in this segment.
Ford’s SYNC3 system works like a charm, and is one of the best in its class, offering Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus the on screen buttons are huge and the display is crisp. A slight drawback would be the amount of buttons and functions that can be configured as the driver, since the Everest does come brimming with toys. Menus upon menus mean you can adjust your ambient lighting and your driving info displays flanking the instrument cluster. You also get adaptive cruise control, blind spot indicators, lane keep assist, frontal collision warning, power seats, power tailgate, and a myriad of personalization features.
The Everest is a worth every penny when all things are considered, plus you get a handsome interior to match.
Isuzu’s midsize contender adopts new technologies for more power and cleaner emissions, and it also happens to be one of the most attractively priced SUVs out there. The cabin of the mu-X is a mostly plastic affair with the usual black theme with some silver accents. What plastic is there is a combination of soft and hard materials, and the whole design is pretty plain. The leather in the cabin can be found in a small panel on the dash, the seats, and steering wheel, but is a synthetic mixture. Some contrast stitching is there, but most of it can be found in the seats. The buttons are simple and logically arranged, and the round, central climate control scheme is clever. The blue ambient lighting is a cool touch, and definitely adds some class to the otherwise unassuming cabin.
The infotainment is handled by an eight-inch touchscreen that’s Android based, and the second row screen can do video playback for your passengers. It’s more traditional in a sense that it doesn’t support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, but it does have the usual bluetooth and USB playback options. You get reverse parking sensors, cruise control, and a handy power liftgate.
The Isuzu mu-X is a good choice if you’re looking for a good value in the segment, backed by the bulletproof reliability of Isuzu’s diesel engines.
Mitsubishi Montero Sport
The second best-selling midsize SUV in the market, the Montero Sport brings refinement and some fashion forward looks to the category. The inside is plush-looking with soft leather trims on the dashboard, steering wheel, and door panels, plus a good smattering of soft touch plastics. There’s silver and black plastic trims around the cabin, and it makes for a tastefully executed interior with all the swooping lines and angles. The buttons and arrangement of switches is easily within reach, and the number of things to press or fiddle around with is just right.
A 6.75-inch touchscreen takes care of infotainment duties, and the unit itself has a lot of functions that you’d expect, with the omission of any Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. It’s an Android unit, and has a lot of displays to help supplement your driving experience. You get adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, blind spot monitors, forward collision mitigation, and ultrasonic misaccleration mitigation.
A great choice for those looking for an edgy exterior with an equally appealing interior.
The Nissan Terra is one of our favorites in the segment when it comes to overall macho looks, as the grille and lines create an intimidating and chiseled silhouette. The interior, however, is on the plain side, with an emphasis on plastic all over the dashboard, with leather being used solely for the door panels, seats, and armrest. Unfortunately, hard plastics with unassuming texturing are the main material here – which may be a good thing if you plan to deal with a lot of scratches and wear over time. Buttons and switches are nice and ergonomically placed, however, so there’s that.
A 7-inch infotainment screen is easy to use, and the addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is great. The second row screen seems like an afterthought, though, as it merely mirrors what’s on the infotainment screen at the time. The Terra does benefit from having an around view monitor and several camera angles for maximum visibility, and a smart rear view mirror takes care of all of this. In the Terra, you get blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, cruise control, and one touch tumble seats for access to the third row.
One of the best-looking SUVs around, supplemented by a great approach to safety.
The definitive best-seller of Toyota in the midsize SUV segment, the Fortuner is considered by many to be the benchmark choice. The inside of the Fortuner is a mix of plastic, a bit of leather, and a generous amount of plastic wood trimming. The wood trim can either be a good thing or a turn-off – all a matter of personal preference. The mix of lighter and darker leather is an interesting idea, and the plastic that adorns the dashboard is mostly soft touch. Buttons are your standard fare and are arranged for easy operation, and nothing feels out of place.
The 6.5-Inch touchscreen is an AVT unit, and we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs with this interface. It can be tricky to pair your phone and the graphics can leave much to be desired. Bluetooth and USB ports are your best friend as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have yet to make it into the Fortuner. For convenience, you do get power seats, power liftgate, parking sensors, and cruise control.
The Fortuner is a safe choice, and is suited for those looking for a solid all-arounder.