A stylish exterior may help attract new car buyers, but a comfortable, functional interior seals the deal. Proof that the all-new Mazda MPV minivan boasts one of the best interiors in the business was provided by the editors of Auto Interiors magazine, who honored the MPV for “Truck Interior of the Year” yesterday. The presentation was made during the Automotive & Transportation Interiors Expo at Cobo Center in Detroit. Gordon Dickie, vice president of Research and Development for Mazda North American Operations, accepted the award on behalf of Mazda.

In naming the MPV as the top truck interior, the editors of Auto Interiors praised its amenities and versatility, noting, “The MPV earned top honors because it boasts a set of amenities that makes spending hours on the road sound like fun. The MPV’s layout can morph to suit almost any need.” In winning, the MPV edged out the BMW X5 and Dodge Dakota Quad Cab.

Out of an initial field of 49 vehicles, the editors pared the selections down to three trucks and three cars as finalists. From this group of six, they then selected the winners of the inaugural “Truck Interior of the Year” and the “Car Interior of the Year” (Audi TT Coupe).

All entries were judged on interior appearance, functionality, innovation and overall impression. Appearance was defined as interior styling, color and materials, and fit-and-finish. Functionality encompassed comfort, convenience and safety features. Innovation included surprise-and-delight features and “better mousetraps” — notable improvements over previous vehicles.

The 2000 Mazda MPV features a flexible, innovative interior designed using Mazda’s award-winning OptiSpace design philosophy. It features roll-down windows in both sliding side doors, Side-by-Slide(TM) second-row seats and the Tumble-Under(TM) third-row seat. And while it wasn’t part of the judging for this award, the MPV also offers an optional Rear Seat Entertainment System (RSES), which features an aircraft-quality 6.4-inch LCD screen that folds down from the roof, a four-head videocassette player beneath the third-row seat and plug-and-play interface ports for connecting a portable DVD player or game system.

In addition to this award, the MPV was named a Consumers Digest “Best Buy” for 2000. The Mazda MPV is a winner in the showroom as well as in the automotive media. Through April, Mazda MPV sales are up an incredible 481 percent compared to last year.

Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, and customer parts and service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has over 750 dealerships nationwide.