Let’s take a step back from all of this Red Trim

Buying a car in 2020 is a tale of purchasing something that isn’t something else. People buy most crossover-type vehicles because it’s a truck, but it isn’t. It’s also a car, but it isn’t. Above all; it’s sporty, but of course, it isn’t.

Making a car shaped-like a high-riding jellybean is easy enough, just lift your average hatchback. Making any car “sporty” isn’t much harder either. Just add red.

Stop it. Get some help.

To be clear, this reminiscently soviet distribution of crimson to the masses also affects plenty of actual performance vehicles. In fact, It’s even more strange when little red bits get glued all over any self-respecting sports car. If a car is already quick and exciting, tacking on a bunch of plastic to remind you is pointless. “I’m a sports car! No–don’t bother putting your foot down. Just take a look at all of this red!”

A prime example of this is the just-released Volkswagen Golf GTI:

Have you forgotten you’re in the most well-known hot hatchback of all time? Yes? Look at all of this red! Red seats! Red lights! Red on the steering wheel! Red trim! As if the huge red patches on the seats were not enough, all of the upholstery has red stitching.

Beyond Volkswagen, Subaru must be the single biggest offender in this category. The interiors of the BRZ, WRX STI, and Forester Sport could be parted by Moses and nobody would think anything of it.

Image result for subaru wrx interior

Red = Sports

This doesn’t just happen in cars. In fact, I know it’s a tasteless trend because red is the official trim color of computer accessories designed with GAMING in mind. Automakers must think that, because young people like video games and every gaming accessory is festooned with red, kids must like red. Red is cool, red is hip. If you want to sell a car to a young person? Cover it in red trim inside and out. Oh, but you can’t make the entire interior red, and god forbid you buy a red car. That thing would be a ticket magnet, and horribly garish.

Still don’t believe that it’s a bad trend? If you like this red trim crusade automakers are on, you also have to like the Nissan Juke Nismo. I’ve just decided that’s a rule.

This trend goes beyond just entry-level cars, though. Remember when my fellow Hooniverse writer Kamil Kaluski reviewed the Acura MDX A-Spec? Look at the interior:

The inside of your car is somewhere you spend a lot of time. It’s absolutely not some sticky, dimly-lit ‘gamer den’ where vanquished cans of Mountain Dew reach dizzying heights. You’re not spending fifty dollars on a new mouse, you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars on a car.

Color & Material Designers Do Better

It isn’t even as if this is the best we can do–we do so much better. Look at the interior of the Hyundai Venue Denim:

This car isn’t even expensive, yet you get actual tasteful color & material design. Look at the nice white piping on the seats, and the subtle pattern that was embroidered into them. My goodness. Did they use BLUE? The madmen!

Another great example is the new Genesis GV80:

Oh no! My virgin eyes! They’re using green–and brown! I know what you’re going to say; they’re using red. I know they’re using red–its a subtle accent of red light. It isn’t great long strips of red plastic stretched around the interior to remind you what an active and dynamic lifestyle you live.

Even Lincoln has gotten their act together. The interior trim options on the new Continental and Corsair are tasteful and unique.

I’m not asking for much.

I don’t even care if you make your sporty plastic trim green, blue, or yellow. Just enough with the red. Porsche uses lime green in the 918 Weissach. Great. BMW likes to put that weird blue on everything these days. That’s fine.

There are quite literally infinite different finishes to use on your trim, and there are scores of color & material designers working for every automaker. I’m certain RED isn’t the only thing they can come up with.

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21 responses to “Let’s take a step back from all of this Red Trim”

  1. Zentropy Avatar

    It makes sense that the interiors of mainstream cars are relatively neutral. Go wild with the colors, textures, or patterns, and you might alienate some of your potential buyers. Offering unusual interiors as an option is cumbersome to mass-produce, at least at reasonable cost.

    While I have owned cars with both red and blue interiors, I don’t really want that to be a returning trend.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      But should an automaker offer something like this from the factory, I’d be all over it:


  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    Nope, gotta disagree on this one. Thank you automakers for finally putting a little color back into interiors – yes, even red. (full disclosure, I love red and my last 5 pickups have all been red). To me, there is nothing worse than a boring 50 shades of gray interior, so a splash or 4 of red..bring it. That GTI looks really good, especially with the plaid seats, and I’d much prefer sitting in that Subie over that boooooring Hyundai.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      The plaid seats are what really caught my eye. I love it, but is it intended to balance the racy red back into an equilibrium of teutonic seriousness?

      I remember at school, 20 years ago, I had a presentation about car interiors in art class. Among other things, I showed the optional brown interior in the then-new Volvo C70. It was outrageously different. My art teacher was baffled that cars could be that interesting as industrial art…didn’t make a sale though, ha!

  3. Maymar Avatar


    I’d either advocate for tastefulness, or go full absurd and TURBO GRAFFIX on everything since just about everything is turbo’d anyhow.

  4. Ross Ballot Avatar
    Ross Ballot

    “Hi, I’m Peter and I hate fun.”

    1. Peter H Avatar
      Peter H

      big facts

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Gawd dammit, Dick, you chose the wrong shoes again.

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      Gawd dammit, Dick, you chose the wrong shoes again.

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        Actually, “Dick” is Bill Mitchell, who was GM’s head of design for decades, and the hand behind the pen on some of history’s most iconic cars.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          I was тнчз close. Amazing to see such a person display style and swag like that. Today, it’s all black.

          1. Zentropy Avatar

            That’s too awful for words. “Style and swag” are hardly what comes to my mind, though. Not a fan of “look-at-me” designs, be it displayed on cars or people.

  5. William Byrd Avatar

    Generally, I like it. But I drive a lot of press loaners that come with a variety of interior palettes. I find the red a bit more exciting and interesting. BUT, I’m not sure how well it would wear long term if I actually owned it!

  6. outback_ute Avatar

    Peugeot 205 GTi says “lazy young whippersnappers”

    It’s really not much more than a back-to-the-80s thing, just add some red stripes sports version https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a661a0672df98d2b7ae127a35103c69f7116a41b5b984c5e6e280a27ac5c47dd.jpg

    1. salguod Avatar

      I love this, but kinda wish the seats were mirror images with each having the light gray on the outside and the charcoal on the inside.

  7. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    You can use orange, best with British Racing Green like the Rover BRM 200.(In a nod to the colours of the original BRM race cars)


    though it was red leather everywhere inside, and some of the switchgear was turned aluminium, not silver plastic.


    But then they decided to reinvent the MG marque, which is just as well as it’s all that’s left, along with JLR of the whole British Leyland mess


  8. salguod Avatar

    Red trim on a GTI is the way God intended it to be.

    I actually like the red trim on the Nissan Nismo packages, yes even (especially!) the Juke.

    Red on that Outback? Nope.

    That Genesis has “great long strips of red plastic stretched around the interior” and it really looks out of place in a luxury sedan.

    I’m absolutely with you on better interior colors. Check out some of the colors available on the inside of the new Corvette. Also the Lava carpet on the new Volvo XC40.

    We part ways on red seats though. Red seats are always good.

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