Which New Car Has The Best Looking Instrument Panel Today?

2018 Ford Mustang Instrument Cluster

Say what you will about technology taking the joy out of driving, but there’s one major upside to putting cutting-edge features in a vehicle – we’re getting some pretty cool stuff.

While the majority of drivers are concerned with getting a massive touchscreen somewhere on the center console, enthusiasts are all about those instrument panels.

A good set of gauges can change the entire feel of a vehicle. Clear, easy-to-read gauges can making driving a good car that much better. But on the flip side of that, a poor set of gauges can throw everything off. In recent times, more automakers have moved towards digital instrument clusters and that’s a trend we can get behind.

While complex digital instruments are relatively new, especially when it comes to affordable, mainstream vehicles, a lot of new supercars are sporting them. The new Ford GT is the perfect example, as the supercar’s 10-inch digital instrument display alters the way information is displayed based on what mode the car is in.

When it comes to our favorite setting for the GT, the car’s V-Max mode is the best, as it displays coolant temperature, oil pressure, oil temperature, and turbo boost to the right, while a centrally-placed speedometer readout is the main focal point.

While Ford’s instrument cluster is one of the better one’s we’ve seen on a supercar, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least give credit to McLaren and Ferrari. The new 720S is part Transformer, as it boasts an instrument cluster that actually flips and changes the information that’s displayed depending on what mode the car is in. And, when all you want is the crucial stuff, there’s a Slim Display Mode that only shows you what gear the car’s in, its revs, and its speed.

Ferrari went with something a little less complex with the LaFerrari. Regularly, the digital cluster looks like a normal gauge that prioritizes revs over speed. But when it track mode, it switches screens to something that looks like a hockey puck, providing a clearer image of how many revolutions the engine is making and how fast the car’s going. Sometimes, simple is better.

Those cars, though, are for the one percent. But the technology is trickling down to cheaper options.

Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system takes the idea of a high-end instrument panel to another level – Volkswagen has a similar system, but on its vehicles, it’s called Digital Cockpit. The system isn’t cheap, but it’s definitely worth the extra money. Instead of traditional gauges, the Virtual Cockpit features a 12-inch screen that allows you to prioritize not only the speedo and tach, but also navigation. It can also display playlists, phone calls, and other handy items.

Audi Virtual Cockpit

Lastly, the 2018 Ford Mustang is another car with an insanely cool instrument cluster. I have some experience using this one firsthand and while I didn’t get loads of time using it, I was immediately blown away at just how customizable it was. Just like others on this list, the 12-inch display alters the information that’s shown based on what driving mode the car is in.

But drivers can also choose what gauges they want to be displayed in the specific mode, the background colors, and more. The system’s so customizable, that you can even create your own color if you don’t like the ones that Ford offers. The best thing about the Mustang’s cluster, though, is that if you’re not interested in all of this fancy stuff, you don’t have to use it – which isn’t the case with others on the market. And it’s pretty easy to get a grasp on.

If it were up to me for the best-looking instrument panel, it would have to be for the Mustang’s cluster. It looks fantastic, is customizable, easy to learn, and isn’t a mandatory part of the driving experience. Sure, it can make it more enjoyable, but you’re not going to have frustrating moments like you might with Audi’s or VW’s systems.

What’s your favorite? Is there an instrument cluster I overlooked or would you cast your vote for one of the ones above? Let us know below.

  • TrevP

    I like the Audi display. Looks crystal clear

    • TheHake

      Also, the large map is SUPER useful.

  • Shahul Usman

    call me old fashioned , but I already miss analog guages…fine jewelry.. id take a mix (analog w/small digital display).. vote Pagani Huyara gauges.. they look like they belong in an art museum

    • Bash

      Old fashioned. lol

  • pjl35

    Definitely NOT the new Focus. That set-up with analog gauges and a small screen in the middle was fine on a car debuting in 2013…not for 2019.

    • Alter Ego

      Seriously. I was so disappointed to see a 2019 car with such a low tech gauge cluster

      • pjl35

        SAME! I thought it was a joke when I was flipping through the pics of the interior.

      • LeStori

        Seems to have all you really need to enjoy your driving experience. If the car is so boring to drive that you need lots of dash toys, then maybe you should reconsider the type of car you are purchasing.

        • Oliver Moore

          Mhm.

      • TheHake

        Agreed. Dealbreaker for me.

    • TheHake

      2013?!?!? More like 2003.

      • pjl35

        AMEN

  • ZYGIUS

    2008 Citroen C5 is still the best combination of analog and digital clusters

  • Autoexperte

    Peugeot

  • Nordschleife

    I am going with Audi. I don’t like the font used on Mustang’s

  • lagunas3ca

    Dual high-res 12.3″ displays.

  • Chris

    I would bet analog gauges going to come back in premium and luxury cars as an optional extra. They might even throw a Breitling or TAG Heuer badge on them. These digital gauges has a techy vibe to them, but in 2030 they will be the most boring thing in your car. Anyway self-driving cars will take over no matter what, so it doesn’t even matter… “Thus passes the glory of the world”

    • TheHake

      Probably. But it’s not 2030 yet.

  • Lucas Mattos Azevedo

    The new Peugeot digital displays look amazing!

  • lagunas3ca

    Tesla Model 3.

  • TheBelltower

    We get it… SCREENS! I’d like to see more of a balance between beautiful analog displays and the boring flatness of digital displays. These all are too busy for no reason other than to dazzle. Even though my daily driver has nothing but screens, there’s something nice about the richness and depth of dials and bezels. These are all going to look about as sophisticated as Pac Man in a few years.

  • PK

    Where’s Mercedes Benz?

    • Autoexperte

      and Jaguar, Lexus, BMW, DS, Citroen, Aston Martin, Tesla, Peugeot, Toyota, Volvo, Cadillac, Range Rover, Honda, Mitsubishi (Grand Lancer), Lincoln (Navigator)

      • PK

        uh yeah but idc about those automakers.

        • TheHake

          Racist! 😀

          • PK

            ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  • smartacus

    Mustang gauges work in real life,
    especially in the rain.

    • rodriguez256

      Which gauges don’t work in the rain and why?

      • smartacus

        What do you mean by which gauges don’t work in the rain and why?

  • jaykit

    I’ll take a Porsche 911’s analog speedo & tach over any of these digital gauges any day. The look and font is perfect. I don’t care how good the graphics card is either, I like seeing an actual needle on both.

  • LeStori

    Bling for the Sesame Street generation. 30 second attention span so need lots of “toys”.

  • TheHake

    But no map.

  • jayet123

    Range Rover Velar?

  • Stealth333

    2018 WRX STI has the best looking one since it’s the one I look at everyday ^__^

  • FoxJ30

    Throw me in the camp that appreciates a nice analog electroluminescent gauge. I liked them when I bought my 2007 GTI, I like them today. Today’s LCD screens will look low res in ten years, and may completely fade in 20 years, but a nice analog gauge, like a nice watch, can be appreciated much longer.

  • Tinky-Winky

    The current digital dashboards aren’t that interesting. The ones on some of the 70-80s vehicles look so much cooler.

  • DanSemering

    Audi & Tesla have the best display so far!

  • nellydesign

    The title is incorrect. You are talking about instrument clusters. The “instrument panel” is the entire dashboard including cluster, glove box, air registers, and audio/climate controls.

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