The drive for lower weight instrument panels (IP) can be addressed with different design approaches. The first and more traditional approach is to substitute existing substrate materials with materials having a higher stiffness-to-density ratio. The second approach looks at the sub-system level where weight reduction is achieved through part integration. To exemplify this type of designs, examples of innovative knee bolster solutions are shown. The third and most radical approach is weight reduction at the system level. Alternatives to instrument panels that use traditional cross car beam structures will be presented. With these alternatives, hybrid and structural instrument panels can be developed in which weight reduction is achieved by part integration and by allowing plastic materials to fulfill a more significant structural role than in traditional IPs.The present paper reviews the traditional, hybrid and structural IP design architectures explaining the role components play and defining their contribution to static, dynamic and crash performance . Each IP architecture can be designed and engineered to meet corporate and legislation requirements using different levels of integration, functionality consolidation and assembly simplification. These architectures can be easily tailored to different passenger vehicles, vans and light trucks.Performance and functionality requirements are linked to basic material characteristics that guide material selection for achieving design targets. The result of a material selection process guided by a system approach is likely to differ from the traditional approach to material selection. In the latter, materials are selected for each component in the IP system considering each sub-system rather independently. In the former, system performance guide material selection to achieve a balanced system response, and therefore, the potential for weight reduction is much higher.