Reader Question: Quiet Ride Recommendations?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

John asks: Please suggest a car with a quiet ride, in the $35k range. Several times monthly my wife and I drive up the New Jersey Turnpike to NYC in our Honda CRV. At highway speed, (75) the road noise interferes with conversation and music. At our stage of life neither 4WD nor cargo space is necessary.

Thanks, Eric. I appreciate your knowledge and your worldview.

My reply: Your CRV, like most crossovers, rides higher off the ground than a standard passenger car and this (along with the kinds of tires that are frequently fitted to crossovers and SUVs) often results in higher passenger compartment noise, especially at highway speeds. The problem is magnified if – as is the case with your CRV – the drivetrain is also noisier than usual. A fairly heavy, not very aerodynamic vehicle with a smallish four cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable (CVT) transmission will  often be operating at fairly high RPM at 75 MPH – and that increases engine as well as exhaust noise. Compounding this, CVT transmissions are often more noisy than conventional automatics; some produce a turbine-like low whine.

So, my first general recommendation would be to shop for a passenger car (sedan or hatchback) rather than a crossover or SUV. I’d specifically recommend a mid-sized or even full-size sedan oriented toward luxury and comfort and when I enter those two criteria into my head, two cars immediately stand out:

The Toyota Avalon, which is a slightly larger version of the Toyota Camry (and basically the same car as the thoroughly pleasant Lexus ES350) and the Chrysler 300. Both come with strong V6s standard (a V8 is available in the 300, but by no means a necessary upgrade) have exceptionally comfortable and quiet cabins. The Hyundai Sonata is also very nice and worth a look.

I would steer clear of any car that touts “sportiness” as that usually means noisier – and even with cars like the Avalon and 300, be sure to test drive a version with the standard wheel/tire package and not the optional wheel/tire package, which usually means a shorter sidewall tire and that almost always means a harsher ride and more road noise making its way into the cabin.

The VW Passat and even the Jetta are worth a test drive as well.

Hope this is helpful – and keep us posted!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Avalons are nice, my kind of car. Early 2000’s Buicks are really quiet and are very dependable. I’d go for the Buick just because they are cheap(if you can find one in good shape). People tend to drive the wheels off these cars….and I would too. Probably the Avalon is somewhat more reliable although Buick’s 15 years ago were some of the most reliable on the market.

    One of the things I loved about my 93 Chevy Turbo Diesel pickup was the extreme amount of soundproofing and it’s quietness. I did a muffle delete. Not an iota of performance or mileage difference nor any sound in the cab. I rolled down the passenger window(electric, wouldn’t have manual in farm country) and heard it howling. Oh well, I couldn’t hear it with the window up. I’ll leave this to the Dodge Cummins crowd who like to make you turn away and plug your ears when they drive by on a street in a city. Go ahead, give it hell, no cops ever look twice…and they’re just as abusive as the Harley straight pipes. I can’t make that sort of noise with my gasoline car without getting pulled over. There’s a disconnect here. I can’t explain it.

    • 8S,

      Speaking of early-mid 00s Buicks, one I especially liked was the Lucerne. It was a decent sized car with understated elegance. I don’t know about the ride or quiet, because I never rode in one. That said, if it’s like other Buicks of the period, I would expect it to have a very smooth, quiet ride. Plus, it has the V-6… 🙂

      • MM, I don’t recall the exact model although it was “full-size” but it came with a sportier type suspension. I can tell you from modifying many cars that “sporty” doesn’t mean an increase in noise. Wish I had the funds to rebuild the 77 El Camino that’s pretty rare since it’s an SS and has a trailer tow package. None of the running gear including wheels, brakes, sway bar, driveshaft, transmission, springs and helper shocks nor radiator interchanges with any other model. The interior is straight out of the racer boy Monte Carlo. I loved that ride before the old lady neglected it to death. It only had a 400hp 358 in it and a built TH 375

        In fact I have all new suspension, new grill, chrome, lights and some other things. The grill was found in Canada, the last to be had with even the new SS emblem. Then the drought hit, we lost our ass in the cattle bidness and the rest is history I don’t want to repeat…..but things got worse.


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