When it comes to cars, noise can be really good — think of the roar of a strong V8 — or really terrible. A whining belt or a clunk from the engine are a good indication that the car you’re driving may need a checkup. Used cars often come with their own idiosyncrasies (that’s part of what makes them charming, right?), but noise doesn’t have to be one of them. Advances in auto technology mean that cars today are quieter than ever. When you’re buying used and hoping for a quiet ride it’s important to know what to look for.
So, what makes one car quieter than another? Many things. For one, tires can have a huge affect on how much road noise a car gives off. The design of the car’s body is also becoming a more important aspect of how loud a vehicle is. Car manufacturers use sound-deadening materials to keep engine noise out of a car’s cabin and more manufacturers are using thicker glass to reduce wind noise and better mountings to prevent rattling.
All of that said, there is a wide variance in how much noise you can expect to hear while driving your car. Before you start shopping, take time to learn about the quietest cars available in a variety of price points. Below are a few of our favorite vehicles that balance quiet, comfort, and price.
The Hyundai Elantra is a popular car because it offers a ton of style at a relatively low price point. This make and model is also much quieter than other sedans because it has more sound-deadening material that keeps road and engine noise from being an annoyance in the cabin. The suspension of the Elantra has been heralded as quieter than those on past Hyundais. If you’re looking for a quiet ride without shelling out the big bucks, the Elantra is a great choice.
On the higher end of the market, the Audi A6 has a very quiet cabin. While it isn’t quite as quiet as the A8 with its double-pane glass, the A6 is built with the quality and design that have given Audi its reputation for creating quality premium sedans.
The Buick LaCrosse — especially the 2014 edition — has been lauded by journalists for its quiet interior. In fact, one reviewer called the car’s interior an experience in “utter serenity,” reporting that he could hear the tick of his watch while driving at 70 miles per hour. Buick focuses on quiet throughout the designs of their vehicle, a philosophy that comes together to make the LaCrosse especially tranquil.
The Chevy Impala isn’t a luxury sedan, but when you’re in it you’ll feel like you’re driving one. That’s in no small part due to how quiet the car’s interior cabin is. Consumer Reports gave the 2014 Impala the highest score out of any sedan, scoring it at 95 out of 100. The high-quality materials used in the Impala’s interior give it a hushed, comfortable ride.
The Ford Fusion is a stylish sedan that is solidly built. The heavy doors give the cabin a well-insulated feel that also helps keep noise at bay. This makes the Fusion a quiet ride, particularly compared to cars at a similar price point. The interior has plenty of noise-absorbing materials, and to further reduce sound you can opt for the hybrid options.
If a quiet cabin is important to you, be sure to plan ahead during your test drive. Pay attention to wheel size and tires, since those have a big impact on the amount of noise you’ll hear in the cabin. Also, try to test-drive cars in the same area, since controlling for the quality of the roads you’re on can also help you determine how quiet a ride a vehicle is.