The Price of Quiet Driving – A Noise Study of 35 Passenger Cars

Lexus LS 600h - The Quietest Passenger Car in the World

Lexus LS 600h - The Quietest Passenger Car in the World

What is the cost of experiencing a quiet driving experience? That question was posed when Swedish automotive magazine Vi Bilägare conducted a thorough measurement of the noise level at different speeds in 35 different passenger cars.

When speaking of noise inside the cabin of the car, there are three main types: road noise, wind noise and engine noise.

The test by Vi Bilägare was conducted on Swedish roads, which may well be the noisiest in the ‘developed world’. The rough asphalt used in Sweden is merciless on passenger cars, which are often poorly isolated. The result is pretty fierce road noise – the roughness of the asphalt creates vibrations that, via the wheels, are transported into the chassis, producing a low-frequency road noise. As stated by Vi Bilägare, this type of noise is the most treacherous since its monotonous sound makes drivers tired and dangerous drivers.

Automotive journalists Mikael Schultz and Erik Rönnblom spent a few days in the summer of 2008, measuring the cabin noise in 35 different vehicles. They collected more than 600 sound measurements via a professional decibel meter and then created a noise index.

The test crystallized a clear winner. Luxury car Lexus LS 600h had, by far, the lowest noise rating. It was the quietest car at all speeds measured; 50, 70, 90 and 110 kilometers per hour. Lexus thereby proves that it’s possible to drastically reduce the cabin noise – granted, this is a vehicle with a price tag of around 180 000 USD. Hence, quiet, comfortable driving comes at a steep price.

See below the top 10 quietest and loudest vehicles respectively when driven on rough Swedish asphalt. This is just the directional top-line results measured at 90 kilometers per hour. In order to really understand the individual decibel ratings, it is also relevant to look at the tire size and specific tire model used on each car that was part of the test. Merely changing to a different tire size and model can make a big difference in terms of road noise.

Top 10 Quietest Cars

Lexus LS 600h                   65.9 dBA
Mercedes S-class               68.7
BMW 5-series                     69.1
Volvo V70                            69.5
Renault Mègane                 69.6
Audi A6                                 69.9
Volvo S80                            70.6
VW Tiguan                          70.7
Toyota Prius                        71.3
VW Passat                           71.4

An interesting finding above is that the Volvo V70 Station Wagon was found to be quieter than the Volvo S80 Sedan – two cars that are built on the exact same technical platform. Traditionally, it has been said that the acoustics of the larger space at the back of a Station Wagon makes it noisier than a Sedan. But as can be seen in this case, that general rule of thumb wasn’t valid. Hence, if you really want a versatile Station Wagon with large boot space, yet wish for the car to be quiet, test drive a selection of cars and compare Station Wagons vs. Sedans to see which are noisier.

Top 10 Noisiest Cars

Citroën C1                             77.4
Nissan 350Z                        76.8
Ford Focus/Opel Astra     75.2
Skoda Fabia                         74.5
Toyota Auris                        74.4
Skoda Octavia                     74.1
Kia Cee´d 5d                        74.0
VW Golf                                73.9
Kia Cee´d SW                      73.8
Peugeot 308                         73.7

As can be concluded from the study, larger cars are generally substantially quieter than smaller ones. Driving around in a Citroën C1 with over 77 decibels at 90 km/h must be a rather painful experience. For those who are used to turning up the music to drown out the noise may not pay much attention to it. But it is a fact that increasing numbers of drivers are reacting negatively towards cabin noise, considering noise as a key parameter when buying a car.

The automotive industry should start paying more attention to acoustics to provide a more comfortable driving experience to the masses of people who crave smooth and relaxing car journeys that have them feeling refreshed upon arriving. It doesn’t cut it that you have to be wealthy enough to get a Lexus LS 600h in order to enjoy quiet motoring.

Do you agree? Which car do you currently drive – do you find it noisy or quiet? Please, comment below.

If you’re on the look-out for a quiet car, also check out our guide to getting a quiet car.

To learn more about cars and sound/noise, get your copy of the Quiet Cars eBook – Your Guide to a Quieter Ride – plus join the Quiet Cars online community.

Image: Lexus

Quiet Cars - An Introductory Guide to a Quieter Ride (eBook and online community)
  • marvinmcconoughey

    I agree completely. Nearly a lifetime of driving has shown that few cars are very quiet. Newer cars with larger wheels and less rubber in the tires seem worse. Many of the technological changes to improved efficiency also promote higher sound levels. Examples include skinnier tires, weight reduction, smaller engines that work harder, and direct fuel injection.

    The quietest cars I’ve had personal experience in include the large Cadillac of many years ago, the Volvo, one BMW sedan, and a very old Hudson Commodore with the straight eight cylinder engine.

    • Hi Marvin! Yes, ironically older cars are often quieter than modern ones. It seems there is a balance to be struck between road handling, safety and comfort. My view is that the automotive press and car manufacturers alike have put too much emphasis on sporty, precise road handling resulting in stiffer chassis etc – which in turn means noisier cars. I’m convinced that the automotive industry has underestimated and underserved the share of the market that favor more comfortable, quieter rides over noisy cars that are built for taking curves at high speeds. What are you currently driving?

      • marvinmcconoughey

        We currently have a 2010 Subaru Legacy with the 3.6r engine, a 1990 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham d’elegance, and a 2004 Ford Thunderbird. The Cadillac is a very good cruising car with many miles, but will soon be replaced by a new car.

        • What’s your take on the relative quietness in cars from Lincoln, Mercury and Buick? I have seen comments about the following cars being quiet when driving: Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Grand Marquis and various Buicks such as Buick LaCrosse, Buick Enclave etc. I’m curious as to how these cars behave on Swedish roads so will test drive older models of the Town Car and Grand Marquis respectively.

          • marvinmcconoughey

            I have no direct knowledge of the first three makes, but believe all to be very quiet. We did take a long trip in rental Mercury (big V8 sedan) a dozen years ago through several states and were impressed by its poise and quiet. Our host took us on a several-hundred mile trip in Sweden in the late 1970s and that car was very quiet. A 2013 Hyundai Equus I recently drove a hundred miles or so was extremely quiet except on rough asphalt where it deteriorated to merely quiet. I blamed the 19-inch wheels and thin tire thickness for the rapid sound deterioration.

          • Great that you have been to Sweden. Hope you enjoyed it! You’re right to blame the wheels – they represent a pretty significant source of road noise. Sweden has extremely rough asphalt throughout the country due to safety and maintenance reasons and here you have to use 16-inch wheels to have any chance of experiencing a barely acceptable noise situation in the cabin. 18-inch and over is out of the question, yet many people here – who do not consider the noise level to be a priority – still drive them due to aesthetics/coolness factor.

          • marvinmcconoughey

            Positive changes are on the way. Lexus now has hollow rim wheels with small holes tuned to counteract much of the road noise. Honda research has developed noise cancelling inner wheel liners that accomplish much the same effect. And Continental Tire Company has created a tire technology with a sound silencing inner liner. No word yet on when it will be available or how effective it is.

          • Yeah, it’s exciting to see noise-reducing solutions coming out of the tire industry. I looking forward to trying one of the new solutions out.

          • OldCroc

            As I mentioned in another thread – Continental have only made these tyres for two Audi models. No plans to make any more as they say there has been no interest from other manufacturers!!!

          • I wrote about this here:

            It’s really sad to hear that they haven’t gotten any interest from other car manufacturers. Where did you get that information? When I spoke to the Continental PR people in August 2013, it was still early days and they hadn’t yet signed any other manufacturers besides Audi. But I was sure additional brands would be added.

            I’m still hoping Continental will be smart enough to offer ContiSilent to a range of cars in the aftermarket, although it will probably take quite some time.

          • OldCroc

            This is the response I got from Continental:
            Dear Geoffrey,

            Thank you for your email.

            Unfortunately, the new ContiSilent technology is only available for the RS 6 and RS 7 due to specific internal noise requirements by Audi.
            At the moment it is not planned to further extend the ContiSilent range to other cars as no car manufacturer has specifically requested it.

            Mit freundlichen Grüßen/Best regards

            Felix Ziegler

            Continental Tyre Group Ltd
            Continental House, 191 High Street, Yiewsley, West Drayton, London.
            United Kingdom
            UB7 7XW

          • That’s a shame. But in a way maybe that’s a good thing, because if ContiSilent doesn’t get great traction in the Original Equipment segment then they may get into the Aftermarket quicker. I basically want that Continental should offer a range of dimensions of ContiSilent for the aftermarket so that anyone who wishes to reduce road noise via the tires can do so.

          • OldCroc

            Good point! I know car and bike manufacturers don’t like to stick to a single make of tyre – too risky – so hopefully some other brands will pick up the challenge. If all discerning car owners protested about the noise to their dealers that would help the cause, I am sure.

          • I totally agree with you that a bottom-up approach seems necessary in the car industry, i.e. the pretty sizable segment of consumers who find their cars too noisy should start challenging the car dealers a lot more.

            I have spoken to quite a few Swedish car dealers during the past year, and it’s staggering how uninformed they are when it comes to the noise issue. And the misinformation I keep getting is very surprising.

            The fact that they know so little and the fact that they do not seem eager to learn when I provide them with information they didn’t have, probably means that very few customers ask these types of questions.

            If the quiet movement would really take off in the car industry, I’d be hopeful that the customer voice will eventually have a bigger impact on the car manufacturers than what is the case today.

            Am curious, where do you live – and what car and tire (model & dimensions) do you have?

          • OldCroc

            Magnus I live in the UK and drive a new Volvo V40. I think the wheels are standard 16 inch. Current discussions with Volvo UK are not very promising and may result in me owning this car for the shortest period in my life – and I have had many cars! I have just completed at 2.5 hour journey and my ears are ringing! Conversation was difficult with my passenger on some surfaces. Not happy as I traded in a perfectly quiet and much cheaper car for this.

  • Jd

    Hi fully agree . when driving more than 130KM daily it does make a huge difference to have thorough noise isolation

    • It sure does. What are you currently driving?

      • OldCroc

        I drive a new Volvo V40 and have recorded just over 80 dBA at 120kph. It’s a killer and so far Volvo are not particularly interested…….

    • JD

      BMW 5 2009 model.
      Currently mainly the tyre noise is disturbing at high way speeds on rough (coarse ) surface.
      The new BMW 5 F10 platform should be better.
      Since it is a lease car I”d probably go for that next year.
      I was also very excited about the news from continental who is making their first contislent tires with noise absorbing foamfitted in the standard production tyre… “sounds” promising 🙂

      • OldCroc

        Continental are only making ContiSilent tyres for 2 Audi models at present. They say there is no plan for any more as they have had no interest from other car manufacturers!! Time to lobby your car manufacturers!

        • JD

          yep same for Pirelli and Dunlop . They only aim at RS6, RS7 and A8 (audi top models)… thanks for the FB…not sure how to lobby his though

  • Ben

    2011 Nissan leaf? 67.7 dB @ 70 mph (2011 model)…FYI 90kmh=56mph

    Even all 3 of 2013 US trucks have 69 dB or less at 70mph

    • Thanks for your comment, Ben! The roads in Sweden are way more noisy than in the US, so any decibel rating will be substantially higher in Sweden. Having said that, I have looked through ratings at and sometimes wonder if they have all been done consistently with the same method of measurement? Cars that I expected to be noisy ranked higher than cars that are widely seen as quiet. The ratings may be correct but I hope that they have a tight methodology so that it’s been done in the same way over the years. The parameter that still makes it difficult to compare decibel ratings is that for them to make sense, one needs to also have a close look at the wheel size and specific tyre model and dimensions used on each car that was rated. What car are you driving, Ben?

      • SF-z

        You are absolutely right about location of testing!! 🙂
        I drive Leaf. Love the carpool lane & saving on the gas.
        I live in SF Bay Area. I have 120 round trip daily commute

        I see that LS 600h has 59.8 dB @ 70 mph.
        I used to drive Honda Civic…love the drive but very noisy. I bought a pair of ear plugs from an indoor gun range with worked well (even though not legal to ear plug/headphones)

        Thx for giving perspective on the road conditions


        • Great, I’d love to try the Nissan Leaf out. And life in the SF Bay Area must be fantastic. 🙂

          Interesting, so it is actually illegal to wear earplugs while driving in the US? Granted, it’s best to hear as much as possible what’s going on around you in traffic, but earplugs is a necessary means for many drivers in noisy cars. Research has concluded that constant low-frequency noise risks making drivers fall asleep so in that way earplugs can actually mitigate certain types of accidents.

          • Quiet Please

            Exactly Magnus! I think it’s illegal to wear headphones that go in your ears, because that would make it hard to hear what’s going on around you, but earplugs just “lower” the volume is all. It shouldn’t be illegal to protect your hearing. :-/ I’m very cautious of these types of things. I wear ear protection when I use my blender, and I have a very quiet hair dryer also–and I have great hearing! My siblings sadly haven’t been as careful, and they can’t hear nearly as well as I can and one has tinnitus too. 🙁

            Thank you SO much for bringing awareness to this issue! I am going to check out this website some more for sure. I’m hunting for a new “quiet” car, so this is very helpful. 🙂

      • marvinmcconoughey

        I’ve been on Swedish roads and consider them quieter than Oregon roads. Much depends here on the specific road since freeways are often noisier than rural two lane roads.

        • pdxpaul

          Yes, the roads in Oregon are ridiculously loud. Louder than any state in the union (with the possible exception of some parts of Washington state). I am always amazed when I go elsewhere — the Midwest, the Northeast, California — how much quieter the roads are. Can anyone recommend a quiet car for Oregon roads that also gets good (30+ mpg) gas mileage?

          • akai

            pdxpaul, I, too, am looking for a quiet and small car (good gas mileage). My 1998 Nissan Maxima is finally needing replacement. I’m used to a good ride, and fairly quiet cabin. I don’t want to buy premium fuel any more.

  • marvinmcconoughey

    I drive a 2010 Subaru Legacy 3.6r with the six cylinder engine. It is unacceptably noisy on Oregon’s typically noise roads. The chief noise source comes from tire interaction with the coarse aggregate often used by Oregon. Changing tires to a quiet-rated tire did little to alleviate the noise. We now have a different car on order.

    • Interesting to hear that Oregon, like Sweden, also has noisy roads. Perhaps it is due to Oregon also having a colder climate, putting more strain on the road surface during the winter? Do you know why the Oregon roads are louder than in other US states?
      Exciting, which car have you ordered?

      • marvinmcconoughey

        I’ve been told that the coarser aggregate creates longer lasting roads. Not all Oregon roads are equally noisy. The local roads are sometimes coated with a tar overlay which makes the road quieter until the underlying aggregate is exposed through surface wear. Other roads have no such overlay.

        • The situation sounds similar to the one in Sweden. There are 3 main reasons for Sweden’s rough, noisy asphalt: 1) the demanding climate, 2) many drivers use tires with spikes in the winter time, which tears up the surface, and 3) the state transportation authority has defined a vision of 0 deaths in traffic. However, experiments are underway to come up with less noisy surfaces since recent research confirms that the current roads produce a constant low-frequency road noise which is tiresome and can lead to drivers falling asleep, causing accidents. I don’t expect any improvements in the short-term, but am hoping also Swedes will be able to drive on smoother roads in the future.

        • ReasonedOpinion

          The coarser surfaces are done to help increase grip in extreme cold weather, since a smooth surface when wet or icy presents very little “biting” edges for the tires to grip on to. Here in Canada we have the same problem. My Mercedes E550 on Michelin MXM4 tires would roar loudly on coarse surfaces and yet be virtually silent on Californian roads.

  • ex trucker

    I had a Ford focus 1.8 2011 but the road noise was to much I changed tires but not much joy there .I have now bought a Renault Megan coupe 1.5dci and it is much better on most road surfaces its great just the roughest get a bit harsh but I can now listen to the radio at normal level.

    • Hi! Am glad to hear that you experienced a great improvement by changing from Focus to Megane!

  • Abram McCalment

    Agreed. There should be maximum limits placed not only on pass-by but also cabin noise while cruising. On the same thought, there should be standards on road surfaces in order to limit the use of unground concrete and other noisy surfaces alike.

    • Hi Abram! I fully agree that there should be standards that restrict the use of too coarse/rough/noisy road surfaces. I have already mentioned it a few times before, but Sweden has one of the noisiest road surfaces in the world – a certain type of very rough asphalt with visible small stones is used. It’s absolute terror to be driving around on Swedish highways. Personally, I have tinnitus so I’m especially aggravated by this, but Swedes in general react when they travel by car from Sweden and experience how things go very quiet as soon as they hit e.g German roads. Where do you live? What are the road surfaces like there?

      • Quiet Please

        I live in Texas, USA, and the country roads/highways have these same surfaces you’re talking about with the small stones–terrible! I actually wear ear plugs when I’m driving (in my ’99 Lexus SC400) on these. You can still hear sirens, etc. around you and the radio as well, but the earplugs just help remove some of the “roar.” I wish cars were made quieter!

        • Sorry to hear that you also have noisy surfaces in Texas. Have you tried reducing the road noise by changing tires? It won’t work wonders, but it can actually deliver a noticeable noise reduction.

          Btw, I love Texas. Have been to Dallas a few times and watched Emmit Smith score lots of touchdowns for the Cowboys in the early 90s. 🙂

  • Pingback: NewsSprocket | Silence Is Now A Luxury Product()

  • Timothy Oliver

    I FULLY agree and not just for luxury cars ( also known as large cars in the U.S.) but I’d like to see it offered in the fully equipped lower end cars. A quiet car makes even a low end car more pleasant and enjoyable and feel more like a premium automobile.

    I hope the engineers in the automotive industry are watching this website and particularly this thread. Otherwise I don’t know how we can communicate to the manufacturers that quiet cabins are a highly desirable trait in their entire product offering.

    • Thanks for the comment, Timothy! Yes, I certainly hope that – within the foreseeable future – one manufacturer will decide to take the lead in terms of offering low- to mid-end cars with pleasant acoustics.

      Am curious, what car are you currently driving? How do you experience the noise level?

      • Timothy Oliver

        I currently drive a 2002 Chevrolet Impala purchased because I was doing a lot of highway driving and this car fit the bill for a comfortable long highway drive without feeling too fatigued afterwards. It is quieter than a lot of cars not as quiet as others and I purchased quiet tires to help with that. For my next car I want quiet and efficient. I drove the 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL and there was a lot of road noise at highway speeds. I drove the 2014 Chevrolet Impala and it’s quiet at highway speeds, just not as efficient as a diesel engined Passat. Do you have any suggestions short of the Mercedes S class?

        • I haven’t driven any myself, but I’ve heard from Americans that Buicks are pretty quiet. Have test driven any of their models? Probably also not as efficient as the Passat though.

        • Btw, which tires did you find particularly quiet for the Impala?

    • John wolf

      This is not difficult. The smaller and thinner the wheels, say 14 inch and the thinner and more higher the profile of the tire= Less road noise, no matter what type of car you have. An example, a citroen 2cv with very thin high profile tire is actually pretty quiet. My Buick with 205 70 15 tires is very quiet. my BMW z4 with very low profile tires was very noisy. I want so much to have a small car that is quiet and comfortable.

      • Timothy Oliver


        So the question then becomes does quiet car = compromised handling? Smaller and thinner wheels and higher profile tires sounds like bad handling to me versus lower profile tires and bigger/wider wheels. Maybe there’s an X/Y intersection where we can have both quiet AND good handling. Currently that intersection seems too low. I currently drive a 2013 Hyundai Genesis V8 that is somewhat quiet and handles well for American roads. I’d like to increase the quiet factor though. I get too much tire noise. Engine and wind noise are acceptable but that tire noise has to go. To get around it I turn up the 17 speaker stereo system. I hear the 2015 model has much better noise reduction.

        • vor24

          In the late 90’s, people started to lose good sense about aspect ratios. That was the peak of correct design. Now wheels are typically too large and aspect ratios too low. For example 15″ wheels, with 195/65 tires, are the best choice for a 98-02 Accord. But also probably any car that size. Noise, comfort, suspension performance/life, efficiency are all best balanced with handling. More handling is just overkill. Tires are an important part of the suspension, and less air volume is just dumb. I do like to use slightly higher pressure, around 40 lbs. This gives you a little ‘better’ feel and marginally reduced roll resistance but you still retain the air volume and sidewall height advantages. Yes they are advantages, not disadvantages like ‘everyone’ would lead you to think. Larger wheels, and also wider tires, reduce acceleration by increasing something called rotational inertia. So does a heavier tire of the same size. The extra width tire, and/or larger hoop wheel, adds weight at the worst place to try to turn the wheel. It’s affects are more pronounced and important that you’d think. Anytime you accelerate, it affects performance/efficiency. It has little to no affect on cruising. I personally tested 15, 16, and 17 with a few different width tires. I also used a rotational inertia calculator of aid my driving tests. It stated, and testing confirmed, that going from stock 15 wheels/tires to 17 with 205 tires can have the same affect on acceleration as if 3 passengers joined you! Having 17 inch wheels on such a car is as ridiculous as driving around with a helmet and racing harness. Neither belongs on the street. Only on the track. I ended up with stock size aftermarket alum wheels that were lighter than the original alum wheels (original size tires). So the car gets quicker or more efficient acceleration. All driving can be done well controlled on any road if you are anywhere near the speed limit.
          The wheel/tire sizing design sensibilities were correctly tuned (considering ALL aspects) just before the fashion of thinking that passenger cars needed formula 1 influenced wheels/tires infected, and perverted, the market’s collective view of what was appropriate.
          Yes of course in the 70’s we had ‘boat cars’. But now we have cars that have ‘swung too far the other way with regards to wheel/aspect choice’. So now we have reduced efficiency, reduced comfort, increased noise and noise fatigue, increased suspension wear, reduced snow traction, all for the sake of handling and traction that clearly and significantly exceeds mission requirements. Further, its not that simple, because wider doesn’t always grip better…and better grip itself is not always better beyond a point…there is such thing as a bit too much, and now many more of use are riding on it. But wider is ALWAYS slower to accelerate or less efficient. I think I am a small minority that’s aware of these issues. But I’m not nuts. If you study it the way I have, you will likely come to same conclusion. Most of us still think 500HP is too much (and of course it is). But we’ve been somehow influenced by non-objective forces into thinking that likewise excessive wheels/tires are somehow now magically not excessive. Well they are, and its costs us in the above mentioned ways.

          • jak

            Great data, great post thanks.

            I have railed against this as well. A production car today, making legal maneuvers, or even somewhat faster than legal maneuvers, cannot break the grip of a 15″ or 16″ wheel with the best performance tires available. Modern tires can provide massive traction!

            “Have we lost our balance” – Part of the answer to this is that everything is a profit center! Just check the cost of a 16″ wheel, then the 17″, then 18″, then 19″ for the same vehicle. The price of the larger wheels skyrockets. Each item is marked up something like 100% from the manufacturing cost and everyone in the supply chain gets a cut of that. Thus the fad proliferated fast. Money talks.

            I mention this because it relates to traction as well: AWD or 4WD is not needed by anyone who does not ride off road. Yes, I have spent my entire life in the NE with the worst winters possible. The fact is that a set of 4 snow tires that stick to ice (like Blizzaks) on a 2wd car perform better in almost every test than an AWD vehicle with all-seaon tires (which is what most people use for their AWD vehicle). There is a test on Youtube that Michelin, of all businesses, did demonstrating this.

            So there you go – Everyone is buying AWD SUV’s because they are “safer in the winter.” Not true at all. But why has this proliferated? AWD costs somewhere from $1500 – $2500, another profit center.

            Yes you may spend $600-$800 on winter tires, however, that is not all additional cost. Your summer tires do not depreciate at all while they are off the car, and last twice as long. So the incremental cost of winter tires is far less than any AWD system. And we haven’t touched on the repair/replacement of AWD systems at 150-200k miles, another huge cost. Along the topic of the article, an AWD system will produce more noise, but the car may not be overall louder as the tire and engine noise overshadows other mechanical systems such as the transaxle.

            The bottom line: If it can be fattened, made prettier, give people more confidence, and a profit can be made, the whole mfr-consumer system will make it happen, even if it produces zero tangible gain.

  • Pingback: Silence Is Now a Luxury Product: A report on the quiet-car-ization of America | Bamboo Innovator()

  • Pingback: In auto design, fuel economy saves money but silence is golden()

  • Pingback: Silence is Golden | In my anguish…()

  • Lisa Mac

    I did a search for quiet vehicles and discovered this article. I currently drive a Honda Odyssey; it is so noisy. Road noise, wind noise. Really makes me miss my Toyota 4Runner. Wanting a new car and was shopping for a quiet one. My husband, kids, and I all have to practically yell at each other to talk in the Odyssey. Will likely go back to Toyota. Now to get my husband on board the “new car train.”

    • Hi Lisa! Sorry to hear about your noisy driving experience in the Honda Odyssey. And good luck with getting your husband on board to find a quieter solution for y’all. 🙂

  • Ethan503

    Ive owned severl lexus LS models, and they are all superb, by far the quietest most comfortable, feature laden cars I have ever driven.

    I live in Oregon 😉

    • Ethan, I can’t deny that I’m very jealous of you. 🙂 I have test driven various LS models and find them amazing. Which model year are you currently driving? And from your experience, which has been the 2nd most quiet car that you have driven, besides the LS?

  • JJ

    How come the Infiniti is not on the list?

    • This particular study was conducted in Sweden, a market in which the Infiniti is not available. Are you an Infiniti owner? I still haven’t driven one, but have heard good things about it.

  • Tony Thompson

    hehe, I drive a 95 ford Thunderbird with all the vibration dampening/sound insulation gutted from the cabin/trunk/hood. you can certainly hear all the creaks and rattles but I don’t mind, the car is more efficient in town, it handles a bit quicker, and most importantly there is less stress put on the rest of the car. I realize that I’m willing to put up with an awful lot in the name of speed, handling and efficiency though. My mother drives a Lincoln town car, and she doesn’t understand why I would want to drive something so spartan 🙂

    • Hi Tony! How come you removed all the sound insulation from the hood – have you filled the trunk with speakers? I’d go with your mum’s choice. It’s a very large car, but I love the smooth ride of a Lincoln Town Car. 🙂

      • Tony Thompson

        No speakers added. The reason I’ve taken insulation out is because I race autocross as a hobby, the Thunderbird, though marketed as a sports coupe, had a very overweight unibody construction, as well as an iron block v8/boat anchor which makes it “very” nose heavy. Beyond that I just don’t see a problem with being able to hear your own engine functioning 🙂 I certainly enjoy driving the towncar now and again though, I’m disappointed that they discontinued production of it as well as the crown vic.

  • Manish Vishnoi

    Having driven honda civic type r , BMW M, Jeep Gc , Mercedes E , toyota corolla, golf vw , passat , in my list there is one clear winner , my much loved Citroen c6 .

    • Hi Manish, it’s great hearing from you! I also really like the feel of driving a Citroen. Which model year is your Citroen C6?

      I test drove the new Citroen C5 and loved the driver experience. It felt refined. However, I had hoped for it to be quieter, especially since the multifaceted sound-proofing measures have been marketed here in Sweden. One explanation, though, is that the car I test drove was equipped with 18-inch wheels.

      I think it’s great that the C5 comes with laminated/noise-reducing windows as an option, but it’s a shame that you have to pick the business package that requires larger wheels/tires in order to get those windows.

  • Gio

    Hi Magnus,
    What SUV brand would you said is good for this matter. I’m trying to compare SUV’s to buy my new used car (2011- 2013). I lived in Chicago,


    • Hi Gio! Exciting to get a new car. The SUV segment is unfortunately a segment that I have too little personal experience with. I have mainly driven the Lexus RX.

      Have you checked out the German cabin noise test at?:

      It probably lacks some of the SUV models you’ll be considering in the US.

      Anyone else who would like to chip in and give their take on smooth SUV driving experiences?

  • Manish Vishnoi

    @magnus – c5 is actually pretty good – smaller wheels will help and so will the acoustic lamination in my opinion it’s one of the quietest car and really comfortable as well – the c6 was a 2009 model – they can be had really cheap ( at least in the UK ) , it has it’s own flaws , but as a cruiser loved it .

    • The Citroen C5 has been advertised as a vehicle with thorough work on making it as quiet as possible. I test drove it and loved the feeling in the driver’s seat. However, it was a disappointment that the noise-reducing windows were only available as part of the business edition which in turn required larger wheels. I would have wanted all the quietest features coupled with the smallest tires, but that is unfortunately not possible.

  • Manish Vishnoi

    Think about the new jeep grand cherokee with smaller wheels – pretty awesome

  • Cimh

    Great site. Noise is right up there for me as a key factor when choosing a car. Currently have a 2011 ford mondeo titanium. 2L D. Biggest problem as all the reviews say is road noise. I tried changing to some of the quietest rated dunlop tyres but it made no difference. I suspect its the 235/45 r17 width of the tyre and large rim thats the problem but as I understand it if you change wheels or tyre size you have to notify insurance company – and I suspect that means a price hike – is that right?

    Id be interested to know if other mondeo owners have tried this?

    • Hi! I’m not sure how a change of wheels and tyres impact the insurance price. That probably also depends on in which country you live, so please check with your specific insurance company. There is a clear need for modern cars to be made much more quiet so any tweaks that we as owners can make have a limited effect. Having said that, I have myself noticed a clear difference when trying different wheel sizes and tyre models on a given vehicle, so that’s definitely an interesting avenue to explore. Sorry about my late response. What have you tried since you wrote your comment?

  • Teodor M

    Yep, the Auris is definitely a noisy car, one of the noisiest I have ever driven. I’m thinking of isolating the wheel arches, trunk and bonnet as it seems to be the easiest diy job of all. Also the car can be driven in any given moment if needed.

    • Too bad the Auris is so noisy. What would you say are the car’s strengths? If setting the noise aside, I do enjoy other aspects of the smaller Toyota models.

  • Jon B

    I drive a 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid that is pleasantly peaceful at highway speeds. I am now looking for a quiet, small SUV to replace a 10-year old Honda Element; perhaps not difficult to improve upon.

  • Kamy Baker

    I would love economic car with low road noise suggestions? I can’t afford a luxery car. What’s the best one out there today?

  • Russell Rutter

    Buick Lacrosse is up there in ratings according to edmunds and the cars you tested.

    • Yeah, I have read in numerous places that Buick is a brand that offers fairly quiet vehicles. I have yet to test drive one of the Buicks myself. Do you own a Buick Lacrosse?

      • Russ

        yes i own a 2014 model.
        I bought it because of how quiet it was.

  • Justme

    How can VW Golf be on the most noisiest list, it is supposed to be one of the most quiet cars out there?

    • I have never perceived the VW Golf as one of the most quiet cars out there. Where do you live? Has that image been built through the Volkswagen advertising? Although, in its sub-category the Golf is probably doing quite well.

      • Justme

        I have driven VW Tiguan (2007 and 2010) and have found it capable of luxury quietness given the right conditions and tire selection. Based on many reviews the VW Golf (well, any recent one say 2010 onwards) is almost always described as very well insulated with very little noise. But I guess that is a relative sub-category thing, then. I must take both a Renault Megane and a VW Golf for a test drive to compare… I was not aware that the Megane excels in quietness and always assumed quietness was a VW Golf specialty for smaller cars. Thank you for this very interesting article!

    • Sean

      I had a 2009 Golf GTI and the road noise was so bad I drove around with ear plugs. Easy for me to believe it is one of the noisiest.

  • Worto

    I agree with pdxpaul: we need quiet cars to deal with Oregon’s poor road surfaces. Too many folks are using studded tires when they don’t need them, damaging the roads.
    I would love to find a quiet mid or small car. Things have gotten way out of control with the wagon wheel/thin tire fad. No one ever approaches the traction limits of even a 60 profile tire, so who needs a 50? We’re not driving on race tracks.

    • Thanks for your comment! It seems that the roads in the northwestern part of the US share similarities with the rough road surfaces in Sweden. Agree, it’s hard to understand why the automotive media focuses so much on the handling of cars driven at high speeds in steep curves as if driving on race tracks.

  • Pingback: 7 seater cars - Dnews()

  • Arne Svendsen

    A quiet driving experience and good suspension are the two most important qualities of a car. Who wants to listen to wind noise and feel every bump in the road. I dont understand how this can be so hard to understand for the automotive industry. Just isolate those cars for god sake.

    • Arne, I fully agree with you. Quiet value propositions are on the rise in numerous different product categories and I’m hoping it will soon reach the car industry as well. There is a sizable crowd of car owners who would love a nice and quiet ride in all price segments.

  • Rob

    My 2013 VW Jetta is quieter than the VW Passat, they should have tested it, I have no wind noise, and the road noise is very low also. The VW Passat has known annoying wind noise. The jetta is one of the quietest cars for the price I think, and I’m very picky about noise.

  • Ronald Ouellette

    Keep this forum alive- it is a worthy subject with too little attention, and the manufacturers need to know people are paying attention. There are remedies manufacturers can take that would pay big dividends yet would not increase cost of production all that much, like acoustic foam in the right places. But there is little incentive for them to do so because many people would not buy a high-end car if they could get a mid-level car that was just as quiet.

    I had a 92 Audi 100 that was so quiet it was like driving an electric vehicle. This was due to a combination of factors including tight-fitting double door and window gaskets, normal profile 60 series tires, a vibration damping flywheel, and double walled exhaust pipes.

    But one day I had to lift some carpeting to route a few wires and was amazed to find the entire floor and transmission tunnel covered with tightly fitting neoprene (think wetsuit) about a half inch thick. This car was so quiet you could floor it at 40 mph and bring it up to 80 in a few seconds and hear nothing at all. Neoprene may be too costly for manufacturers to install in a cheap car, but there must be something similar they could do. But the problem is that such improvements are hidden and not conducive to marketing unless the manufacturers know we are paying attention to the RESULTS- noise reduction.

    • ReasonedOpinion

      I agree. My current objective is to find a really quiet car for the looong journeys I frequently make. 1000km in a day.
      I need quiet at a reasonable price, don’t really care about cornering/handling on the twisties since 99% of my driving is not a “race”, but rather about getting there quietly, comfortably and unstressed. Currently looking at Chevrolet Impala. Will be looking at high profile tires.

    • Hi Ronald, thanks for sharing! I would love to build a community around this topic to spread knowledge and put more attention on cabin noise. I intend to continue with this site in a more active fashion moving forward, but I have now also decided to launch an eBook on Quiet Cars plus form a Facebook-based Quiet Cars community to make discussions more dynamic and interactive. If you’re interested, get the eBook and join the community here:

  • stuart thomson

    Hi All
    I live in Central Scotland and the quality of the road surfaces poor, I have two Skoda’s 2009 Octavia estate 1.8tsi which is not quiet on rough road surfaces I purchased a set of Dunlop tires which should have been the quietest in reviews not made any difference
    2013 1.6 Greenline diesel Yeti I purchased a sound insulation kit and fitted it. It has made a difference its quieter than the octavia but not ideal
    I have test driven a few new cars to find quieter ones new Golf quieter , Audi A6 allroad nice and quiet but out of my price range
    I have taken out the new skoda Octavia and its not any quieter than mine which I’m very disappointed about and have said to Skoda Uk they don’t seem bothered I really rate the Skoda’s but I won’t be buying another until they address the noise issue

    • Ed

      I had 2007 Octavia RS with TFSI petrol engine and found road noise on coarse surfaces very high. What I did is straipped down all interior and used fleece insulation wherenever possible. It did help me a lot of course it is nowhere near BMW 7 quiet but it made huge difference.

  • Derek Weinrich

    I actually drive a Nissan 350Z. I’ve driven it for 5 years with many 500 mile trips. Last year I bought a 1997 BMW 740iL as a winter car and am astonished how quiet it is on the highway during trips! I can actually whisper to my passengers at 70 mph! Every time I return from a trip in it, I cannot stand to take my 350Z on the highway even for a minute, the road noise is SO BAD I cannot focus on my audio CDs! I am currently looking into putting dynamat below the carpet in the cockpit, trunk and in the doors. People on the forums say it really reduces the decibils at highway speed. I didn’t realize until now my 350Z is the 2nd noisiest vehicle (in the test)!

  • Thanks for all engaging comments on this post! I’m excited to announce that I am about to launch an eBook about Quiet Cars accompanied by an exclusive Facebook-based online community. The Quiet Cars community will be a great place for anyone interested in cars and sound/noise to share thoughts and insights with like-minded individuals worldwide. Get the eBook and join the community here:

  • Ibrahim Yousif

    First of all, Thank you for this thread I enjoyed reading it. And yes I do Agree with it. I currently drive a 2008 Mercedes C300. it’s very quite but I still want it quieter. I wanted to buy a 2016 C300 I took it on a test drive and the road noise was very bad made me keep hanging with my 2008 c300 instead. Run flat tires increase the road noise so much. I’m still searching for a quieter car and that was the reason to come here and read this

  • John P

    I have a 2010 Nissan Versa Hatchback and measured the interior noise at aprox. 85dB while driving 75Mph on a recent road trip. Min (dB): 82.1, Max (dB): 92.8, Peak (dB): 100.9, Leq (dB): 86.8

    That’s loud enough to cause hearing damage over a four hour trip.