Quietest Car

I can’t seem to find a list of gas-powered, production cars in terms of cabin noise (wind+engine+etc.). Does anyone know what the quietest car is (excluding electric or hybrid)? After years of driving my pony car (sometimes with earplugs), I need a respite.

Arguably, the quietest car is the Rolls Royce. They take this noise stuff real seriously.

I seem to remember in the early 80s, they were experimenting with Active Noise Cancellation technology, where the car measures the ambient cabin noise and then produce the same noise 180° out of phase to cancel it.

Don’t know if they ever perfected it though. Buy one and let us know.

I used to design mufflers for cars. IIRC, you basically get what you pay for in terms of quietness. Lexuses were always quietest in the cars we tested.

Nissan produced (maybe still produces) a luxury-type car for the Japanese market that used active noise cancellation, and in this country, I had some dealings with the Walker Automotive Co. when they were trying to make a muffler with active noise cancellation. It hasn’t really worked out yet because you need to put speakers in the muffler to produce the cancelling sound waves, and they deteriorate after a while, being exposed to the flow of hot, wet exhaust gas.

Quietness (noise, vibration, and harshness or NVH in engineer-speak) is a function of many things: the size of the muffler relative to the displacement of the engine, the sound-deadening materials built into the body and interior, the stiffness of the body, the suspension, the degree to which the engine is “balanced” and whether expensive liquid-filled engine mounts are used, and the manufacturing quality, among other things. The structural parts of the car have to be “tuned” mostly by trial and error in order to get everything just right. This is a costly and time-consuming process.

For these reasons, the quietness of a car is generally a direct function of the price you pay. Sports cars may leave a little sound and harshness in the design intentionally because people who buy sports cars expect that sort of thing. From a global perspective, American cars, especially Cadillacs and Lincolns and the like, are usually perceived as “too smooth” or mushy, because the driver’s contact with the road conditions is damped so heavily and the springs are too soft. My own opinion is that Honda and Toyota make the quietest reasonably-priced cars, and if you want to spend a little more, Acura and Lexus will make you happy.

My Infiniti is so quiet it’s hard to believe. In fact, some car reviewers complain about its isolation from the environment outside.

My father has owned 2 Lexuses, and I agree with City Gent. With both of them, the only way I can tell they are running from the inside is to look at the Tachometer. Even at highway speeds, there is almost no noise. It definately beats the hell out of my Jeep Wrangler, which is probably near the bottom of the list for quiet cars.

Subarus, and other vehicles with the “box-4” type engine.

The engine you’ve got is a very strong variable in the noise eqn. But as Tsunamisurfer points out, quietness is an area where you can get too much of a good thing. And besides, engine noise is a good way to determine if your car is having trouble before you find yourself on the side of I-96 with the hood raised.

I must agree. I own or have owned Infiniti, Maxima, Saturn, Buick, BMW, Lexus - and by far, my Infiniti (i30) was the quietest of all. Especially with acceleration and high external wind condition, many times i have to look at the tach to see if the car is running if i get out and back in.

I had a somewhat less sophisticated means of telling if the engine was on in my Infiniti: I had an absent-minded habit of turning the key when the ignition was on–yes, it is that quiet–and it caused, so said my mechanic, the teeth of the flywheel (?) to grind off.

Next car: Mercedes E 500