Author Topic: *Quiet* small car?  (Read 6022 times)

Villanelle

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*Quiet* small car?
« on: January 13, 2018, 05:26:22 PM »
I'm about a year out from buying a new (to me) car, as I'll be returning to the US from overseas.  I'm starting my research, and once I have a list of 2-4 models I'd like, I'll put my dad on it and have him start shopping maybe 6 months out.  He's got a lot of time and is a great negotiator, and would enjoy trying to find me a car. 

Anyway, I'm narrowing the list, and will drive a few sometime soon, hopefully.  My last US car was a 200 Toyota Echo, and it was a great car.  My only complaint was the road noise.  I'd like something a bit quieter.  Any recommendations for a good quality, small car? (I probably want something anywhere from 2-7 years old.)

Cranky

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2018, 05:33:00 PM »
I think thatís the trade off - a small car is nearer the road, and itís noisier.

Weíre pretty happy with the Impreza, but we like the AWD in the snow.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2018, 05:36:36 PM »
I've been quite impressed with how quiet our 2017 Jetta is. Much quieter than a relative's Passat (2013 I think). We also had a 2015 Jetta before the 2017 (thanks, Dieselgate...) and it was pretty quiet too, although a bit louder- that could have been because it was a manual and lower trim level though?

Syonyk

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2018, 05:37:28 PM »
Avoid the Mazda2. It's quite loud.

kimmarg

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2018, 05:43:40 PM »
I'm happy with my Honda Fit. It's a bit louder with roof rack and snow tires but obviously those things are optional.

luciep

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2018, 05:43:52 PM »
The Toyota Prius is pretty quiet as well. I have a 2010 and people are always impressed by how quiet it is when I give them a ride.

ToTheMoon

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2018, 05:46:03 PM »
I have a '06 Mazda3.  It is not the quietest, but I have a roof rack on it which certainly contributes.  Also, the tires that are on it make a HUGE difference.  Love the car, sometimes hate the tires. :)

ketchup

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2018, 06:23:31 PM »
Recentish smaller cars I've driven that seem "quiet" to me are a 2013 Prius c and a 2009 Hyundai Accent.

Caveat: I may be a bad person to ask since my point of comparison is my old 1999 Chevy Metro I used to drive.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2018, 03:49:40 PM »
That's tough, small cars aren't known for being quiet.  That said, I'll second the Mazda 3.  I'm not really a fan of Mazdas but I rented one of those for a 1600 mile road trip and I was very impressed with it's blend of comfort, quiet, pep and fuel economy.  Also how well it got me to the cabin down 18 miles of dirt, gravel, and a bit of snow.  If I had to buy a car that'd be towards the top of my list.

Another option is to give yourself (and/or your dad) a project to make whatever car you get as quiet as you want.  Look into how car audiophiles do it.  You can get as intense as you want, including taking out the car seats to add dampening material to the floor, taking off the door panels to do behind those (biggest return on effort), or coating the wheel wells to remove tire noise.  You can do all the above in a weekend, but it's definitely a project.  But you can make any car as quiet as a 700 series BMW, which for a long time was the gold standard on quiet rides.

Villanelle

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2018, 05:20:18 PM »
I don't need "quiet" so much as I need "not loud", I guess.  A 2000 Totota Echo is very loud! 

The MAzda 3 wasn't even on my list, so I'll add that.  Thanks.  Any more suggestions are welcomed, too.  (Anyone familiar with the Nissan Versa Note?)

scantee

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2018, 05:44:54 PM »
I've been quite impressed with how quiet our 2017 Jetta is. Much quieter than a relative's Passat (2013 I think). We also had a 2015 Jetta before the 2017 (thanks, Dieselgate...) and it was pretty quiet too, although a bit louder- that could have been because it was a manual and lower trim level though?

+1 for my 2015 Jetta which is an automatic SEL. Test drove a Golf when I got the Jetta and it too was pretty quiet for a small car.


TheAnonOne

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2018, 07:44:54 PM »
I wouldn't buy a Corvette(for quietness) :)

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2018, 04:31:14 AM »
My C-Max Energi is very quiet, and of course any plug-in hybrid or electric will be extra-quiet when running on battery power.

lbmustache

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2018, 11:48:43 AM »
The German cars will be a bit heavier and thus quieter.

Newer models will be much, much quieter than old models. The difference between say, your 2000 Echo and a 2012 Corolla would be pretty substantial (IMO, without seeing the numbers...).

However your average newer car (I'd say 2008 and up, so last decade) should not be super noisy unless you're buying something teeny tiny, like a Yaris.

ChpBstrd

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2018, 12:07:47 PM »
Road noise is more a function of tires and body insulation than specific models. For tires, you want a boring "touring" tire with lots of tiny grooves. Bald tires, "sport" tires, or all-terrain tires will be noisier. I know audiophiles will pull out their entire car interior and line it with Dynamat at the cost of hundreds/thousands of dollars, but there are cheaper ways to do that. One option is to get heavy rubber all-weather floor mats and lay them on top of the existing floor mats. Another thing to do is buy several spray cans of rubberized undercoating and spray the hell out of the car's underbody (being careful to avoid the exhaust system and motor). Third - lots of noise comes in through the relatively uninsulated trunk/hatch area. I acquired a large fatigue-reducing rubber floor mat and cut it to fit over the spare tire in my trunk.

In terms of car selection, look for one with two sets of rubber seals in the door openings.

Mikila

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2018, 12:41:38 PM »
Probably not a Yaris.  We owned an Echo before the Yaris; while the Yaris is unquestionably quieter than the Echo, it doesn't compare to riding in my mother-in-law's Prius.

Aminul

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2018, 02:05:09 PM »
I recently upgrade from a 2005 Focus to a 2013 Focus and had been very happy with the lower level of noise.  I'll second the notion that tires make a big difference.  I noticed the added road noise when I put my winter tires on.  Good luck in the search!  That was certainly a factor in my car choice and it was difficult to find non-anecdotal information.

Villanelle

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2018, 06:42:47 PM »
Probably not a Yaris.  We owned an Echo before the Yaris; while the Yaris is unquestionably quieter than the Echo, it doesn't compare to riding in my mother-in-law's Prius.

Great info!  Yaris has on my short list (before noise has been factored in).  As long as it is noticeably more quiet than the Echo, I'll probably be fine with it.  It's not so much that I need "quiet" as "not so loud", so your post tells me that I may be fine with just about anything. 

My mom has a ~2016 Corolla and while it's not quiet, it's probably just quiet enough.  But it's not small enough!

HipGnosis

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2018, 11:16:20 AM »
Sound insulation for a quiet ride is something that sets premium - luxury cars apart from the 'std' cars.
Look at Acura, Lexus and Volvo rather than Honda, Toyota and Chevy.

My last 3 cars were/are Acura and Volvo. Not the cheapest cars, but the better value to me.

Years ago I was told to buy Olds instead of Chevy because Olds put in better seats - better springs, padding and material, and the seat is your direct connection to the car.   I don't know if that's still true.
 

GuitarStv

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2018, 11:25:19 AM »
You can actually buy sound insulation and install it along the floor and inside the door.  I remember that my did this with his Ford Focus when I was a teenager, and it made a noticeable difference to the sound levels in the car.

Villanelle

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2018, 05:32:44 PM »
Sound insulation for a quiet ride is something that sets premium - luxury cars apart from the 'std' cars.
Look at Acura, Lexus and Volvo rather than Honda, Toyota and Chevy.

My last 3 cars were/are Acura and Volvo. Not the cheapest cars, but the better value to me.

Years ago I was told to buy Olds instead of Chevy because Olds put in better seats - better springs, padding and material, and the seat is your direct connection to the car.   I don't know if that's still true.

I definitely don't need luxury car level quiet!  Just not 2000 Toyota Echo loud!

neo von retorch

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2018, 05:50:58 PM »
Haha yes just about any 2013-2016 car you pick will be much quieter than a 2000 Echo. Maybe they gave it that name for a reason. My top picks for you would be the Corolla, Honda Fit and Mazda 3. Between my wife and, we've owned each. The 2013+ Mazda 3 offers an amazing 2.0L engine that can get 40mpg. But if "small" is such a priority, the Fit is a better match. Honda engineers very solid vehicles. I think the road noise would be sufficient muted, though the tighter gearing on 5AT and 5MT Fits results in some louder highway engine noise. The last few years offer 6 speeds which slightly improve that.

ketchup

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2018, 09:21:32 PM »
Data point about a 2017 Corolla: it's loud as hell on the highway.  GF got one as a rental today.  Would not recommend.  It might be something stupid like shitty tires, but it's pretty bad.

Ecky

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2018, 05:15:36 AM »
While insulation and tires are definitely a big factor, there are a few others to consider.

Hondas (anecdotally) have a reputation for a lot of road noise, and I believe it has more to do with the type of suspension and bushings they use than anything.

I find the Prius to be pretty quiet (2nd and 3rd gen at least), so long as you aren't climbing hills. The engine really likes to rev, and tends to drone when it does.

Several manufacturers have spent pretty considerable time investigating rim design which absorbs sound.

Anecdotally, a German cars generally have a reputation for being quieter, but the total cost of ownership is also a lot higher on average. To some extent it's a matter of, what's your price?

neo von retorch

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2018, 07:26:55 AM »
Yes I don't think you need to spend luxury (or German) levels of cash to get quiet. The VW Golf would probably be a nice pick. Get out there and test drive them and then you can decide!

 * Nissan Versa
 * Honda Fit
 * Hyundai Elantra
 * Mazda 3 (2.0L)
 * VW Golf
 * Grumble, grumble Toyota Prius :-P

Once you've seen and driven each, you'll have a great idea about road noise and size!

Ocinfo

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2018, 07:54:10 AM »
I’ll add another recommendation for the Jetta. Have a 2013 that is pretty quiet and good to drive. Maintenance is relatively cheap in that it goes to the dealer once per year for about $400. I rent several cars (usually upgraded to BMW, Maxima, etc) per year for work and the Jetta compares well.


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getwiththeprogrammer

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #26 on: January 18, 2018, 08:11:00 AM »
The small and quiet combination is tough. Small cars tend to have small engines, so the manufacturers try to save weight, and all those seals and insulation seem to be the first to go.

Prius recommendation is good, maybe also the chevy volt although I haven't tried it. With electric or hybrid cars they try a bit harder because they know the silence of electric is part of the appeal.

I love really small stuff like the Fit or Yaris but they tend to have simple suspension in the back (peer under the back of the car and see if there is a bar going between the rear wheels) which will clatter over bumps a bit. Golf or mazda3 should be better in that area.

But whatever you pick, pay close attention to the wheels. Many cars come with a few different wheel options, you want the smaller wheels (within reason) because they will have tires with taller sidewalls. Not as "cool" (or responsive) as a low profile tire, but should be smoother.

GuitarStv

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2018, 08:25:17 AM »
But whatever you pick, pay close attention to the wheels. Many cars come with a few different wheel options, you want the smaller wheels (within reason) because they will have tires with taller sidewalls. Not as "cool" (or responsive) as a low profile tire, but should be smoother.
[/quote]

Smoother ride, better fuel economy, reduced pressure (which means less air leakage on average), cheaper . . . tires with taller sidewalls are better on every important metric.  :P

Villanelle

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2018, 05:22:40 PM »
Yes I don't think you need to spend luxury (or German) levels of cash to get quiet. The VW Golf would probably be a nice pick. Get out there and test drive them and then you can decide!

 * Nissan Versa
 * Honda Fit
 * Hyundai Elantra
 * Mazda 3 (2.0L)
 * VW Golf
 * Grumble, grumble Toyota Prius :-P

Once you've seen and driven each, you'll have a great idea about road noise and size!

My issues is that I will probably spend only 1 more week in the US before needing to make a list.  (The plan is to give my dad a list of 2-3 cars I would be happy with and 2-3 DH would be happy with--we will be a 2 car family almost certainly--and then set him loose on his search so that hopefully when we arrive back in the US he has bought at least 1 car for us as we will likely need it almost immediately for a cross country drive.)  So I want as narrowed as possible so that I don't eat up too much of my precious Stateside time driving cars. 

ChpBstrd

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2018, 06:53:38 PM »
Yes I don't think you need to spend luxury (or German) levels of cash to get quiet. The VW Golf would probably be a nice pick. Get out there and test drive them and then you can decide!

 * Nissan Versa
 * Honda Fit
 * Hyundai Elantra
 * Mazda 3 (2.0L)
 * VW Golf
 * Grumble, grumble Toyota Prius :-P

Once you've seen and driven each, you'll have a great idea about road noise and size!

My issues is that I will probably spend only 1 more week in the US before needing to make a list.  (The plan is to give my dad a list of 2-3 cars I would be happy with and 2-3 DH would be happy with--we will be a 2 car family almost certainly--and then set him loose on his search so that hopefully when we arrive back in the US he has bought at least 1 car for us as we will likely need it almost immediately for a cross country drive.)  So I want as narrowed as possible so that I don't eat up too much of my precious Stateside time driving cars.

Out of this list I would cut the Golf for being expensive and relatively unreliable, and the Elantra for being bigger than the OP seems to be wanting (although the Elantra hatchback is high on my own list of someday cars).

Of the remaining - the Fit, the Versa, the Prius, and the Mazda 3 - it's mostly a consideration of personal fit and preference. In financial terms, I predict you'll pay most upfront for the Prius (est. $9600 for a 2012 model) and least for the Versa (est. $7145 for a 2012 model), but their total costs of ownership are similar.

Use the following website to estimate the total cost of ownership (depreciation, insurance, repairs, etc.) for
https://www.edmunds.com/tco.html

galliver

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2018, 07:36:38 PM »
I thought the Honda Fit was pretty loud, personally. Yaris or Prius-C is a tin can, or rather, one tin can inside another and it *rattles*. The Accent was the only economy-size car we ended up really considering, but while I don't remember it rattling, the motor did rev pretty loud.

I think I remember all the cars in the size-up category from economy hatchbacks (Prius, Mazda 3, Elantra, Impreza) being reasonably quiet.

We ended up getting a Subaru Crosstrek...no regrets.

APowers

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #31 on: January 19, 2018, 07:45:12 AM »
Eh....My first car was a 1971 VW Beetle. The next car was a '67 VW Squareback with a negligible muffler situation. Drive one of those for a couple years, and then any car newer than 1990 will feel luxurious and quiet, lol.

acroy

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Re: *Quiet* small car?
« Reply #32 on: January 19, 2018, 08:06:53 AM »
Toyotas and VW's tend to be comparatively quiet. if you can swing a used Lexus - very quiet.

Tires make an enormous difference on any car.

Corvettes are very quiet & relaxed in 'tour' mode. Easy to cruise gently and serenely at 90mph. Get the convertible. It is actually quieter than the coupe ;)

Good luck!