Which SUVs are quiet and reliable for long trips?

Is there an SUV or crossover that is quiet in terms of road noise, gets over 25 mpg, is good in snow and is reliable for long road trips?

Todd M., Chicago

About two-dozen all-wheel-drive SUVs are rated 26 mpg or higher on the highway by the EPA, but many may not meet your requirement for low noise levels. SUVs tend to be noisier overall than sedans because of their open cargo areas and because they’re taller and catch more wind.


Because your ears may be more sensitive to road noise than ours, we can’t guarantee the following SUVs will meet your decibel standards, but we believe they are quieter and more refined than most: Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe and the Lexus RX 450h and Toyota Highlander hybrids. Among those that probably wouldn’t make the cut because of road noise are the Honda Crosstour, Subaru Forester and the 2011 Honda CR-V. (The redesigned 2012 CR-V should go on sale soon.)

You also specified vehicles that are “reliable for long road trips.” If you’re talking about 500 miles, all SUVs should pass that test. If you meant, say, 50,000 miles over three or four years, we would suggest you look at J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study. The study measures problems on 2008 models during the third year of ownership, and among SUVs that placed in the top three of their categories for having few problems were the Edge, Santa Fe, Lexus RX and Toyota RAV4. So did the CR-V and the Forester, but we have noticed high levels of road noise in those vehicles.

Noise levels may vary among versions of the same model because they have a different tire size and/or tread design, so you should test-drive what you intend to buy.

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Answered by Rick Popely on December 21, 2011 in What Car Should I Buy? | Permalink

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