I live in Northern Ontario and I’m in my mid-50s. I am looking to buy an SUV with low cabin noise and low whole body vibration. My focus is my health. – Jo
Richardson: That’s a good focus and pretty much all non-performance vehicles are quieter and smoother than they used to be. Materials used for soundproofing are more effective and lighter than before and both chassis and tire technology have improved, in leaps and bounds.
Leeder: Jo hasn’t given us any budget and I’m feeling a little wild over here. Channelling you, Mark, I’m sensing we ought to take a reasonable, mid-range approach. What about the Subaru Forester? Subaru has been impressive in its embrace of technology inside the cabin, and the updated Forester is a quiet, reliable, pleasant ride. It has all-wheel drive and will be a champ on Northern Ontario terrain. The 2.5i Touring edition starts at about $35,000 (prices start at less if Jo will drive a manual), before taxes and fees.
Richardson: Car makers spend a lot of time and money on improving their vehicles’ NVH, which means “Noise, Vibration, Harshness.” They measure this with microphones and tuning forks, but the bumpy roads of Northern Ontario are an ideal testing ground. General Motors maintains a winter test facility in Kapuskasing. That said, I’d look first at the underrated Lincoln MKC. It’s a premium version of the popular Ford Escape, but triple-sealed for quietness and carefully tuned for a smoother ride. It’ll be noisier with winter tires, but check what tires are recommended by Lincoln.
Leeder: The folks at Honda have two great options you ought to consider. If you’re looking for a full-sized SUV, the Honda Pilot comes equipped with noise-reduction technology from its base trim upwards. From active engine mounts to acoustic glass on the windshield (and front door windows for pricier models), Honda has made a big effort in this department.
If you can get by with five seats, though, consider Acura’s RDX from Honda’s luxury arm. One of my top picks for snow driving, this model has Active Sound Control, a technology Acura claims has reduced cabin noise by 10 decibels over the last generation.
Richardson: I think every generation of vehicle has less NVH than the last, but some, such as the Pilot, go further to insulate drivers from the turmoil outside. Lexus also has a reputation for this sort of thing and the RX350 is whisper-quiet and buttery smooth. It’s pricey, with a base cost of $63,000 out the door, but then we don’t have a budget here to slow us down. The smaller NX is just as comfortable and comes in for less than $50,000. You look like you’re piloting a Romulan battle cruiser, but maybe you’re into that sort of thing.
Leeder: Of course you weaved a Star Trek reference into this. While Mark’s off watching sci-fi and playing with his Lego, I’ll say that maybe Jo wants a Romulan battle cruiser to handle the elements of Northern Ontario. The NX is my top pick. I had the pleasure of wrestling an NX up a snow-covered mountain last year so Lexus could prove to us just how good it is in the snow. Deep snow. The sticky kind that make gargantuan snowmen and ruins knees of new skiers. The verdict: that Romulan battle cruiser was an absolute beast. I’d buy it in a heartbeat.