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Interior Noise Levels of Minivans

by Elizabeth Reuter

Many things can make riding in your minivan a loud experience. There's "road noise," or noise caused by things outside your van like your tires on the pavement. Wind noise can sneak into poorly insulated auto bodies. A non-muffled engine makes a racket when accelerating. Car engineers refer to these sounds as NVH, or "noise, vibration and harshness" levels. They are a problem, as high NVH levels can be connected to accidents, according to the University of Texas's Center for Transportation Research.

Chrysler Town and Country

Automotive.com noted that the 2010 version of Town and Country cut down on wind and road noise compared to previous versions. However, its engines remained loud enough to be distracting when pushed. Edmunds.com further heard the auto body rattling.

Dodge Grand Caravan

Though Edmunds gave the 2010 Grand Caravan a low overall rating, it did appreciate how quiet the cabin was, even on the highway.

Ford Transit Connect

In 2009 Ford announced its new Noise Vision technology, virtual technology that would help its engineers discover trouble spots in Ford vehicles. This, the press release promised, would allow them to create a quieter ride for passengers driving 2010 Fords. If Ford used Noise Vision to try to fix noisy areas in the Transit Connect, Edmunds couldn't tell. The 2010 Transit Connect had problems with wind and road noise and a rattling frame, and driving over uneven roads created loud, echoing bangs in the cabin. However, the Transit Connect is unique among minivans in being designed for small businesses to carry cargo, rather than for family comfort, so a silent ride might not have been a priority.

Honda Odyssey

Unlike the 2010 model, which had substantial trouble with road noise, the 2011 Odyssey almost completely wiped out road, engine, and wind noise according to Edmunds.

Kia Sedona

Automotive.com gave the 2009 Kia Sedona a high recommendation, and wrote that the engine--and cabin overall--stayed quiet even at high speeds. There was only slight noise from the engine during rapid acceleration, and the automatic transmission kicked a bit when pushed.

Mazda Mazda5

Automotive.com says that Mazda built the 2009 Mazda5, much like its predecessors, to be useful first and comfortable second. The reviewers heard only minor road noise; the way braking quickly echoed inside the cabin was the only significant disturbance.

Nissan Quest

CarGurus found the 2009 Quest--Nissan made no 2010 version--delivered a quiet ride without wind or engine noise. However, the reviewers noticed some road noise.

Toyota Sienna

Despite a powerful engine that accelerated quickly, Automotive.com noted that the 2008 Sienna stayed fairly quiet at whatever speed the reviewers pushed the car to, though the rear axle was noisy on bumpy roads.

Volkswagen Routan

The 2009 Routan was Volkswagen's first attempt at a minivan in years. It controlled wind and road noise well, and the standard 4.0-liter engine ran softly. The optional 3.8-liter engine could be noisy at high speeds, however.

About the Author

Elizabeth Reuter was first published in her high school's creative writing magazine in 1999. She then moved on to professional articles for venues such as Guadalajara's "Lost Ojos del Lagos" and the Post-Feminist Playground website. Reuter earned her Bachelor of Arts in international studies from St. Mary's College.

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