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Honda CRV: Road Noise for the Ears?
December 29, 2013 10:41 AM   Subscribe

My trusty Chevy finally gave up the ghost after eleven loyal years, thus I am in the process of picking out a new vehicle and have focused my sights on the Honda CRV EX-L. While this model is ranked by many as best in its class, one continual complaint I keep reading is that it suffers from excessive road noise. I would love any input from CRV owners or those who have had experience in riding in Honda CRVs.

Additionally, I am considering a Chevy Equinox, and do own a GMC Terrain which is very similar. I would love any input from anyone with experience with the Equinox, as well.

Thank you for the help!
posted by Atreides to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My sister has a CRV, and she loves it. After driving it, I was considering it until I tested a Subaru Forrester. I purchased the Forrester, not only because it was highly recommended but also because it was so easy to see front, back, and sides. I have had it two months now and I'm still happy with my purchase.
posted by francesca too at 10:59 AM on December 29, 2013

I bought a 2013 CRV in July and love it! I haven't noticed any excessive road noise at all. Maybe I haven't really been paying attention because this is my first new car in 12 years and it beats the piece of crap I was driving! I'm sure my boyfriend would notice, though, because he tends to pick up on that stuff. But now when we go out he much prefers my car to going in his Subaru Outback (which he loves!), so it must be ok.
posted by fresh-rn at 11:05 AM on December 29, 2013

I helped my niece buy a used 1997 Honda CRV and it has been an exceptionally good vehicle and CRVs are now my go to default need a good awd car. Very reliable (and that is based on experience with several 200,000k plus vehicles from friends and family) and extremely well thought out. Useful nooks and cranny's everywhere, controls are logical and were you expect them to be and the cars drives very well and isn't tiring to drive on long or short trips. The only complaint I have heard from an older lady I work with (who bought a 2013 when they first came out last year) is the rear seats don't fold down perfectly flat so her large dog crate doesn't sit quite right in the back (and she admits this is minor and the only problem with the car). She likes CRV's so well she they have been the last three cars she has owned. I have never heard (or experienced) excessive road noise on any of them even with all terrain truck tires installed (which also make pretty good snow tires).

My mom just bought a forester which is also a great car, but my experience with Subaru in general are they are not quite as well made as Hondas but are better in the snow and on dirt roads.
posted by bartonlong at 11:12 AM on December 29, 2013

I have a 2004 Honda CRV. I don't notice excessive road noise at all. I have had no problems except for power door lock issues (this year). I would love a new car but cannot justify it because the Honda CRV keeps running strong.
posted by Fairchild at 11:20 AM on December 29, 2013

Relative has a CRV which I have been a passenger and a driver in and I haven't noticed this at all. I have a Volvo wagon and it is a smooth, quiet ride and now I notice the absence of 'smooth, quiet' elsewhere, but wouldn't complain about that with the CRV.
posted by kmennie at 11:42 AM on December 29, 2013

I suspect the year of the CR-V makes a huge difference, with newer models having better noise insulation. I have a '98 CR-V (first generation) which has been a wonderfully reliable and versatile vehicle but it has always had a noisy cabin even on flat, smooth freeways and sounds exactly like a sewing machine when going up hills. My sister in law's second gen ('02-'06) CRV is not quite as noisy but still noisier than most other mini-utes of those years, my other SIL's third gen ('07-'12) CRV is decently quiet however suffers in comparison to the wonderfully silent Toyota Rav-4 for road noise (other then that, I like the CRV better).
posted by jamaro at 11:55 AM on December 29, 2013

I guess another data point wouldn't hurt. 2011 CRV here; no issues with road noise. I have had people comment on how "bouncy" the car is, especially on the freeway (when going over uneven terrain). Personally, I like that sensation more than the rumbling/scraping feeling you get with lower cars... if that makes any sense at all...
posted by madonna of the unloved at 12:43 PM on December 29, 2013

The thing about excessive road noise is that it's a subjective judgment. My advice would be to simply take one for a test drive and decide for yourself whether it's quiet enough for comfort. Make sure to take it out on the highway during the test drive, as that's where road and wind noise is at its worst.

Also, noise dampening is one of those things that gradually degrades over the life of a vehicle; also, standards have risen over the years. Chances are, any new car or truck is going to be quieter than your old Chevy. If you want to get semi-scientific about it, you could get a decibel meter (a phone app one would be fine for this, since you are only measuring relative loudness) and drive the same route in various cars (including your old one, if it's still drivable) to see which one is quietest. An increase of 10dB equates, roughly, to a doubling in perceived loudness. An increase of 3dB is about a 25% increase in perceived loudness.

This is something you'll just have to judge for yourself. If you're seriously considering the car then you'll want to take a test drive anyway.

I'm going to talk about the Consumer Reports reviews for three cars now: the Honda CR-V EX, the Chevy Equinox LTZ-V6, and the Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium 4-cyl CVT. (These may not be the exact trim lines you're interested in, but those are the ones Consumer Reports tested.) I like CR reviews for cars, as they are an independent, non-profit, non-ad-supported organization that buys all their own test vehicles anonymously and has been at this a long time. They are picky about road noise. I'll start with the CR-V.

1: Here's the Consumer Reports review of the 2014 Honda CR-V EX (Google Doc). They gave the CR-V EX an overall score of 77 (and a Recommended award) from a range of 49 to 88 in this year's small SUV reviews. Owner satisfaction, predicted reliability, and owner costs are all rated "Very Good" (4 out of 5). If it matters to you, it got an overall 23mpg (16mpg city, 32 mpg highway) in their tests, which I think are quite a bit more realistic than the EPA's. The CR-V EX-L (your preferred trim line) has a base MSRP of $28,945. (That's the recommended dealer's starting price with no extra options; you would probably pay a different price depending on options and haggling, but I'm putting it here for purposes of comparison.) Wind and engine noise were "muted", but road noise (from the tires) was "pronounced". Handling was generally good, but became unsettled at the limits. Rear visibility wasn't so great, but it has a back-up camera. The introduction follows:
The redesigned CR-V has more cargo space and interior versatility and slightly more power and better fuel economy than the outgoing model. Previous high points, like a smooth and unobtrusive powertrain, continue to be virtues. Handling is responsive in routine driving, but emergency handling is less competent. The ride is comfortable. But excess road noise and impaired rear visibility remain low points.
2: The Chevy Equinox LTZ-V6, which they consider a mid-sized SUV, rated a 66 overall out of a range of 20 to 89 for this year's cars in that category. It was considered the quietest of the three cars I'm mentioning, though not unusually quiet for a mid-sized SUV. It got 18mpg in their tests (12mpg city, 25mpg highway). It's a bit better on gas (though still not as good as the CR-V) with the I4 engine, but even Consumer Reports considers that engine underpowered for the car and they are not very picky about such things. The LTZ-V6 (the tested version) has a base MSRP of $33,400. Owner satisfaction, predicted reliability, and owner costs are all rated as "Good" (3 out of 5). The LT trim is closer to the price of the CR-V EX-L. They said it felt sluggish (even with the V6) in normal driving. Handling was again OK in general but sloppy at the limits. Shifting felt sloppy and jerky. The interior was a bit cheap (they actually said this for all the cars I'm talking about, but since the Equinox is considerably more expensive I'm only mentioning it here). Visibility could've been better, but again all but the base model have back-up cameras. Here's the Consumer Reports review for it (Google Doc). And here's the summary:
While it's not a bad vehicle, the competition has left the Equinox in the dust, even with a new optional V6 engine and a new infotainment system introduced for 2013. The Equinox and its twin, the GMC Terrain, split the difference between small SUVs such as the Toyota RAV4 and midsized models like the Ford Explorer. While they're nice and roomy inside, the Equinox and Terrain are less efficient than other five-passenger SUVs and burn as much gas as larger, seven-passenger models.
3: One car you didn't mention but which I'll bring up here is the Subaru Forester, which topped Consumer Reports' small SUV ratings this year at 88 points (and a Recommended award). They reviewed the 2.5i Premium 4-cyl CVT version (the "sweet spot", as they say, in terms of trim lines) which with a base price of $24,995 is the least expensive of the three cars I've mentioned here. They got 26mpg overall in their tests (18mpg city, 35mpg highway) which is the best in its class. Owner satisfaction and predicted reliability were rated as "Excellent" (5 out of 5) while owner costs rated "Very Good" (4 out of 5). It has a CVT, so transmission shifting should be completely smooth (you can also get it with a manual transmission if that's your thing). Visibility is excellent. Handling was "secure" but not as sporty as some other cars in this class. They did find the ride a little jittery, and cited a lack of bluetooth connectivity or audio streaming. Here's the review (Google Doc) and here's the summary:
The Subaru Forester sticks to the basics and embodies the saying "a steady pace wins the race." It has always been a sound, practical vehicle, although its plain, unpretentious demeanor hasn't helped it stand out to car shoppers in this crowded field.

With its 2014 redesign, Subaru continued to put function in front of form. It resisted the contemporary trend toward making SUVs look like sports coupes with descending rooflines and curvaceous bodies, instead focusing on the fundamentals with a space-efficient design, large windows, and big square doors. That recipe has resulted in the easiest access and the best view out of almost any vehicle, and one of the roomiest rear seats in the class, with copious head and leg room.
Bottom line: If I were going just from these reviews I'd pick the Subaru Forester, with the CR-V as a second choice. However, you will of course have your own priorities and I'd recommend taking anything that interests you for a test drive to see how you like it. Many of the things that reviewers comment on (acceleration, handling, noise, comfort, etc) are the sort of things that you can assess for yourself in a test drive. Do let us know what you end up picking, I'm always interested to hear what people on AskMe choose for their car purchases.
posted by Scientist at 1:08 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hi everyone, thank you for all the responses so far. I neglected to add a question regarding the CRV: if you do own CRV, have you retained the tires it came with and/or recommended or have you gone with different tires? I ask as I have read some owners have remedied some of the noise issues with different tires than the above. Again, thank you!
posted by Atreides at 1:49 PM on December 29, 2013

We have an '06 CR-V and we love it. I wouldn't say it's the quietest car I have ever been in, but I would not say "road noise" is something that leaps into my head when thinking about the car (you can just turn the radio up, after all!). It's reliable, very nice to drive, well-designed, gets good mileage, and fits my three dog crates (surprisingly roomy for a different body on a Civic frame - the rear seats fold upwards against the front seats, I am surprised even a very large dog crate doesn't fit properly if the seats are folded up). About the only complaint I have is that the back door opens sideways instead of upwards (this has been changed on the newer models, I believe, although I don't like their appearance as much). I do a LOT of driving in it (regularly 100 miles each way once or twice a week, plus city driving), and I love it.
posted by biscotti at 2:30 PM on December 29, 2013

I've had a '02 CR-V (AWD) for years. The previous owner put new tires on it because they were unhappy with the road noise. There's some road noise, but it handles so well and is so fun to drive + useful that I no longer care. At 84k, I think I'm set for a long time.

My parents have a '01 Forester (AWD) and a '12 CR-V (FWD). The road noise is way more apparent on the older model Forester, but that's a comparison between ~200k and ~34k mileage. Their CR-V is quieter than mine, but it's not a 'whoa, that's a quiet car' thing.

Go for the CR-V. The Foresters are really cramped in comparison and the CR-Vs are more versatile.
posted by msamye at 3:57 PM on December 29, 2013

I think you hit the nail on the head with your question about tires. The type of tire and the tread pattern can have a HUGE effect not only on road noise, but how the vehicle rides, as well. P-series (passenger) tires will generally give you a quieter, more comfortable ride than LT-series (light truck) tires. LT-series tires generally have more aggressive tread patterns and stiffer sidewalls which give better off-road traction and heavier load-carrying performance, but the tradeoff is increased road noise, a stiffer ride, and generally shorter life/faster tread-wear. Unless you spend a lot of time doing serious off-roading, you'll be find with an all-season P-series tire appropriate for your CRV, and probably won't have a problem with noise at all.
posted by xedrik at 7:14 PM on December 29, 2013

I have a 2005 CRV no excessive noise....this vehicle is fantastic.
posted by irish01 at 7:53 PM on December 29, 2013

xedrik is absolutely right that tires can make a difference. Road noise (rather than wind or engine noise) comes primarily from the sound of the vehicle's tires rolling over the pavement. (This is the category of noise that Consumer Reports dinged the CR-V on.) Some tires are absolutely quieter than others, and swapping out the OEM tires for a quieter set can definitely make a noticable difference.

As xedric says, P-series tires are usually quieter than LT-series tires. I'm not clear on what the exact OEM tire type is for the CR-V, but you may well be able to get a quieter ride by switching to something that's designed for a sedan rather than an SUV. You'll probably lose some off-road capability, but chances are you will never notice the difference as long as you stay on the road. The most important thing is to make sure that you buy tires that are the same size as the originals -- going to a different size, even if it fits on your rims, will affect handling and performance (probably negatively) and will also require that your speedometer be recalibrated.

Keep in mind that not every style of tire is going to be available in every size, and that SUVs are generally specced for larger tires that will afford you fewer options than you would get with a sedan. Here are the results on for tires sized for the 2014 CR-V EX-L. is probably the best site on the internet for choosing and buying tires -- their prices are generally good, and they have an active customer review community.

The 2014 CR-V EX-L comes with either Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS or Continental CrossContact LX tires. You might take a look through the rest of the results and see if there is another tire that you think would suit you better.
posted by Scientist at 12:07 PM on December 30, 2013

I didn't end up going with the CRV, but the decision was not made on the road noise. I found the noise was a complete non-factor. Ultimately, it was, partly, the seats being uncomfortable.

Thank you everyone for your input!
posted by Atreides at 5:57 PM on January 6

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