Car recommendations: AWD Sedan that's quiet and safe
December 5, 2016 3:22 AM   Subscribe

We're starting to look for a second car. Much research will follow, but can you point us on our way with any recommendations for a AWD sedan that's quiet and safe? Generally always will be two adults and a car seat, so will need four doors.

Current car is a Subaru Forester. It gets the job done, but we find it really, really loud--lots of engine and wind noise. My wife also is just not a fan of SUVs, even small crossover SUVs like the Forester. We'll try the Legacy, Impreza and probably even the Outback, but my impression is that Subarus are often on the louder end of the spectrum. Different tires may help, but we're looking for more than that.

We are toying with the idea of leasing, a first for us, and thus might be able to swing a fancier car than we would otherwise if we were buying. I also like the idea of possibly getting a Tesla 3 in a few years when they have a track record, and thus appreciate the shorter time-commitment with this car that a lease would provide.

What do you recommend, hive mind, for a safe, quiet AWD four-door sedan for the Massachusetts winter?
posted by Admiral Haddock to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Subaru Impreza sedan is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+. A family member ran theirs for over 250,000 miles with low maintenance costs. It was reasonably quiet inside - I think it's worth a road test.
posted by fairmettle at 3:52 AM on December 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've got a Volvo V60 that I love. Don't have the AWD because I live in the Bay Area and it actually gets good mileage if you don't do the AWD. They have a cross country flavor as well but that may not be what you're looking for.

If you do buy the Volvo look into the European delivery option. You get a trip to Europe but you also get to customize the car. Essentially you don't have to purchase add-ons in packages all options are completely ala carte.
posted by bitdamaged at 5:31 AM on December 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

They also have the S60. Same car but a sedan.
posted by bitdamaged at 5:31 AM on December 5, 2016

I graduated from a Forrester (lovely, but noisy) to a Honda CRV and was impressed that I got the same MPG for what was basically a much nicer (and quieter) car. Once they sorted out the airbag issue, they're quite safe and anyone can work on them and fix them. I've driven them in MA in the winter and they are stable and good on the roads. Also check out the Subaru Crosstrek which are starting to show up a lot here (VT). Have not driven them, but they sure do look nice.
posted by jessamyn at 6:05 AM on December 5, 2016

One thing you may consider is finding a non-AWD sedan you like and putting snow tires on it for the winter. Since getting snow tires I have never been in a situation (living in MA and upstate NY) where I thought, "I wish I had AWD." Consumer Reports backs up the idea. It does say that AWD is better for going up hills, but I have not had a problem going uphill in snow and ice with snow tires (possibly could go faster with AWD). Plus, I believe the snow tires may be better for going back down. This is assuming that winter weather is the only reason you're looking for AWD; if not, just ignore me.
posted by Kriesa at 6:23 AM on December 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

My first thought was to look to Germany but the small BMW and Mercedes AWD sedans both get panned for high road noise.

The A3 might be worth looking into though, this update notes it as a quiet and enjoyable highway cruiser.
posted by ftm at 6:36 AM on December 5, 2016

The 2017 VW Golf Alltrack might fit your needs, if you can live with VW's corporate issues. It is slightly lifted from the base Golf height, but not as much as an Outback.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:36 AM on December 5, 2016

Audi A6 (or A4 if the A6 is too large or expensive for you). Audi's AWD implementation is much better than BMW or Mercedes in my opinion.
posted by primethyme at 7:29 AM on December 5, 2016

Lexus has several AWD models. I have a GS and I'm very happy with it. (We looked at Subaru, and their big sedan [Legacy?] was pretty cushy and quiet, but the Lexus still beat it.)
posted by spacewrench at 7:51 AM on December 5, 2016

Make sure you consider the trim level of the car you are looking at. There can be significant differences in sound deadening between a base model and top of that particular range/style/shape/number etc. A base model can often not have things like sound deadening in the boot on the lid, for instance, which creates a boomy kind of noise and general increase in bass noise.

So make sure you don't compare a Ford (base model) and Chevy (top of the range) and determine that the Chevy is quieter. Although, you know, don't buy either. Personally I'd consider Lexus IS250/350 , BMW 3 or 5 series or similar. I would also, without fail, get a three or four year old version of that car than a new one, every single time. For the same money as a new base model car, you can get the same version with all the bells and whistles that is a few years older. Ex-Lease cars are excellent for this, because people often look after them as if they are not their own (because they don't want the charges associated with a damaged car going off-lease).

Go to somewhere that has a good range of these kinds of cars (Carmax has a ton of ex-lease stuff usually) and spend some time road testing. Don't make a decision until you have road tested enough cars to understand what you get for your money.
posted by Brockles at 8:08 AM on December 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Infiniti G37x sedan is a popular snow car here in Salt Lake, aside from the Subaru's and Audi's. I have the coupe model, and can attest that it is remarkably quiet.
To Brockles point, used Infiniti's are a great deal (I paid $22K for a 3yo coupe which cost $50K new), they have a 4yr basic and 6yr powertrain transferrable warranty, and great resale value too (if bought used).
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness at 11:40 AM on December 5, 2016

I just bought a 2016 Impreza. They specifically worked in 2015 and 2016 to make that model a lot quieter (thickening the window glass, etc) - it's something i checked out when auditioning it because of earlier complaints and the promise of fixes. It's definitely a pretty quiet car, road noise is no issue - of course it IS a four cylinder so I CAN make the engine noisy but it seems suitably muffled by the rest of the car.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:55 AM on December 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would look into an Audi if AWD is a must, but I echo sentiments about winter tires. I put some on a 2007 Honda Civic (FWD) and it is unstoppable in Wisconsin winters.
posted by King Bee at 3:21 PM on December 5, 2016

The Infiniti G37x sedan is a popular snow car here in Salt Lake

Oh, I forgot they did a 4 wheel drive. In which case I'd absolutely recommend it. We bought one for my wife (2013 G37, non 4wd) and it is extremely quiet and a really very nice car. She is utterly delighted with it.

Different tires may help, but we're looking for more than that.

With a lease car, the temptation is to go for all season tyres. This is not only 'not-smart' from a tyre perspective (see all my other posts on this) but also means you are vastly more likely to get tyre noise. Summer tyres are quiet, All seasons are noisier, winter tyres are ALWAYS noisiest, but massively, massively better in the cold weather (which I think you know already).
posted by Brockles at 4:20 PM on December 5, 2016

The G37x isn't really loud but I wouldn't call it that quiet, either. I used to own one.

OP, the two cars that will give you the most quiet(and awd) for the least money are a Genesis G80 or a Chrysler 300. They're not to everyone's tastes, but I guarantee you're not going to get more quiet for less $.
posted by MjrMjr at 7:39 PM on December 5, 2016

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