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The Best Small SUV For Cabin Quietness, Subaru Crosstrek And The One To Avoid

If you value a car with a quiet cabin, which is the best subcompact SUV you can buy? An updated ranking from Consumer Reports says it's the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek. Why is it the best, and which model should you steer clear of?

Do you want a subcompact SUV with the quietest cabin? It's a rhetorical question because who doesn't? An updated Consumer Reports (by subscription) ranking says that one model is still the best; it's the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek that you should put on your shopping list. Before I explain why, here's why the report from Consumer Reports can be trusted.

When you test drive a car, it's nearly impossible to determine whether it has any deal-breaking flaws or is quiet or noisy. You discover if it does once you've driven it for a few thousand miles. Then it's too late. You are stuck with it for at least a few years.

Professional automotive journalists' reviews are a good resource, but they can't determine significant flaws after only having the car for a few days. There are better options for checking out a vehicle. You have to own it. That's where Consumer Reports is a valuable resource.

Consumer Reports Buys The Vehicles They Test

Consumer Reports says, "Our auto experts drive each car, SUV, and truck for a lot of miles—2,000, in fact—before we even begin to test it. This allows us to live with and use the cars in everyday situations, just like you do."

I will listen to someone who has 2,000 miles behind the wheel of the vehicle I'm researching over a journalist who's driven it for only 200 to 300 hundred miles, especially regarding deal-breaking flaws. 

You May Regret Buying A Car

CR says, "Through this process, we identify categories where deal-breaking flaws can make a buyer regret a purchase: how the controls work, visibility, rear-seat comfort, and cabin noise. 

Most subcompact SUV buyers think that driving a vehicle with a noisy cabin can be a big deal. Generally, the smaller the car, the more noisy it is. Automakers put less emphasis on sound-deadening materials to save weight and improve fuel mileage. 

Here is why Consumer Reports says the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek is ranked number one in the subcompact SUV category for having a serene cabin.

  • Price Range:  $25,195 - $32,195
  • CR MPG:  Overall 29 / City 20 / Hwy 41 mpg (better than EPA's estimated mpg)
  • Consumer Reports says the Crosstrek is #1 of 13  Subcompact SUVs across all categories

Why does CR say the Crosstrek is the best subcompact SUV?

"One downside of most subcompact SUVs is that they aren't particularly quiet. The Crosstrek is the best of this somewhat noisy segment. The most intrusive source of noise inside the Crosstrek is undoubtedly the engine, which gets raucous when pressed into hard service." 

"Unlike some powertrains, this engine note doesn't sound polished or refined. And because the engine is notably down on power, drivers may find that they have to dig deep into the throttle often, which brings more noise calamity into the cabin. Wind noise is elevated at highway speeds, which can make long trips tedious." 

I agree with Consumer Reports' overall assessment of the Crosstrek's quiet cabin because I own one, but there's more shoppers should know before buying a small SUV.

Subaru says engineers focused on reducing sounds within particular frequency ranges, resulting in a quieter and more comfortable cabin. 

Armen Hareyan, Torque News Editor, said in his Crosstrek analysis, "The 2024 Crosstrek provides a quieter and more comfortable cabin with enhanced sound insulation and new materials used in the construction of the seats. This improvement offers all passengers a more peaceful and pleasant driving experience." 

The Subaru Global Platform (SGP) for the 2024 Crosstrek was also significantly improved, affecting its cabin quietness.

I've written a lot about Subaru's new Global Platform. You can read my detailed report here

Subaru says, "The SGP has been enhanced with 10-percent higher torsional rigidity. A full inner frame construction with stronger welding techniques and additional structural adhesive (from 26.2 feet to 88.5 feet) contributes to better body rigidity and less weight. These updates deliver an improved dynamic performance, smoother ride, and quieter cabin." 

Road & Track, who gave a new Crosstrek review, says, " The feedback from the road was never fatiguing or sharp. Increased sound-deadening around the roof also plays a role in improving overall comfort from behind the wheel, bringing a genuinely quiet ride for the segment. Wind noise from the mirrors is the only harsh tone that really stands out."

Consumer Reports says there is only one other subcompact SUV they would say to put on your list. 

CR's other good choice in the subcompact SUV category is the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.

Which new subcompact SUV should you avoid? 

Consumer Reports says the Kia Seltos is one you should avoid. Here's why.

CR says, "The Seltos stands out as a loud car, even within a class of vehicles that aren't known for being quiet. The engine gives off a coarse hum and sounds like it's especially taxed when the driver looks for more acceleration. Ambient noise infiltrates the cabin with noticeable road noise on coarse backroads and wind noise prevailing at highway speeds."

The Crosstrek is also the best vehicle for active customers who use their subcompact SUV to escape the noisy city. It features Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, X-Mode, and dual-function X-Mode on some trim levels for all-terrain performance. 

Check out the rugged 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness trim level here

There you have it. The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek takes the title for the quietest cabin among all subcompact SUVs. You don't have to escape the city and get onto a mountain trail to experience calm and peace.  


We want to know your thoughts on the new Subaru Crosstrek. Please click the red Add New Comment link below to let us know.

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

Photo credit: Subaru


Gaston Santander (not verified)    May 22, 2024 - 11:19PM

Is the Crosstreck 2024 only quieter or applies to other 2 or 3 yrs. Old ones?
Cannot afford a new one. Thanks!

Jeff (not verified)    May 23, 2024 - 12:29AM

I bet the Mitsubushi Outlander Sport has the selfish beat for noise. Very old design with little sound insulation... if any.

Gisele Fontaine (not verified)    May 23, 2024 - 3:07PM

I purchased a new Crosstreck in 2013 based on primarily on your findings along with my own research talking with Subaru owners. This was to be my retirement vehicle as I expected to drive and drive it, 500,000km+.
Low and behold, it needed regular oil additions half-way between oil changes. The dealership, Subaru Canada refused to acknowledge any problems surprise!!!!
I ended up losing a big chunk of money, traded it for a Mazda CX3 with that dealership knowing the Crosstreck's problem. I am now on my 2nd Mazda having upgraded to a CX30. While I really loved my Crosstreck, being repeatedly told that it is normal for a new vehicle to be burning oil and not wanting to deal with me for a trade in for a new Crosstreck was very very frustrating. Goodbye Subaru, you lost a potential long term customer who did not and still does not recommend your vehicles based on your after sale customer service. Not all drivers are idiots.

Ronald (not verified)    May 23, 2024 - 7:31PM

I purchased a new 2024 Subaru Crosstrek a few months ago, and I love it. Easy to drive and comfortable, but feels tough enough to handle the backroads also.

My first Subaru and I’m really impressed with it

Ali (not verified)    May 23, 2024 - 9:08PM

Just bought 2024 crosstrek Sport I can't stop loving it .
Looks awesome , comfortable @ powerful enough plus capable off road .
Go subaru 👏👏👏

Stephen Greer (not verified)    May 23, 2024 - 10:34PM

I have a 2024 Crosstreck with 4800 miles. So far I love the great ride to work and wonderful drive home since I live in the Olympic Mountains. The AWD is a must for me and it is a nice quiet ride.

VTRex (not verified)    May 26, 2024 - 8:27AM

Իn April we went shopping for a new car to replace our 2013 Subaru. Trust me when I tell you, the Subaru Crosstrek was FAR from the quietest. That honor (maybe the only honor) goes to the Buick Encore GX. Best all-around extremely capable off the beaten path and QUIET ride goes to the CX30. The Subaru CVT is an antiquated and LOUD piece of junk. Right up there with the Hyundai Kona ( a car that is btw QUIETER) than the Crosstrek). THE CX30 uses a traditional but smooth shifting and quiet running 6-speed transmission. The infotainment system in the Subaru is slow to respond and enormously distracting to use. Wanna change the volume on your poorly designed Harmon Kardon sound system? Hope you're on the right screen! Want to change the heat? Find it on the same screen that has 10 other things going on. Should we talk about passing power? Nail the gas in the Subaru and hold your ears! Nail the gas in the CX30 and HOLD ON! The Mazda will blow the doors off the Subaru (or Lexus or Hyundai or Toyota or anything else in this class). The writer most likely bought a CrossTrek and is just looking for validation of his choice. But THEY're way off base!