Top 5 most comfortable cars for "Balik Kampung" journeys

Shaun · Jul 30, 2020 03:58 PM

There’s a term we use to convey refinement of a car – NVH, which stands for Noise, Vibration, Harshness. The lower the NVH, the more refined and comfortable it is. 

NVH is, more often than not, judged based on subjective feeling. In other words, we feel the car through our bums and ears. Though in the aspect of noise, we do measure it using a sound level meter to maintain a level of objectivity.

Before we begin, we’d like to rule out ultra-luxurious cars like the Rolls-Royce Phantom or the Mercedes-Maybach S650. Instead, we’ll look at cars that are more obtainable for the average joe.

With that out of the way, here are top 5 most comfortable cars currently on sale in Malaysia.

Proton X70

On top of the well-built interior, the Proton X70 also has the quietest cabin in its class. At 110 km/h, the sound level meter recorded an average of 67 dB. In comparison, the Honda CR-V averaged 70 dB over the same stretch of road.

The ride quality is excellent, striking a good balance between comfort and body control. Even in the locally assembled (CKD) model, pliancy was not sacrificed in order to reduce body roll. The seats are comfortable as well and provides adequate lumbar support.

Ford Ranger

Gone are the days where pick-up trucks are strictly used as a workhorse. Modern pick-ups fare pretty well as a lifestyle vehicle and the Ford Ranger would be the prime example.

The interior is perhaps the most upmarket compared to all its rivals, especially with the leather-wrapped dashboard. More impressively, it’s extremely quiet on the move.

On certain stretches on MEX highway whilst travelling at 110 km/h, the Ford Ranger averaged 63 dB, but this is a bit of an outlier as the road surface was freshly paved and traffic was minimal.

Given the body on frame layout, there is the inevitable judder going over pothole. But it’s well contained and the suspension is well damped for urban use. The rear seats are also relatively comfortable, with a 12-degree recline angle.

Toyota Camry

Actually, the Toyota Corolla Altis was the initial choice for this. But the Corolla didn’t fair well in the N part of NVH as tyre and wind noise do become rather intrusive at highway speeds.

The Toyota Camry on the other hand, is just as comfortable and it’s quieter. At 110 km/h over the same road as tested in the Proton X70, noise level averaged a similar 67 dB.

As with all TNGA-based Toyotas, there’s a sense of fluidity in the way the Camry rides and handles, striking a fine balance between comfort and handling.

BMW 5 Series

In the past, BMWs were known to be on the sportier side of things, which meant ride comfort was sacrificed to a degree. But now things have changed, BMW appears to have mastered the art of suspension tuning.

The G30 BMW 5 Series is a fine example of suspension mastery as it has the “magic carpet” ride quality, particularly if you opt for the entry level 520i with smaller set of wheels.

The M Sport models with sportier suspension and larger wheels can introduce minor disturbances over rough surfaces, but it’s never bothersome.

Sound insulation is superb. Wind, tyre, and powertrain noises are muted at all speeds. From the inside, it feels shut out from the outside world and the passengers are cocooned in world of their own. 

However, we have yet to obtain the noise level data for the G30 5 Series. Subjectively, it’s a tad quieter than even the X70 and Camry.

Lexus ES 250

Oh dear, we seem to have a duplicate in this list. Seriously though, instead of perceiving the Lexus ES as an upmarket Toyota Camry, how about a mini Lexus LS instead?

The interior feels as plush as a Lexus should, with premium materials and craftsmanship. There’s plenty of space in the rear, class-leading even.

And in terms of ride comfort, it’s even better than the BMW 5 Series despite running on passive suspension set up.

As for noise level, the Lexus ES averaged 65 dB at 110 km/h. Making it one of the quietest cars we’ve tested so far. Windows are double-glazed all round so exterior noises are impressively muted.

Yes, Adrian, we know it's really comfortable.

All you’re able hear is a faint rumble of tyre noise, but even then it’s because your ears are always looking for noises to pick up on.

So there we have it, 5 of the most comfortable cars (more realistically obtainable ones, at least) currently on sale in Malaysia.