Sounds Levels Compared – Tesla Model 3, Model X, Honda Civic


How much sound does the Tesla Model 3 generate compared to its largest sibling and an ICE compact car?

Now You Know compares the Tesla Model 3 Long Range against a 2016 Honda Civic and a Model X P90D to get a better idea of how much road “noise” each produces. In order to get the information, they took sound levels inside each car while driving. This way, they can provide an accurate idea of the measurement in real-world conditions.

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Each vehicle was tested at 30 mph on back roads, 55 mph on the highway, and 75 mph on the highway. They just use a simple decibel meter to get the numbers. In order to get fair, “scientific” results, they took several five-second sound samples during each test and then averaged the data. This way, it accounts for different stretches of road, varying external noise, wind, traffic, etc. It’s also important to note that the AC is off in all the tests.

On backroads, the Model 3 and Civic were equal, at 59.76 dB, while the Model X was a touch quieter, at 56.66 dB. On the highway, during the lower speed test, the Civic was the loudest, followed closely by the Model 3. The Model X was significantly quieter. Although all the cars were obviously louder on the highway at the higher speed, the results mirrored that of the previous highway test.

Video Description Now You Know on YouTube:

Welcome back for another episode of Now You Know! How loud is the Model 3??? We compared the sound levels of the Model 3 vs the Model X and a Honda Civic. See which car was the loudest and which was the quietest, next on Now You Know!

Keep the conversation going on our Forum. Start a new thread about this article and make your point heard.


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2. Tesla Model 3
Range: 310 miles; 136/123 mpg-e. Still maintaining a long waiting list as production ramps up slowly, the new compact Tesla Model 3 sedan is a smaller and cheaper, but no less stylish, alternative, to the fledgling automaker’s popular Model S. This estimate is for a Model 3 with the “optional” (at $9,000) long-range battery, which is as of this writing still the only configuration available. The standard battery, which is expected to become available later in 2018, is estimated to run for 220 miles on a charge. Tesla Model 3 charge port (U.S.) Tesla Model 3 front seats Tesla Model 3 at Atascadero, CA Supercharging station (via Mark F!) Tesla Model 3 Tesla Model 3 The Tesla Model 3 is not hiding anymore! Tesla Model 3 (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs) Tesla Model 3 Inside the Tesla Model 3 Tesla Model 3 rear seats Tesla Model 3 Road Trip arrives in Tallahassee Tesla Model 3 charges in Tallahassee, trunk open.

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38 Comments on "Sounds Levels Compared – Tesla Model 3, Model X, Honda Civic"

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3 dB doubles the volume. On a logarithmic scale such a “small” difference is pretty huge.

They should have compared vs. a Honda Clarity PHEV.

… or an EX trim civic, which has more sound deadening than the LX

/pretty sure that’s an LX civic (the cheapest version) they used for the compo.
//$50,000 cars should be quieter than $20,000 cars.

An increase of 3dB doubles the sound intensity but a 10dB increase is required before a sound is perceived to be twice as loud.

Yes, the dB scale is exponential. I’m a musician and trained audio engineer, so I won’t attempt to bore people with the specifics, but the dB scale works in 10s and squares, sort of… At least to make it easier to understand. A few decibels more means lots more to the ears for sure!

Yes, however the statements made are not very relevant without the specifics.
Do “bore” us, please! 🙂

It’s scaled such that every shift of 10 decibals is actually a factor of 10 in sound rather than ‘add 10’. So 80 is 10 times 90. 90 is 10 times 80, etc so that if you shift 50 decibals you shift a factor of 10^5 in magnitude. i.e. a ridiculous amount. But it is crucial to understand that a shift of 10 is a factor of 10 but a shift of 2 is not a factor of two. It’s logarithmic/exponential (depending on your taste in math). You ‘add the powers’. So if a certain sound is X magnitude but is D decibals then a sound of D+20 decibals is X*10^2 magnitude. 30 decibals higher? X*10^3. So 2 decibals is 2/10 of a factor of 10 higher or 0.2 so a shift in 2 decibals is X*10^1.02 for the new magnitude.

pH and Richter scale are effectively the same thing.

On a linear scale it would be huge. But since our brain interprets sounds on a logarithmic scale, 3 dB more doesn’t sound a lot louder.

If that weren’t the case, we would have a hard time hearing sound amplitudes from 0 to over 100dB.

Did they measure the sound during acceleration? That’s when ICE vehicles are the loudest and most annoying, whereas the electric is the same quiet level it has during cruising.

Not surprising. The Model 3 needs NVH and quality enhancements. I expect that to happen once production hell is dealt with. The Model 3 will be a much more refined offering in 3-4 years. Hopefully with scale we’ll benefit from some economies.

My Model S is far louder on the highway than my BMW 5 series. That is one area that definitely needs improvement.

Very true, indeed. But, what they don’t talk about here is that the hum of gas engine masks much more sound than the silent operation of the EV. So, you will always hear more cabin noise, road noise, and outside sounds in an EV. Unless, of course, it’s insulated like crazy, which is the answer but not necessarily cost-effective to add exorbitant amounts of sound insulation beyond what is necessary and expected.

Tire/road surface noise at highway speed is by far the loudest source of noise I hear in most vehicles regardless of drivetrain. Sound insulation, suspension and tires determine how quiet things are on the highway.

Tires make a huge difference, especially in a mechanically silent car. Can’t speak to sound insulation differences.

The new 5 series is a seriously quiet car. They’re also tanks now that they’re built off the 7 series platform.

Especially early Model S’s could benefit from some more sound deadening but I suspect it also has to do with the glass

It looks like they tested the model 3 with the 19 inch wheels and tires? Tires can make a huge difference in noise levels which is yet another reason I am not a fan of the current fashion statement of huge low profile tires on cars.

The major tire makers will within the next two years start making available EV centric tires that are designed to lower rolling resistance and dampen road noise… this will help further cut down on cabin noise. Hopefully as those advanced EV tires become available they will become the standard stock tires for Tesla.

The video mentioned that they took the noise readings with the AC turned off; something I noticed with our Model 3 compared to our Model S is that the AC of the Model 3 is very quiet compared to Model S or any other car. Tesla should make the advanced Model 3 AC system the standard for all it’s EV models because by comparison the older system is functionally, aesthetically, and noise-level antiquated… similar to standard cars.

Currently the quitest tires are not the low rolling resistance models.

@Nate said: “Currently the quitest tires are not the low rolling resistance models.”

New generation of EV tires soon hitting market that provides both low rolling resistance and low road noise transmission… example:

Goodyear EfficientGrip Tire for Electric Cars:

So something else is quieter? I temporarily replaced one of my stock Volt tires with a common all season radial and was shocked at the noise difference. Sucked. So if you change your stock EV tires, be warned.

Another Euro point of view

How much does such Honda Civic cost in the US ? I mean why comparing it to that car ?

I think they used it just as a well known car to compare too – otherwise your right. You could easily buy two well equipped Civics for the price of a Model 3.

The Honda Civic and the Honda Accord are among the top best-selling cars (not light trucks) in the USA. They are frequently used as the “benchmark” car in comparisons of all sorts of things.

Interesting! These measurements were taken using the dB “A” weighting for the various octave bands, which generally matches the overall averaged perceived frequency response of the human ear. It would be interesting to see what the dB is for each model at each octave band – is one model louder at the lower regions (rumble – likely to be road/tire noise) or at higher bands (whistling – likely to be wind noise – or extremely high-pitched humming – motor/inverter electrical whine).

I hate to sound uncharitable but the now you know guys aren’t really car people and they’re not sound engineers,. They’re just a couple Tesla fans. So I wouldn’t make too much of this data

Exactly, and they did not have fixed equipment to document the data… Its like testing engine horsepower, by how much the car pushes you back in the seat.

I don’t understand. What’s so hard about measuring decibels? As an audiophile enthusiast, I own and can use a sound pressure meter. Hold it up near your ear, and it will give you an accurate measurement of how loud (in decibels) the sound is that your ears hear.

You might “ding” them for not using standard wheels and tires on the Model 3, but there’s nothing wrong with their instrumentation. Their methodology seems pretty sound too, what with sampling the decibel level under a variety of conditions and averaging the results.

Should have compared cars of equal value to the Model 3, like Audi A4… Or I would have even been happy with a loaded Camry…

“On backroads, the Model 3 and Civic were equal, at 59.76 dB,”

Seriously? So much for the “luxury” claim…

Civics don’t claim to be luxury cars.

I blame the removal of the “Flufferbot”…….

I wonder how much difference between civic and m3 was tire noise. Bigger tires and heavier car would be louder

How about comparing it to other 35K family sedans… Audi, Toyota, Honda, Lexus, etc… Sheet even Chevy or Buick

I’d like to see a comparison with the e-Golf, which I’m quite happy with in terms of road noise. It’s not perfect, but quiet enough that I’m happy with it.

A good presentation to make it approachable by most. But there is more than just dB which measures amplitude. Also was the measurement peak or bandwidth average? Frequencies and timbre greatly affect the perception of “loud.” A ICE may not be loud at cruising, but the cyclic nature and existence in a certain frequency range of it is obtrusive even though its measured dB shows that it is the same as wind noise.

Dude: can’t you just give us a table of the decibels for the 3 vehicles at the 3 speeds?

Would have liked a competitor comparison, like the Bolt. Stock tires.