I’m getting older and looking for a retirement car with a very comfortable ride. My 1999 Chrysler LHS is great, but I don’t know why. My dad used to say that it’s the weight. A car salesman recently said it’s a long wheelbase. Some websites have suggested the relation of center of gravity to wheelbase, or just the construction of the seats. Help! What makes for a very comfortable ride?
Good overall designed…there are lots of good cars out there with comfortable rides…many do have longer wheel base. Any other restrictions… price, economy etc. That would better define suggestions.
Wheels, tires and shocks are a big part of ride comfort. Stiff sports suspensions, 20" wheels and low-profile tires will amplify every road bump and irregularity into the passenger compartment. Lexus, Infiniti, Acura, BMW, Audi and MB sedans ride very quiet. I’ve found Yokohama AVS tires to be very quiet on my BMW. Go out and test drive a few to see what fits you best. Stick with the basic suspension and the smallest wheel size offered. Spend a little extra on good tires.
A quiet car also increases the comfort. Lexus and Buick are leaders in providing comfortable cars. They are quiet, absorb bumps well, have comfortable seating, and lots of creature comforts to ease the drive.
Buick specializes in comfortable cars for “mature” folks. I see many being driven by those and the golf course parking lot has plenty of them.
Buick concentrates on size (wheelbase), insulation, vibration and noise controls, etc. to give the best overall quiet package for the money. Some high end imports, such as the Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Azera, and Lexus have very quite and comfortable rides as well.
The soon to be discontinued Ford Crown Vistoria and the Mercury Grand Marquis are quiet vehicles as well.
You’ve touched on several factors; more mass (weight), longer wheelbase, and lower center of gravity all affect ride and handling. In addition there is the length of suspension travel (how much up and down bouncing the suspension allows), the stiffness (or softness) of the springs, the internal pressure and valving of the struts (or shock absorbers), the tires, and … more.
Manufactures have to find a balance between ride softness (which some folks like and others find to be too “floaty”) and handling. Softer riding cars genearlly roll a lot in corners and don’t to well in high speed handling tests. Tightly sprung cars do great at handling but you might feel every bump in the road. In one car you’ll hardly feel it as you go over a railroad crossing and in another you could feel your teeth rattle.
If you want a softer ride you will have to give up some cornering and handling to get it. Buick tends to go soft, while BMW tends to go hard and tight. Some driver’s find the Buick to be comfortable and others find the BMW more comfortable with the better handling.
Generally larger cars yield softer rides, but you give up gas mileage. Going into retirement means you might not have all the money in the world to gas up a big car. Good riding cars with decent mpg are the mid size cars, Camry, Accord, Fusion, Malibu, etc. If you can afford the gas for a bigger car the Ford Crown Vic is perhaps as comfy as they get.
You are simply going to have to narrow down your choices and take test drives. Cadillac used to be the king of comfortable rides, but they have moved more toward the BMW tighter suspensioin set up. So, you can’t just assume a Caddy is a good ride, you need to test it for yourself.
More Mass…Longer Wheel base make it EASIER for manufacturers to design a more comfortable vehicle…but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done with a smaller vehicle. My wifes Lexus ES-350 is SUPERB…The hither end Lexuses are even better. And what you may think comfortable others may not. Personally I HATE the ride in a LHS. I HATE the Chrysler Float.