After almost 4500 miles on our 2011 Nissan Leaf, my wife has regularly complained about an "irritating whine" that constantly pesters her when she's riding in or driving the car.

With a longstanding hearing loss, I've never been able to confirm her concerns or understand her discomfort.

But now, Motor Trend has confirmed my wife’s complaints.

Comparing the 2011 models of the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and Toyota Prius, the magazine's engineers graphically recorded the noise profiles present during a full range of operation for each of these cars.

The graphs show the intensity of low-frequency noise--like the sounds you hear when starting up from a complete stop--in red. Higher-frequency background noises are shown in colors moving into light blue shades.

The Toyota Prius proved to be two to three times as noisy than the Chevy Volt. The 2011 Nissan Leaf had less high-energy sound, but it generated much more, and more constant, high-frequency sound than did the Volt.

The Leaf has a sound intensity profile almost as wide as the Prius hybrid, with its internal-combustion engine, but virtually all of that sound range is in the high frequencies (the ones I can't hear any longer!).

Only two of Motor Trend's drivers were bothered by the Nissan Leaf auditory levels. But drivers or riders with sensitive hearing, like my wife,  may find the 2011 Nissan Leaf an unpleasant place to spend time in over an extended trip.

Musicians, you have been warned.

[Motor Trend]