Timothy Moore

Has Subaru’s SiriusXM ‘Censorship’ Crossed a Line?

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Family-friendly radio feature on Outback and Legacy has some owners feeling controlled

2016 Subaru Outback - siriusxm radio

Subaru Outback (pictured) and Legacy models include a feature for SiriusXM Satellite Radio that some drivers are not happy about

For 2015, Subaru added a family-friendly feature to its SirusXM satellite radio function for the Outback and the Legacy. Simply put, if you are listening to a station with risqué content and turn your car off with that station on, the next time you turn your car on, the radio will default to the SiriusXM preview station. That way, if you turn the car on with your kids in the backseat, they aren’t immediately greeted by the raunchy content you listen to when it’s just you and the open road.

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Parents who have some secret radio fetishes probably benefit from this feature without even realizing it, but some drivers without kids are finding this feature insulting, invasive, and totally unnecessary. One 2016 Outback driver in particular, Vince Patton, took his concerns to Automotive IT News, stating that channels such as Comedy Central, Laugh USA, and Comedy Greats were among the stations that automatically revert to the default preview station—and he’s not happy about it.

“Subaru has no business monitoring what I listen to and resetting my radio every time I turn off the car, when, in Subaru’s high and mighty opinion, I’m listening to something questionable,” remarked Patton.

subaru starlink siriusxm radio

Patton claims that Subaru’s system should not decide what type of content is questionable

And before you ask—no, you can’t turn this feature off, and that seems to be the sticking point for those who are angered by this. In Subaru’s defense, however, the brand is a family company, and overwhelmingly, the customers are drivers with children. Subaru spokesman Michael McHale touched on this in saying, “I can see the point where you might want to have an override, but in the absence of that our default setting is the right choice.”

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So does that mean we’ll see an override capability added in the next update to STARLINK? That much is not yet clear. What is clear is that most customers have not even noticed this function and that almost as many would probably appreciate it, given their driving habits. The small minority, however, makes a compelling case for at least the ability to turn this feature off. But will Subaru concede?


News Source: Automotive IT News

  • Timothy MooreManaging Editor

    Timothy Moore hails from Dayton, Ohio, and tries to bring that Midwestern flavor to his writing. (But as it turns out, no one really likes the Midwestern flavor.) He has been covering the auto industry for years, with several national auto shows under his belt, but he’s been writing about lots of other things (like dragons and Mickey Mouse and cows drowning in milk) since he was just a tot. Outside of the land of cars, Timothy enjoys watching The Office and consuming excessive amounts of peanut butter and beer, and is on the board of an up-and-coming Dayton theatre company called The Playground. And when he’s not on stage (or three jars into a peanut butter binge), Timothy spends time with his mischievous dog, Greyson. See more articles by Timothy.

  • Gkiter

    I’m not offended by this feature, I should precise I don’t use Sirius in my 2014 Outback, it is too expensive for what it is. But what would Subaru be better off doing instead of silly features like this is replacing the Sirius traffic, which is expensive and terrible, with Google traffic, which is free and works great or at least have the option to use it with the built-in GPS instead of Sirius.

  • Ken Bell

    Yeah, it is dumb you can’t disable the feature, but your station is literally one button press away if you have it preset. Complaining about this feature is equivalent to complaining about a sxm channel not playing what you want it to play. With this feature, nobody is monitoring what you listen to, it just defaults itself.

  • Justin Myers

    I wish they would put the channel names on the presets as well, instead of just the channel number. I don’t have those memorized…