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