Sounding Off on Our 2013 Honda Civic's Stereo

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Logic says a cheap car should have a cheap stereo. Cars.com's 2013 Honda Civic in base LX trim isn't exactly inexpensive at $19,775, including an automatic transmission and destination charge, but the stereo has a laundry list of features most wouldn't expect at its price.

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In the six-plus months we've owned the Civic, we've hooked up numerous phones and music players to the standard USB port and streaming Bluetooth. Our editors also have spent hours commuting, where the right stereo can make a difference between starting the day right or wrong. The Civic's stereo was a huge hit when first purchased, but what about 12,000 miles later?

The 2013 Civic's bevy of entertainment features remains competitive and ahead of the curve even as 2014 competitors roll out with new changes and redesigns.

"It really provides a lot of different ways to bring mobile media into the car," says Cars.com editor Mike Hanley.

All Civics come with a standard USB input for music players and USB flash drives, Bluetooth streaming audio, Pandora integration (iPhone only) and an MP3 jack as well as a CD player and AM/FM radio. An intelligent Multi-Information Display shows each source's artist, song and album information, as well as a music player's music library.

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Despite the long list of features, Cars.com editor Joe Bruzek notes there's one feature he'd like to see added. "One omission I'd like to see added is satellite radio," he says. "Satellite radio offers a much-appreciated variety of talk radio, music and sports listening entertainment when commuting up to three hours a day."

Satellite radio is reserved for the navigation-equipped Civic EX and EX-L only — it's not even an option on lower trim levels or EX models without navigation. The exclusion isn't the norm for the segment; volume sellers like the Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra include satellite radio as standard.

Even more important than having a massive amount of connectivity features is having features that work well, which the Civic's do seamlessly for navigating a music collection through the i-MID display.

"From a usability standpoint it also rates well," Hanley says. "I like that the volume knob also doubles as a tuner for the radio when you press it. Easy to use."

The volume knob that serves as a tuning knob didn't win everyone over, however, as one editor was annoyed by the shared function.

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So far, the Civic's stereo has delivered a great amount of features for the money. Sound quality is more difficult to evaluate because of its subjective nature. Even so, there isn't much praise for how well the Civic's base stereo sounds. One editor claims to be so offended he only listens to spoken audio instead of music, while others are lukewarm on the stereo's audio output, which is one of the only areas the Civic's stereo falls flat. 

Related
What We Miss in Our 2013 Honda Civic LX
2013 Honda Civic Wallpaper, Not Just for Smartphones
We Bought a 2013 Honda Civic, And It Wasn't Easy

Comments 

WTF

Sound quality is the most important aspect to me so "for that I'm out".

Steve

The stereo in my 2013 Civic sounds great to me. Better than more expensive cars I've owned. But I am not an audiophile so I probably couldn't tell the difference between Bose and Sony.

I do have couple complaints tho. I wish there was an off button on the steering wheel because the one on the head unit is very tiny and hard to find in an emergency.

Another complaint is that when I start the car and turn up the volume really high the i-Mid crashes and goes blank for about 30 sec before working. It could just be a software issue, I guess.

Mike S

It's nice to see a stereo that doesn't have a touchscreen for touchscreen's sake. I'm so sick of seeing touchscreen infotainment systems that approach 10% of the whole car's price, especially when it'll be outdated long before the rest of the car is.

And gone are the days when you could just order an easy aftermarket replacement for a standard-sized modular head unit, so it's not so convenient for the next technology that comes along.

For comparative purposes, the average car on the road is 11+ years old... and the very first iPod is about to turn 12 yrs old.

I'm typically a used-car buyer, and most of what's in new cars these days is going to be a big liability rouhgly 3 years down the line.

At least this standard Civic stereo shouldn't be much of an annoyance as time goes on. I hope more car companies can at least offer a low-cost stereo with easy user-inputs.

skippydog

No Sat radio is a no go for me. I would never buy a car without one unless I planned on replacing the head unit. Honda what were you thinking?

JasonR

XM Satellite Radio is available as a dealer-installed option on all trim levels except the LX.

Mike S

I much prefer dealer-installed options for stuff like satellite radio. Our Subaru was the same way, it was pre-wired for Satellite, but you didn't have to buy it if you didn't want it.

Personally, I'd never use
Satellite Radio, mainly because I have a smartphone with an unlimited data plan. I understand Sat radio is great for a lot of people, but it just isn't something I'd want to pay for, either in hardware or subscription costs.

Zerf

I personally would find it annoying that the buttons are not near the display. Like WTF audio quality is one the most important attributes to me. For some to note, the cars come with free trial on the satellite radio if you don't want it just don't renew it, nice that it is included. I have unlimited data and I thought I would not use satellite but it easy to use, well integrated and reliable.

Kev

No Android for the Pandora on the Civic? I got the 2013 Accord LX and my Samsung Note 2 can connect to it.

Stan

I've found the speed-sensitve automatic volume cotrol to be useful for speech, but like compression, ruins music. It's easy to turn off but buried at the end of the sound settings. The LX lacks the dash-mounted tweeters of the EX models, so highs and imaging suffers. No problems using Pandora with my Nexus 5 smartphone.

Dustin

Does anyone know if it has RCA jacks in the back of the radio to hook up an amplifier for subs?

Maria

I have the Samsung Galaxy and my 2013 civic connects to Pandora and also reads text messages on this vehicle

Sara

1st thing I mentioned to my car salesman when discussing what I wanted in my new car was xm radio. It wasn't until I signed papers and got the keys when I realized...no xm radio.

I'm in my car everyday as a sales rep and travel 500-800 miles a week. Radio options are a must when your driving as much as I do.

Why the hell did Honda not provide xm radio in a 2014 Honda Civic EX?!

-disappointed

If you connect your phone through bluetooth, usb, or aux cable, and have an equalizer on your phone, you can make this system beat pretty hard, and scream with high pitches. Sounds like I have a 10' sub in the trunk.

RSJ

I have the 2013 Civic EX sedan and the stereo sounds pretty good for a compact car. The EX has 6 speakers and it does make a difference. The LX model they review in this article only has 4 speakers. Playing music through the USB port or Bluetooth produces the best sound in my opinion.

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