Why Don’t New Cars Have CD Players? These make’s do!


Ask a teen today what’s a Cd Player? And they look at you like you’re from another planet. Unfortunately for CDs technology has moved on. Let’s look at why most cars no longer offer CD players.

Technology has taken a huge leap forward in the last 15 years. CD Players are no longer in most cars because they are no longer required with the advent of the Smartphone.

I have to admit I’m very much a Radiohead. Even when I had a CD Player in my car, I only had a couple of CD options (Garth Brooks I think!). But music and audio are accessed very differently in the 21st century. Let’s see why the demise of the CD happened.

The Arrival of Digital Music

CDs burst onto the scene in 1982, the new digital age for audio that replaced the cassette. Cassettes had been with us since the 70s, and everyone had their favorite mixed tape in their glove box. But the sound from a CD was mind-blowing. Who could have speculated how popular they would become. And in our vehicles, we even had the option of loading multiple CDs at once.

And then the cell phone arrived. It’s hard to imagine a time without them. We rely on them for everything now, banking, texts, and of course listening to music.

In 2000, Chrysler introduced Bluetooth to their cars. It was to combat phone use whilst driving, which we all know how dangerous this is now.

Technology was at the forefront of everything at the turn of the century. All of a sudden people were talking about MP3 players and iPods, and all your favorite music is available on one device, not 100 disks strewn through your car. This was the beginning of the end for CDs and CD Players.

That’s not to say that car manufacturer suddenly got rid of CD players. In fact, many cars still had multi-function audio, including cassette players until 2010.

Manufacturers are very slow to follow fads or trends. The technology could be superseded by something else just as quickly and then their car designs are out of date before they even get going. It has taken a long time for CDs to be removed from cars and even in 2021, there are several that still offer the option of a CD player.

What’s on Offer?

New cars are all about technology. The infotainment screen is expected when buying a new car. This is again because of our phones. We can connect to our car with our phone and all our information is available at the touch of a screen. Subscriptions such as Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music are all part of our day-to-day lives. Not many people would even dream of going to a store to purchase music anymore and most stores don’t even sell CDs any longer. Best Buy ceased to sell them on July 1st, 2018.

Many cars now offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as standard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow you to sync your phone to your car’s infotainment, to allow safer driving. Once connected it can take calls, offer directions and most importantly stream your tunes. This shows the demand for access to our phones within our vehicles.

Some cars such as Tesla have gone one step further and offer Spotify and Netflix without the need for your phone. (The video option is only available in Park.)

With all this on offer, why would a car come equipped with a CD player? Well, surprisingly some models still have the option available.

What Cars Still Have CD Players?

If you are a die-hard CD listener all is not lost. There are some car brands that still offer a CD player. Why is this? Well, basically it’s to do with the demographic of their buyers. The most notable brand being Lexus. Lexus is a luxury car but that’s not the reason it has held onto the CD Player. The reason is there’s not too many twenty or even thirty-somethings buying a new Lexus. They have aimed at the older generation who in fairness is not quite as quick to adapt to new tech.

This is not by any means a blanket referral to any child of the 60s, Lexus also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but they understand their customer base and don’t want to scare them off. It’s called hedging your bets! And to be a pretty good movie.

CDs were invented by the Japanese in the early ’80s and so to me, it’s not surprising that many of the car models that still have CD players are Japanese cars.

Toyota’s Sienna, Highlander, Prius, and Camry all still sport a CD Player option. The Prius even has a 6 Disk CD Changer.

Honda, also Japanese, still offers CD Player on some but not all models. The Odyssey, Crosstour (discontinued in 2015 but still plenty available as a used vehicle), and the Acura, also discontinued, but they not only have CD Players but also MP3 players.

Nissan also offers CD Players on some models, but not necessarily all trims. The Frontier (King Cab and Crew Cab), the 370Z, and the Juke all offer CD and MP3.

How Do You Play Your CDs?

If you have looked at what’s on offer and your dream buy is not amongst those offering a CD Player, what are the options? What are you going to do with this mammoth collection of epic tunes you have on CD? 

There are a couple of options. The first is going to involve a trip to the store. Nearly all new cars now come with several USB ports. You can purchase an external CD drive with a USB connection. You can plug this into your car and still have the joy of listening to all your favorite CDs. However, external CD drives can be expensive so shop around. You’ll also have to sacrifice some center console space for your device and your CDs.

The other alternative, which is going to take time, is to convert your music to MP3 and transfer them to a USB flash drive (stick). However, the quality of sound will be greatly reduced. You have to weigh up the effort and the comparison to the actual CD and whether you would be better off with a music subscription.

In Conclusion

It’s hard for us to move with the times. You wake up and realize lots of techs are passing you by, but music is so widely available there’s no reason not to embrace the new way of doing things. We did, after all, move from cassette to CD, and survive.

If you are considering a used vehicle purchase, it’s always worth investing just a few dollars to check the VIN number against the vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and a ton of other uglies.

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John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty-five years, and I've worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Landrover, and Jaguar dealerships. My passion is cars. I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of car ownership, including buying advice, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

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