Subaru SiriusXM Censorship Uncensored - Think of the Children, Alright?

Kamil Kaluski
by Kamil Kaluski
subaru siriusxm censorship uncensored think of the children alright

An article entitled “ Subaru to SiriusXM Subscribers: Stop Listening to Comedy” from a website called has been making the rounds on social media lately. It talks about an oddity with Subaru-vehicle satellite radios, where they sometimes default to Channel 001, the preview channel, upon starting the car, even when the subscription is paid up.

That may sound like simple software glitch — but it isn’t. It’s actually a Subaru-specific “feature”!

This is how it works: you get to your destination while listening to one of the SiriusXM channels marked with “xL,” an explicit language tag. It could be any one of the comedy, music, or talk channels marked as such, as can seen here on the channel guide. You turn off your Subaru and go about your business. Upon your return to the car, the radio switches to the preview channel, as if your subscription has just run out.

Having recently driven a 2016 Subaru Crosstrek, a great little car, I can tell you firsthand that it’s annoying and can be taken as a glitch. It turns out, however, that Subaru does this on purpose. The reason behind it is that a new driver or passengers can be offended by the content provided by those uncensored channels. Well, shit.

The owner of the Outback in the Automotive IT News article, “a 35-year broadcast journalism veteran,” is deeply upset by this feature. He says that every time he starts his car he has to scroll through his 36 presets, waaahhh, just to find the station he was listening to. The article even goes as far as using the C-word. Censorship!

I’ve been a Howard Stern fan for years. During my last semester in college, when Howard was still at K-Rock, I was offered an internship at the show on which, unfortunately, I had to pass due to workload and scheduling. I turned my wife into a huge fan. Channel 100 is the first preset in all my radios. I have Artie Lange’s cell phone number programmed into my phone and an invitation to his show. I often use references from the show when talking to my friends who are also fans. I am by no means a “Super Fan” but I know more than Bobo does and I just love the show.

At the same time, I’m a father of an eight-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy. One day, when my daughter was two years old, she asked why we were not listening to Howard while driving. Since then, we only listen to channel 100 when we are driving by ourselves or when the kids are asleep. I make sure that every time I park the car for the night to leave the radio on some other station.

That doesn’t always happen, however. Many times I throw the kids into their seats, start the ignition to warm up or cool down the car, and go back to fasten their seat belts or throw something into the trunk. Right at that time, I often hear Howard’s or Robin’s voice and have to scramble back to the radio or steering wheel controls to quickly change the channels, because will somebody please think of the children!?

Well, Subaru has. I don’t have an issue with this personally. People who often drive with coworkers, clients, and sensitive types shouldn’t have an issue with it, either. The majority of people who drive alone will get annoyed at this, as the feature is not defeatable — but how hard is really to program your presets and press a button to get back your favorite profanity filled station?

Cars have become our own little sanctuaries. When we’re driving alone we sing along with the radio, talk to ourselves, yell at bicyclists, other drivers, and sometimes our own lives. A car is a place we spend a lot of time, but it is not our home or our office. No one is there with us, no one can hear us, and too often we think that no one can see us picking our noses. It is a place where we can listen to whatever we want, even if it’s something some people would never admit to, such as raunchy comedy, sex shows, country music or hardcore rap.

Subaru, in this case, is helping you keep your questionable listening choices to yourself.

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2 of 41 comments
  • 228 228 on Jul 02, 2016

    When media system in Tesla doesn't recognize particular track (it usually can't find anything for audiobooks) it shows pretty random album art, sometimes pretty disturbing like from some metal albums. It didn't fetch art from the MP3 metadata and instead always went online to get the image. I had to switch the panel away from the media when kids were in the car quite a few times. Asked Tesla if there is an option to turn off album art fetching or display, no reply.

  • GARainman GARainman on Jul 31, 2016

    This actually just started on my car. I have a 2017 Subie STI and for some reason - it just started doing this last week. I figured I'd hit some magic button somewhere that made it start doing this. I can tell you this: Not everyone has kids. Not everyone cringes when some comedian on Raw Dog says the F word. I don't have any kids and I am a grown up who questionable language doesn't even register with. What DOES register with me is when some nameless, faceless moron decides FOR ME what I should and should not be able to do with my car. To be honest - I want this dipstick outed and have him answer why he thinks his opinion matters more than ALL of the owners out there? We should at least KNOW who this dips**t is...but something tells me he'll hide in the shadows like the little coward he is. This just smacks of massive amounts of arrogance. Yeah, this is a minor annoyance. I get it. I live in the real world where I understand all I had to do is hit a few buttons to get my station back. However, this attitude of people today that their opinion on what you should and should not be able to do overrides yours - that just sets me off. The idea that this little turd thinks he has the right to change what you're listening to....just makes me very angry.

  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.
  • Chris P Bacon I've always liked the looks of the Clubman, especially the original model. But like a few others here, I've had the Countryman as a rental, and for the price point, I couldn't see spending my own money on one. Maybe with a stick it would be a little more fun, but that 3 cylinder engine just couldn't provide the kick I expected.
  • EBFlex Recall number 13 for the 2020 Explorer and the 2020 MKExplorer.
  • CEastwood Every time something like this is mentioned it almost never happens because the auto maker is afraid of it taking sales away from an existing model - the Tacoma in this instance . It's why VW never brought the Scirrocco and Polo stateside fearful of losing Golf sales .
  • Bca65698966 V6 Accord owner here. The VTEC crossover is definitely a thing, especially after I got a performance tune for the car. The loss of VTEC will probably result in a slower vehicle overall for one reason: power under the curve. While the peak horsepower may remain the same, the amount of horsepower and torque up to that peak may be less overall. The beauty of variable cam lift is not only the ability to gain more power at upper rpm’s on the “big cam”, but the ability to gain torque down low on the “small cam”. Low rpm torque gets the vehicle moving and then big horsepower at upper rpm’s gains speed. Having only one cam profile is now introducing a compromise versus the VTEC setup. I guess it’s possible that with direct injection they are able to keep the low rpm torque there (I’ve read that DI helps with low rpm torque) but I’m skeptical it will match a well tuned variable lift setup.