Why Do Some New Cars Still Have CD Players?

Once upon a time, buying a new car came with the option of either a CD player or a sunroof, among other accessories. But that was a long time ago, and almost every new car comes with a moonroof – most of them panoramic in nature – and smartphone integration software like Apple Carplay or Android Auto. However, some new cars are still equipped with CD players, but why?

“The death of the CD player started about a decade ago”

Portrait of a driver with an Apple iPhone 5 and Pioneer head unit fitted in a Subaru BRZ.
Portrait of a driver with an Apple iPhone 5 and Pioneer head unit fitted in a Subaru BRZ. | (Photo by Will Ireland/MacFormat Magazine/Future via Getty Images)

If you haven’t purchased a new in the past 10 years, then you might not be aware that CD players have met their gradual demise. With the advent and widespread use of newer technologies like Bluetooth, satellite radio, and smartphone integration, most drivers – from baby boomers to millennials – have stopped using CDs. According to Autoweek, “the death of the CD player started about a decade ago.”

Since then, some automakers have held on to the nostalgic thoughts of passengers sliding those compact metallic discs into their vehicle’s dashboards and kept the CD players. So far, Lexus is by far the most faithful as every one of its models comes equipped with one to this day.

Why some automakers still use CD players

2018 Lexus GX with a CD player
2018 Lexus GX with a CD player | Lexus

Although the way that we listen to music has changed quickly over the past decade, it’s taken the automotive world a little more time to catch on, reports Forbes. We can’t blame the automakers, considering they have to wait until mid-cycle refreshes and redesigns to figure out a new layout for the cars. In that case, we can’t blame them if the CD player is the last item on their minds.

Another reason that CD players still exist in some cars is demographics. For example. Lexus likely knows that its buyer demographic is mainly made up of an older generation that still totes around CDs. It’s not a bad idea, considering there are still plenty of drivers that would rather enjoy listening to their tried-and-true Celine Dion album over fumbling with their phones or flipping through satellite radio stations. Plus, have you heard the difference in sound quality from a CD compared to satellite radio? The difference is “night and day.”

Can a CD player be added to a newer car?

 Devices that transmit sound from portable CD player to car radio
Devices that transmit sound from portable CD player to car radio | TORONTO STAR/Wikimedia Commons

Yes, if you want to have an aftermarket radio installed in your new car. Otherwise, there are external CD players in the market that can connect to any new car via a USB port. Just be aware that some can cost over $200, which may or may not be worth it for some.

If you’re the type of driver that likes CDs, but you don’t want to buy a CD player, then you can always convert your CD songs to MP3s and stick them on a USB drive. The sound quality might not be the same, but you’ll at least be able to control your own music.

And if that doesn’t work for you, then you may have to look for a car with a CD player. However, we can’t imagine that the lack of one will be a deal-breaker for anyone buying a new car, no matter how good that Celine Dion album was.

RELATED: CD Players and Other Popular Features Your Next Car Won’t Have