I Googled “Honda infotainment issues” the other day. Up popped 866,000 results in 0.45 seconds. Wow. Honda has a problem.
I learned this first-hand. I have suffered Honda’s infotainment woes during recent tests of the Honda Ridgeline pickup and the Acura ILX compact sedan.
For instance, every time I started up the ILX – an Acura version of the Honda Civic – I found it necessary to change sound system bands in order to wake up the sound system. Weird.
More broadly, I have found the newest Honda infotainment interfaces to be clunky – even in the latest Pilot SUV. That is, the screen layout is odd, the screen itself too small, and the logic of how things work seems, well, not exactly Newtonian. For example, on the home screen, FM and Sirius bands are side-by-each, while the AM band is on another screen. Why not bunch them together?
Honda has, in fact, been criticized over its troubling and troublesome infotainment systems for quite some time. The most important part of a new car/truck here in smartphone-crazy 2019 – infotainment — has been a source of angst for many owners. It appears that Honda remains in search of some sort of final solution, often pointing the finger of fault at suppliers for some issues.
Some Honda owners are fed up. This spring, a group of owners in California filed a class action lawsuit, claiming Honda knowingly sold vehicles with defective infotainment systems in vehicles such as the 2018-219 Odyssey minivan and the 2019 Pilot. We are referring here to Honda USA ,not Honda Canada.
Honda has also stumbled badly in recent third-party research studies on quality. And various blogs, owner sites, YouTube channels and, most important of all, official complaint sites have duly noted ongoing infotainment problems.
When it comes to class actions, I remain at least mildly sceptical. They are often pushed by ambulance-chasing lawyers who gamble that big companies such as Honda Motor will settle out of court, rather than carry on with a lengthy legal battle. They’ll file actions on a contingency basis, hoping that they’ll get a healthy chunk of any settlement.
But it’s fairly easy to find substantial evidence of infotainment problems with newer Hondas and Acuras. With barely any sleuthing at all, anyone can dig up owner complaints like the one from August of last year which describes an infotainment screen in a Honda Civic that that flashes off and on, and for which the complainant says there is no apparent software fix from Honda. I experienced a similar problem about a year ago in my test of a new Civic.
In the Honda owners’ community, there is quite a lot of buzz about infotainment issues, too. Like some of those owners, I was unhappy to discover that Apple CarPlay in the ILX and the Ridgeline did not always function. This was a random problem. At times, neither vehicle recognized by phone at all, directing me to plug in the cable to the appropriate USB port, which I did repeatedly and to no avail.
The larger story about Honda seems like a tale of two car companies. On the one hand, Honda remains a paragon of refinement and fuel economy, as noted by Consumer Reports and others. Yet at the same time, CR places the Odyssey at the bottom of the minivan segment for reliability. The problem lies in complaints about in-vehicle electronics.
The same issues have been found in quality studies by J.D. Power and Associates. Yes, the Power research found owners complaining about the reliability of the latest infotainment systems.
“When you look at the reliability of Honda and Acura, they have slid over the last several years,” said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, told Automotive News, adding that he thinks “Honda has gone off course a bit” in terms of reliability.
So far, Honda has been the Teflon automaker on issues of quality and reliability. Automotive News reports that Honda’s consumer loyalty in the last five years remains among the top three in the industry, according to J.D. Power consumer research. J.D. Power officials says owner loyalty is linked directly to the reliability still associated with the Honda brand.
Still, in J.D. Power’s 2019 three-year Vehicle Dependability Study, the Civic and Pilot, both redesigned last year, recorded 146 problems per 100 vehicles, 10 more than the industry average.
Honda, reports J.D. Power, is not alone in suffering infotainment woes, however. And the latest research also suggests that Honda is getting a handle on the problems.
What do you do if you’re thinking about buying a Honda? It might be a good idea to go over in detail the latest quality issues with your sales associate and the dealership service manager before signing that agreement to purchase. Ask for an explanation, in particular, about the infotainment issues that pop up all over, and ask to review the associated TSBs.
For your own peace of mind.