So much of this car for so long has been engineered to “work” for regular people doing regular driving things. This dedication to ease of use and ownership shows in all but one area: the infotainment system.
We were curious when we started this test if the infotainment system would hamper my relationship with the car, or if familiarity would breed fondness. I can tell you that the existence of Android Auto dramatically improved my relationship with the car – but also that its operation was sketchy. It only functioned properly 50 percent of the time. This could be a phone issue, but I’ve only experienced this unreliability in the Civic. VW products don’t have the same issue.
The touchscreen-only system comes under a lot of fire but has improved. At least now there’s only one screen in the centre stack and one in the instrument cluster. The awkward two-screen setup for both units is now gone.
Still, there’s no ledge to rest your hand, meaning to find “buttons” you have to hover your hand. The amount of times I’ve been hovering, waiting until I had a moment to look at the screen and make sure I hit the right spot, only to hit a bump and hit an entirely different button is infuriating.
Likewise, if you’re anywhere else in the system it takes three entire clicks to get back to the audio screen. One to click “Home”, one to click “Audio” and another to select the source because the source menu pops up automatically when you go to the audio screen and this setting couldn’t be turned off. That’s horrific UX and makes using the system an exercise in pure frustration. There is an “Audio” button on the left side of the screen – but it turns off the audio. That’s it. Getting back into Android Auto to the map screen after changing stations is a bit rubbish too.
And while the Civic does have a function to read your texts to you while you’re driving which is handy, the menu for it is buried and took me six weeks to find in the phone settings.
Lastly, the SiriusXM channel list format is among the least user-friendly in existence with very limited info. While other systems can show you the song playing or artist in the Electronic Program Guide – the Civic will only show channel titles. Some players have replay, rewind, pause or will even record your preset favourites for you – the Civic system does none of that.
The steering wheel control for tuning the station only does presets which is probably fine for most people. A long press does change the station but in three months I never got the hang of making it skip to the next station, I always went two when I wanted to go one and one when I wanted to go five.
Worse, there are two real dials under the touchscreen for the automatic climate control. I don’t know about you, but I set my temp to 23 and “auto” and leave it there. I’d be happier to do that with the touchscreen and repurpose those knobs for audio tuning and volume.