Your automotive DJ: Five cars that play requests

Some cars are so good at meeting your needs, they will play the music you ask for by name.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read
Josh Miller

Voice-command systems in cars let you make phone calls, enter an address into navigation, and even request music by an artist or album name, all without taking your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel. Voice command over music usually works with an iPhone or iPod cabled to the car, or a thumbdrive plugged into the USB port. Most of the cars below rely on Gracenote's music database to translate artist and album names into phonetics understandable by a voice recognition system. This database includes nicknames, so instead of saying "play Bruce Springsteen," you can say "play The Boss."

Here are five cars waiting to take your musical requests.

2013 Acura RDX
A couple of years ago, Acura added a feature into its latest cars called Song By Voice. This system lets drivers request music by artist or album name. It is only included on cars with the navigation option, and only works for music stored on an iPod or iPhone plugged into the car, or on the car's own hard drive, which includes space for locally stored music. Beyond the RDX, this feature is available on every Acura model, and some Honda models now, as well.

2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe
BMW's music request system works very similar to Acura's. On models equipped with navigation and iPod integration, you can request music by album or artist name. The music you are requesting must either be stored on the car's hard drive or on an attached iPod or iPhone. Almost all new BMW models can be equipped with this voice-command feature, although BMW options get pricey.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu
Chevy began rolling out the MyLink system in its cars last year, which includes an advanced voice-command system. Along with control over Bluetooth paired phones in the car, MyLink lets you request music by artist, album, genre, and song title. This system works with USB drives and iPods or iPhones plugged into the car. The MyLink system is available on almost all 2013 Chevy cars. However, if you opt for navigation it may delete the MyLink system on some models.

2013 Ford Escape
Ford came out with its Sync system years ago, offering advanced voice command over music before any other automaker. Sync works with almost any music storage device plugged into the car's USB port, indexing the music and letting you ask for artists, albums, genres, and song titles. The 2013 Escape is just the latest Ford vehicle in which we tested Sync, and it is available on every other model.

2013 Lexus GS 450h
Lexus recently started offering a voice command system that included advanced voice recognition in its cars. This system lets the driver request music from devices plugged into the car's USB port by artist or album name. Recently updated Lexus models, such as the GS, RX, LS, and ES have this voice-command capability.