2023 Subaru WRX Long-Term Update: The CD player lives!

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If Usher’s Super Bowl halftime performance deeply resonated with you — perhaps his songs were the soundtrack to how you met your significant other — then the significance of having a CD player in your car is obvious. At least it was, say, 20 years ago.

That’s why many Autoblog editors of a certain age were excited to hear our long-term 2023 Subaru WRX offers an optional compact disc player for $375. We couldn’t check that box fast enough. 

CD players were common on vehicles into the 2010s, after usurping the cassette player as the mobile music option of choice in the 1990s. Now, with multiple streaming options, satellite radio and whatever tunes you might carry around on your phone, CD players have all but disappeared on new cars.

But the WRX still offers one. The player in the WRX is neatly positioned in the center console where the driver’s right elbow might rest between shifts. Lift the lid and drop in your favorite disc. I almost prefer this location to a dashboard mount. Watch me demonstrate in the video below.


It cued up a wave of nostalgia as I made my way through old Counting Crows discs from the late 1990s and early 2000s. I seldom actually listen to an album all the way through anymore, and there’s a sense of exploration as words to lesser-known songs float through your brain. It’s the opposite of Tik Tok Radio. It also doesn’t have to be a trip down memory lane. You can buy a Taylor Swift CD at Target. Order right now and they’ll even bring it out to your car with a Starbucks drink in less than two hours. But for someone like me who likes to see and feel history, an in-car CD player is a useful throwback to the not-so-distant past.

A downside to the center console-mounted player: Your CD cases won’t fit in there. I stored mine in the glove box, which is where I wedged most of mine in my college beater, a 1993 Chevy Lumina. 

Driving our WRX can be a challenge. It requires your full attention. Working the six gears with the heavy clutch underfoot on a cold, bright morning with black coffee at the ready and an old album in the background is a form of catharsis. I don’t think about anything else. It’s a release. I’m focused, but not mentally straining. Driving the WRX is an event. And a CD player provides the fitting soundtrack.

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