What they offer now: In most cars, you can connect your phone or music device to your audio system using a USB cable, Bluetooth, or WiFi to stream music and podcasts or access music apps like Pandora and Spotify. Some vehicles, such as Teslas and Volvos, have onboard connections to directly stream into the car.

CR’s take: A good audio streaming system should allow you to access your music or internet streaming service without having to touch your phone. Well-designed systems let you navigate your music using steering-wheel controls, voice commands, or through a touch-screen display. Many systems automatically start playing music off your smartphone when you plug it in via USB merely to charge it, overriding the music source currently playing. One way around this is to use a 12-volt power cord with a dedicated USB port for phone charging.

More on Infotainment Systems

What owners say: Even the highest score—Tesla’s 68 percent—isn’t all that high, which suggests that drivers weren’t overly enthusiastic with audio streaming. Comments from Tesla owners indicate they like the dependable streaming, listing “music on demand” as one of the car’s numerous highlights. Many Volkswagen owners praised their system’s Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatibility, which enables them to access Spotify from their cell phones without touching the phone itself.

Cadillac’s Cue and Chrysler’s Uconnect (with the smaller 4.2-inchscreen) tied for last, with just 36 percent of owners saying they were very satisfied. Cadillac owners focused most of their scorn on Cue as a whole, calling it “terrible,” “abominable,” and generally unintuitive. Some Chevrolet owners said that sometimes the audio disconnects Bluetooth “or doesn’t connect to begin with,” as one said. Other Chevrolet owners said the MyLink system makes playing music from phones confusing.

A chart that highlights the most and least satisfying audio streaming systems, by brand
Illustration: Michael Brandon Meyers

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the October 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.