2011 Honda Odyssey Long Term Road Test


2011 Honda Odyssey: iPhone iPod Hiccup

September 13, 2011

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Something isn't quite right with the iPod connection in our 2011 Honda Odyssey. To be fair, the same thing happens in Ford products with the Sync system, as well as a couple of others I can't recall at the moment. It may well be an Apple "update" issue because the trouble didn't start until the release of iOS4 some months ago.

It's also clear that some carmakers have it figured out because there are dedicated iPod connections out there that DON'T do this.

"Do what?" you ask.

Say I start the car and promptly plug my iPhone into the Ody's USB jack using Apple's own white cable, as intended. Whatever I was listening to last time I drove the car starts thumping out of the Odyssey's speakers. So far so good.

The trouble starts 30 to 60 seconds later, when the music or podcast stops dead. (This coincides with the completion of Bluetooth pairing in the background.) The counter keeps ticking forward on the Honda's audio screen, however, so the song or podcast is advancing despite the silence.

None of the Honda's audio controls can do anything about it unless I give up on the iPod connection and select Bluetooth audio. But to do that properly I must also unplug the cable and forgo iPhone battery charging so I can manipulate songs on the face of the iPhone itself.

I don't want that. I want the dedicated iPod connection. I want the battery charging and the remote control and display available via the Odyssey's audio menus and dash- and steering-mounted controls. I want to keep looking forward, not down at the iPhone.

Turns out a new icon appears on the iPhone when this happens, but you must be looking at the iPod screen on the phone to see it. As per usual, a cable-connected iPhone displays no play or pause controls on this screen. What's new is the HandsFreeLink icon, Honda's branded term for its Bluetooth pairing feature. It would read "Sync" if this were a Ford.

In true Apple fashion, there are no instructions telling you why this is so and how to get your iPod back. Pressing on the new icon a couple of times does, however, reveal the solution.

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Select "Dock Connector" and the music starts playing and the iPod connection is restored to full functionality. Of course I have to reverse the podcast or audiobook in order to hear what I missed while all this was going on, but at least it works.

...until the next time I stop the car and remove the key, that is, at which point I'm back at Square One. That's right, this happens Every. Single. Time. Waiting for Bluetooth pairing to finish before connecting the cord is actually WORSE in this car because I oftentimes get silence in both the HandsFreeLink and Dock Connector settings.

There appears to be no way on my end to set things up on the phone so that "Dock Connector" is the default.

If you know the way, please tell me.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Honda Odyssey in VA is:

$107 per month*
* Explanation
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