Playing the license plate game on the long drive to Grandma’s is increasingly becoming a thing of the past. The advent of built-in DVD players changed the passenger experience, and now Wi-Fi capable cars enable streaming movies, playing music, and surfing the Internet.
So, is Internet definitely coming to a motor vehicle near you? Here’s a look at the “Big Three’’ American car manufacturers and where they stand on automotive internet.
Technology: Uconnect + Wi-Fi by Mopar. Vehicles with Uconnect access simply require the purchase of an Uconnect hotspot subscription: no cell phones or software required.Charges are per day ($9.99), week ($19.99), or month ($24.99) based upon owner preference.
Available For: The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2015 Chrysler 200, and 2014 Dodge Durango are among the 13 vehicles eligible for Uconnect Access.
Technology: SYNC with MyFord Touch. The owner plugs a USB mobile modem into the SYNC system, turning the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot. SYNC is factory-installed, meaning that the system is hard-wired into the vehicle.
Available For: 2014 and 2015 models of the Taurus, Fusion, Explorer, and Fiesta. According to Ford’s website, 24 vehicles have this capability.
Technology: OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot.Car owners pay based on their desired gigabyte capacity per month. AT&T users can tack on the monthly fee to their service plan, but those who use other cell providers are still able to get the technology but for a slightly higher rate.
Available For: Over 30 models in the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC brands. Most 2015 models, from the Chevrolet Cruze to the Cadillac XTS, will come with a standard five-year OnStar Basic plan.
GM has the most vehicles with Wi-Fi capabilities, but every maker seems to be pursuing increased options for internet access. After all, technology features are a strong factor in determining which car to purchase, according to a recent survey by market research companyJ.D. Power Associates.
If the trend continues, it may be a matter of time before all cars have internet capabilities. Then instead of asking “Are we there yet?’’, kids will be able to pull up Google Maps and look for themselves.