Connected cars are automobiles with built-in cellular data connections designed to power a range of services including in-car WiFi connectivity. These options are becoming mainstream features on new vehicles and will likely become standard equipment on all new vehicles going forward.
Because these systems rely on outside internet connections, car manufacturers are partnering with cellular equipment and service providers to supply cellular-based data solutions. There are no existing standards, so features and cellular plan availability will depend on the specific vehicle's model and year.
Vehicles with this feature come equipped with equipment and services provided by manufacturer connectivity and telematics services, such as OnStar, Entire, SYNC Connect, and others, backed with data plans available from the carriers, primarily AT&T.
This is a rapidly changing and evolving market.
There are also aftermarket options available from manufacturers as well as cellular carriers. These typically are devices that plug into a vehicle's diagnostic (OBD-II) port that can provide a limited set of features, including 4G-LTE based WiFi connectivity.
Connected cars can provide a wide variety of capabilities, depending on the manufacturer, model year, and vehicle options. These capabilities can include:
- Internet access via an in-car WiFi connection
- Emergency services (roadside assistance, 911, automated crash response, stolen vehicle recovery)
- Vehicle and driver monitoring & diagnostics
- Entertainment options
Most connected car options require a data plan with a compatible cellular provider, though some systems, particularly in older vehicles, are designed to pair to a smartphone or other cellular device, and use the phone's data to enable the connectivity features.
Connected Car options are intended for use while the vehicle is in operation. WiFi capabilities, depending on the vehicle, will only work while the car is running or while the ignition/accessory switch is on or power is otherwise supplied to the equipment.
Even though RVers, in particular, might choose a toad or tow vehicle that includes a Connected Car option, this limitation makes Connected Cars a non-optimal choice as a primary home internet replacement on the road.
Review & Testing Status
We tested general connected car capabilities utilizing a 2020 Subaru Ascent with an AT&T data plan. The details are in the member section below.
Potential Alternatives to Consider:
For other popular mobile hotspots on the market - here are our featured options:
This Review Contains Additional Member Exclusive Content
We are honored to be able to present the above overview for free without 3rd party advertising or sponsorships. We are not paid by the manufacturer of this product to provide this listing or review, and nor are we selling this equipment or plan (purchasing links are provided below as a courtesy and some may be affiliates).
Our members have funded this resource center and any extensive hands on time
we have spent with the product to review it.
The in-depth portions of this review are made available to them which might contain: hands on testing notes, field testing data, user interface tour, product analysis, comparison to alternatives, setup tips, video tutorial, insider tips, vendor discounts and fellow member experiences.
If you're a member, please log in to continue with this review.
If you're not a member.. please consider joining us!
Requires purchasing a new or recent model year vehicle and then activating service via the partnered provider.
The guides below have been hand-picked to help further your education about selecting mobile hotspots and best utilizing them in your mobile internet setup.