• Chrysler offering free Uconnect trials.
  • The system is standard in 2013 Ram, Viper.
  • New technology includes voice-activated texting.

Chrysler is offering complimentary trials of its all-new in-car connectivity system on select 2013 models. The automaker says the 2013 Ram and 2013 Viper SRT-10 will boast free 6- or 12-month trials of its new Uconnect Access system, which provides several cutting-edge convenience features for drivers with smartphones.

According to Chrysler, Uconnect Access supplements its standard Uconnect system with a host of technology not yet available in competitive vehicles. While some items are merely new to Chrysler--like an available WiFi hotspot, remote door unlocking, emergency assistance and voice-activated searching with Microsoft's Bing search engine--one exciting new feature is unique to Uconnect Access. That item is voice-activated text messaging, which Chrysler says is an industry first--a rarity in the face of growing infotainment competition from dozens of rival automakers.

Chrysler says the voice-activated text messaging function works solely with Bluetooth-equipped smartphones that use Message Access Profile (MAP) technology. The cloud-based system broadcasts incoming text messages inside the vehicle and allows drivers to dictate free-form responses. Drivers can also compose entirely new messages for phone book contacts. Best of all, Chrysler says all text messaging functions are at the driver's fingertips, as the feature is controlled through buttons on the vehicle's steering wheel.

"Today's consumers have varying needs for in-vehicle connectivity, so we have made it our mission to satisfy them by providing solutions that are--first and always--easy to use," said Marios Zenios, Chrysler's vice president of Uconnect systems and services. "Because keeping drivers focused on the road is paramount at Chrysler Group."

Drivers of 2013 Ram and Viper models will enjoy a free trial of Uconnect Access, which will otherwise be available for a monthly fee, just like the OnStar system from General Motors. While Chrysler hasn't announced how long the free trials will be available, the automaker confirmed 6- or 12-month intervals are available, depending on vehicle configuration. Chrysler also hasn't revealed pricing for Uconnect Access once the free trials are over, though we expect the automaker to announce that information later this year.

Chrysler updated its full-size Ram pickup for the 2013 model year with a slightly revised interior and exterior. The sporty Viper was completely redesigned after sitting out the 2011 and 2012 model years. Both vehicles will go on sale later this year.

What it means to you: Uconnect Access offers some of the latest convenience features for shoppers interested in a technologically advanced new car.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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