• 5-year free trial for OnStar app
  • Included on all 2014 General Motors models
  • App lets you unlock, start or locate vehicle

General Motors is now including five years of its OnStar app free when you buy a 2014 Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet or GMC. The automaker recently announced the perk, which allows smartphone-wielding drivers to lock, unlock or start their vehicles from their phones.

Officially dubbed OnStar RemoteLink, the app debuted in 2010. In the ensuing years, it's become popular among OnStar users, racking up 320,000 regular users. The reason is it lets you remotely access many OnStar functions, including locking and unlocking, remote starting and even the "locate" feature. Locate honks the vehicle's horn and flashes its lights to help you find it in a parking lot.

"Our vehicles are getting more connected, and so are we," said Mary Chan, president of GM's global connected consumer division. "What's great about the RemoteLink Key Fob Services is that it works far beyond the range of a traditional key fob, which can come in handy in a number of situations."

Until now, most GM vehicles have offered a 6-month free trial of OnStar's benefits. As a result, the 5-year perk is a big one to shoppers who like the idea of controlling various vehicle functions with an app.

Once the five years are up, shoppers will have to decide whether to sign up for OnStar. Currently, OnStar starts around $19 per month. In addition to the app, it also offers turn-by-turn navigation and emergency services. Presumably, GM hopes drivers will find it hard to resist signing up once they've been exposed to OnStar for a full five years.

The only exception to GM's free 5-year trial of OnStar RemoteLink applies to Chevrolet Volt drivers. The Volt's version of RemoteLink boasts extra functions, such as advanced charging, diagnostic and battery-status information.

Since General Motors says the free 5-year trial is available on all 2014 models, interested drivers can take advantage. The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is already at many dealers, as is the latest Chevrolet Impala and a diesel-powered version of Chevrolet's compact Cruze sedan. More 2014 models will likely trickle in during the coming months.

What it means to you: We're impressed by the 5-year trial offer, which provides emergency assistance and increased convenience.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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