If you can’t bear to hear your kids complain about the absence of Netflix on your umpteenth road trip of the season, relief is in sight. A handful of automakers is now equipping cars with WiFi hotspots.
Those in the market for a GM, Audi, Chrysler or Ford can now kick those days of dropped signals or missing connectivity to the curb. No more remote detours that may leave you stranded and signal-less, and no more watching in dread as the signal bars dim just when you need directions.
WiFi hot spots transform cars into mobile hubs for a kind of all-access pass to the stuff you can’t live without.
Chrysler Makes the Connection
Chrysler was one of the first to debut WiFi back in 2008, thanks to Uconnect — a dynamic infotainment system that turns any of its Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep cars into a mobile hot spot. It has the added bonus of a wide swath of connectivity. The 150-foot range ensures that your high-speed, secured connection lets anyone on your private network access the Internet from up to 50 yards away. This is ideal for firing off a few emails as you’re lounging by the pool this summer.
General Motors’ 4G LTE
In early 2013, General Motors announced it would partner with AT&T to outfit most of its 2014 models with high-speed data connectivity, thanks to OnStar’s 4G LTE. That means faster mobile data speeds, streaming video in the back seat, enhanced safety features and a smattering of real-time features. And there will be plenty of connectivity to go around. Passengers will be able to access a WiFi hot spot that can power up to eight different smartphones, tablets, laptop computers and other devices.
The lucky four GM models to become transformed into blazing WiFi hot spots? The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette, Impala, Malibu and Volt will be the first to come optionally equipped with OnStar 4G LTE. The new system will eventually be offered on most GM vehicles — from the Chevrolet Corvette sports car to the Cadillac XTS luxury sedan.
Luxury carmaker Audi is no stranger to morphing cars into lightning-fast hubs of connectivity. Its lineup (including the 2015 A3 sedan) comes equipped with Audi connect, a multifaceted infotainment system that also serves as a 4G WiFi hotspot for up to eight devices.
Ford Forks Over Connectivity
Those wanting to get synced up with Ford can use the SYNC with MyFord Touch to turn any WiFi-enabled smartphone into an Internet access point for those little media hounds in the backseat. Wee “Bubble Guppies” fans (or their “Game of Thrones”-addicted parents) can hit the Web while you drive and it won’t disrupt your phone’s connection to SYNC, which provides such features as turn-by-turn navigation help, vehicle health reports and 911 Assist.
The cost for WiFi hotspot capability varies; generally, it’s a subscription fee plus added dollars for the cell phone bill. It may prove to be a small price to pay for peace in the back seat.