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Free Forever: Connect CARE (includes SOS Call, online roadside assistance, stolen vehicle locator, and Audi Service Request).
But Mutchler says that shouldn’t be a primary factor in choosing a car.Fortunately, there are alternatives to these expensive services that can save you money without depriving yourself of the benefits they offer.“Most of these infotainment functions can be handled through your phone, without having to pay for factory-installed systems,” says Consumer Reports Senior Automotive Engineer Tom Mutchler.(Read "How to Keep Streaming Audio From Chewing Through Your Data Plan.") The built-in telematics system has some clear advantages, including better cell-phone reception.Plus, a mobile phone cannot replicate a car’s emergency telematics service feature that can sense an accident and request services, advising them if there has been an airbag deployment.(The downside is streamed maps consume data, potentially impacting your monthly cell bill.) We’ve also found that Apple’s Siri and Android’s voice controls have far more accurate responses to questions than most automakers’ in-car query systems.
While not all cars are compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, Mutchler says most ultimately will be, as manufacturers this smart phone integration as vital to be competitive.This is especially appealing if you have unlimited data on your phone plan, but there are ways to bring your own tunes on the road without breaking the budget.Some music services, including Pandora and Spotify, also have a free version, albeit with advertising, and some allow the music to be downloaded in advance.While these features are often enjoyable and useful, the fees that arrive after the free trial is over can be an unexpected hit to your monthly car budget.In fact, the point of these trial periods is to get new car owners hooked on these features, then sell them on hundreds of dollars per year worth of service.Sirius XM radio subscription fees determined by the provider.