February 8, 2023

Almost all new cars today are true four-wheeled computers. Just as computers have grown more powerful with the addition of paid apps and free operating system updates, cars are moving in this direction.

For a monthly fee, an automaker lets you use your key fob to lock and unlock your car! More information below. Optional extras have been around since the dawn of car sales, but subscription-based offerings are relatively new.

At least the popular GPS app is still free. Here are five Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze tips and tricks you’ll use all the time.

Your car may be older. You don’t have to be without all the bells and whistles. Tap or click for a high-tech upgrade over older models.

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, it’s important to understand subscription costs before entering into a purchase contract.

mercedes benz

Automakers want to charge us more for performance and even the most basic features. Case in point, Mercedes-Benz charges owners of its electric cars $1,200 a year to drive faster.

Expensive software upgrade, ‘acceleration boost’ to get you from zero to 60 mph one Second fastest. It is suitable for the Mercedes-EQ electric vehicle range.

The German luxury car brand also charges German buyers $576 a year for rear-wheel steering on the EQS. This feature reduces the car’s turning arc, which helps with tight turns and parking. While that’s standard on EQS vehicles sold in the US, it could be a harbinger of things to come.

be careful: More than 5 million vehicles have been recalled in the past six months. Check to see if yours is on the list.

A Mercedes-Benz AMG car is seen at the Mercedes-Benz booth during the 39th Thailand International Auto Expo in Nonthaburi province.
(Photo: © Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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Audi’s “Functions on Demand” system lets drivers buy subscriptions to new features, such as smartphone features, through the car’s display screens, parking assist and dynamic exterior lighting.

Additional features can be paid monthly or annually and are available on e-tron, A4, A5, A6, A7, Q5, Q7 and Q8 models. You can choose what you want. For example, Navigation is $849 per year. Dynamic Lighting Package $260 per year.Plans are currently rolling out in Europe, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them arrive in the US

Meanwhile, Audi’s Connect Prime and Connect Plus, available in the US starting at $36 per month or $365 per year, offer improved navigation, voice recognition and Wi-Fi.

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BMW caused a stir when it announced it would charge $18 a month for heated seats in other countries. There’s also a High Beam Assistant upgrade, $8 per month, that automatically dims or brightens the headlights.

The automaker previously tried to charge buyers $80 a year to use Apple CarPlay. After receiving a lot of negative feedback, they canceled the program.

In the US, BMW ConnectedDrive Upgrades offers advanced features via software upload. You can get the dash cam feature for $19 per month or $430 for the life of the vehicle.

The Z4 Roadster compact roadster is shown at the Brussels Expo on January 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium.  The BMW Z4 (G29 Z4) has a convertible top.The car features a large digital instrument cluster and touchscreen on the center console

The Z4 Roadster compact roadster is shown at the Brussels Expo on January 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The BMW Z4 (G29 Z4) has a convertible top.The car features a large digital instrument cluster and touchscreen on the center console
(Photo by Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images)


Cadillac offers a hands-free driving system called Super Cruise for highways for $25 a month. With this, you can drive hands-free on 200,000 miles of compatible roads in the US and Canada. It comes as a free trial when you buy the vehicle, but you’ll need to pay if you want to keep it afterward.

Super Cruise is available on the following models: 2018-2020 CT6, 2021 and 2023 CT4, 2021 and 2023 CT5, 2021-2023 Escalade, 2022-2023 XT6 and 2023 Lyriq.


For the 2023 Corvette Z06 or Stingray, you’ll pay $300 for a three-year subscription to GM’s OnStar service, which includes features like remote start and vehicle diagnostics.

General Motors

General Motors is making its OnStar and Connected Services Premium Plan mandatory on all new Buick, Cadillac and GMC models, costing up to $1,500. This includes three years of automatic crash response, roadside assistance, turn-by-turn navigation, key fob, vehicle diagnostics, Wi-Fi hotspot and more.


Porsche Connect offers subscriptions for features like a Wi-Fi hotspot ($20 per month), a theft detection system ($280 per year), and navigation and infotainment ($205 per year).

Availability varies by model, and you can activate many features instantly via the Porsche Connect app. These upgrades apply to the 718, 911, Taycan, Panamera, Macan and Cayenne.


Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” beta (FSD) used to be available only to drivers with a passing score as determined through the car’s driver monitoring system. Now, the feature is rolling out to the general public, or anyone willing to pay for it.

You can request FSD from the driver’s screen or the app, but the price might make you think twice:

  • When you buy a new car, the FSD is $15,000.
  • Already own a Tesla? If you own Basic Autopilot and want to add FSD functionality, you can also pay a $99 subscription.
  • If you have Enhanced Autopilot and want to add FSD functionality, it will cost you $199 per month.
The interior of the Tesla Model S Dual Motor all-electric sedan is seen at the Brussels Expo on January 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium.

The interior of the Tesla Model S Dual Motor all-electric sedan is seen at the Brussels Expo on January 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium.
(Photo by Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images)

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Full disclosure: Tesla’s FSD has put the automaker on the radar of the federal government. The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into whether Tesla misled consumers, investors and others by making false claims about its self-driving technology. Tap or click here for my opinion.


If you live in an area with cold winters or hot summers, remote start allows you to bring the interior of your car to a comfortable temperature before you even get inside. If you’ve enjoyed this feature in a Toyota vehicle from 2018 or later, get ready to be pleasantly surprised.

You must subscribe to Toyota’s Remote Connect service to continue using the key fob to start the car. The service runs through an app on your phone. It includes other features such as vehicle status alerts, limiting the performance of guest drivers, the last parked location, and the ability to lock or unlock the doors from your phone.

Remote Connect costs $8 per month or $80 per year.

Bottom line: Ask about monthly or annual fees when buying a car. They may cost more than your budget.

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