CARS.COM — Bluetooth technology that allows hands-free use of a cellphone in a car now is almost universal, and the ability to operate smartphone apps through a vehicle's audio system with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay is rapidly heading in that direction. Conquering the next frontier for in-car connectivity — turning vehicles into Wi-Fi mobile hot spots for wirelessly connecting multiple devices — also is gaining momentum.
Related: Which 2017 Cars Offer In-Car Wi-Fi?
Since Audi became the first brand to offer built-in Wi-Fi in 2011, the list has grown to 16 brands and nearly 100 vehicle lines for the 2016 model year, and it includes non-luxury brands and pickup trucks. Moreover, most automakers now are using faster 4G LTE systems.
In these cars, SUVs and trucks, a tablet or laptop — not just a smartphone — can remotely connect to office networks, play movies and TV shows, access hundreds of online radio stations and tap into other internet fare while the car is rolling down the road.
The vehicles listed here have factory-installed, built-in Wi-Fi that makes the vehicle a mobile hot spot, and they can stay connected while you're driving from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Ore.
Alas, you can't get Wi-Fi on every version of all the vehicles listed here. That feature, along with other infotainment and convenience features, may be available only on higher-priced models or only as part of an extra-cost option package. A close look at standard features and optional equipment will reveal which models do.
And the cost of mobile Wi-Fi doesn't end with the car's purchase. Most manufacturers offer it free for a few months or more, but then the vehicle owner has to step up and pay for data usage, just like with a smartphone or home-based system. That is usually on a monthly subscription basis through a wireless carrier or a service provided by the car company, such as GM's OnStar.
If you don't see a vehicle you're interested in listed here check the list of 2017 models to find out if the car you're considering was added for the new model year. In addition, aftermarket Wi-Fi kits also might be available for late-model vehicles, and dealers may offer vehicle-specific systems.
2016 Models Available With Wi-Fi