CARS.COM — The next frontier for in-car connectivity is Wi-Fi mobile hot spots that allow you to wirelessly connect multiple devices while the car is hurtling down the road. 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.
Related: Which 2016 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 more than 100 vehicle lines for the 2017 model year, and it includes non-luxury brands and pickup trucks. Moreover, most automakers now are using faster 4G LTE systems.
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 expensive 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 purchase of the vehicle. 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, stay tuned. A Ford spokesman, for example, says, "It's coming soon." Others may soon follow to keep up with their competitors.
In addition, brands such as Infiniti and Nissan are offering dealer-installed Wi-Fi systems on some 2017 models, and Jeep has a dealer-installed kit for the 2017 Compass, Patriot, Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited. Aftermarket Wi-Fi kits also might be available for late-model vehicles.
2017 Models Available With Wi-Fi