2016 mazda cx5
Mobile computing—thanks to the advent of smartphones—has become so ubiquitous many people now feel cut off from the world if they aren’t connected to the Internet in some way. With the emergence of this social phenomenon, WiFi has become a major selling point for all sorts of places where people gather, which also includes our cars. The first mainstream manufacturer to pull this off was Chrysler. As a result, you’ll find cars from all of its brands on this list of cheap cars with WiFi capability. Increasingly though, while a number of builders have installed gear to make their cars rolling hotspots, because smartphones have hotspot capability as well, manufacturers are choosing to leverage the functionality, rather than add the cost and complexity of dedicated WiFi modems. Thus our list contains a mix of cars with built-in WiFi, and cars relying upon smartphones to provide connectivity.
The darling of the entry luxury marketplace, Audi’s A3 is an exceptionally nice car. It’s good-looking, fun to drive, and priced especially reasonably for the level of sophistication it provides. While the most expensive car on our list, it is also the cheapest luxury car you can get with 4G LTE connectivity and WiFi hotspot capability. Further, the Audi A3 offers mobile application integration with Audi Connect. This helps you find parking spaces, provides traffic information, weather forecasts, and Google satellite imagery to supply navigation with pictures from Google Earth. The Audi A3’s WiFi hotspot capability can support up to eight devices—all accessing the Internet simultaneously. Pricing starts at $30,900.
While every Buick model offers 4G LTE WiFi capability, the least expensive Buick models—the one qualifying for inclusion on this list of cheap cars with WiFi capability—are the 2016 Buick Verano, starting at $21,065; and the 2016 Buick Regal, starting at $27,065. The capability is offered as part of the OnStar with 4G LTE package. Its built-in hotspot enables the connection of up to seven mobile devices simultaneously. In addition to WiFi functionality, Buick’s OnStar with 4G LTE package features an enhanced version of OnStar providing remote diagnostics, turn by turn navigation, stolen vehicle recovery, accidental lockout and mechanical difficulty assistance, as well as automatic emergency services notification in the event of an airbag deployment.
Photo by General Motors
While Chevrolet’s Spark, Sonic, and Trax are among the absolute cheapest cars with WiFi capability, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu offers the functionality as well. Just as the Buick models we profiled on the previous page, the Chevys use the OnStar with 4G LTE package. To reiterate, the built-in hotspot enables the connection of up to seven mobile devices simultaneously. In addition to the WiFi functionality, OnStar with 4G LTE features an enhanced version of OnStar providing remote diagnostics, turn-by-turn navigation, stolen vehicle recovery, accidental lockout and mechanical difficulty assistance, as well as emergency services notification in the event of an airbag deployment. Spark pricing starts at $12,270, Sonic starts at $14,345, Cruze starts at $16,170, Trax starts at $20,120, and Malibu starts at $22,500.
Photo by Chevrolet Media
The sleek new Chrysler 200’s WiFi capability and price might qualify it to appear on a list of cheap cars with WiFi capability, but the look and feel of the lovely four-door sedan is anything but cheap. The 2016 Chrysler 200’s WiFi capability comes courtesy of Chrysler’s Uconnect Web by Mopar. With it, you have complete access to email, websites and music, multiple device connectivity, and it will work within 150 feet of the vehicle. Further, the system can support up to 10 mobile devices simultaneously. Other features of the Uconnect system include voice command over any Bluetooth enabled device—as well as the 200’s audio system. Travel guidance, fuel prices, movie times, and point of interest location are provided as well. Chrysler 200 pricing starts at $21,995.
Like its Chrysler 200 corporate cousin profiled on the previous page, the Dodge Dart qualifies as yet another cheap car with WiFi capability as it, too, can be equipped to run the Uconnect Web by Mopar system. This means the Dart can also access email, websites and music at a range of up to 150 feet from the vehicle. Further, the system is capable of supporting up to 10 mobile devices simultaneously. Other features of the Uconnect system include voice command over any Bluetooth-enabled device, as well as the Dart’s audio system. Travel guidance, fuel prices, movie times, and location of points of interest are provided as well. Dart pricing starts at $16,895.
More than just a cute face and a fun drive, the FIAT 500L hosts a broad variety of connectivity features. However, rather than offering a dedicated WiFi hotspot, the Fiat leverages smartphones to provide a host of services through the Uconnect Access Application. So technically, it does actually qualify as a cheap car with WiFi capability. The system’s Vehicle Finder can be used to locate the 500L in a crowded parking lot by pinpointing the Fiat’s location on a smartphone’s map and providing directions to the car. The Send Destination to Vehicle function lets you search for locations and points of interest on your phone, then send those locations to the 500L’s touchscreen so you can get distance estimates and route maps. You can also use it to start the Fiat remotely (with the automatic transmission), as well as lock or unlock it. Fiat 500L pricing starts at $19,495.
Photo by FCA Media
Ford’s Sync 3 system also leverages the WiFi capability of your smartphone to offer a broad suite of connected services. Just as with the previous versions of Ford Sync, you can use voice control to make phone calls, choose your entertainment selections, and access applications. In the event of an accident or a similar emergency, the system also provides 911 assistance. You can also interact with applications using voice commands. For example, if you like a song Pandora is playing, say the words “Thumbs up.” and it will be noted within the application. You can also tell it to find your saved stations, skip a song, or play a different track. Siri Eyes Free provides verbal control of iPhones, and the Sync3 system gets updates over WiFi (using your smartphone) when they are issued. Escape pricing starts at $23,950, Focus pricing starts at $17,225, and Fiesta pricing starts at $24,580.
Photo by Ford Media
Hyundai’s Blue Link is another of the systems designed to leverage the WiFi capability of your Smartphone to provide connected car services. While Blue Link doesn’t serve as a dedicated WiFi hotspot, it does allow users to employ the Internet to perform Google Destination Search, remote start, (with an automatic transmission) enhanced roadside assistance, stolen vehicle recovery, preconditioning of the car’s interior, and location of the car in a parking lot. Blue Link also provides vehicle maintenance information; schedules maintenance services, and is wholly compatible with the Apple Watch. Elantra starts at $17,250, Veloster starts at $18,000, and Sonata starts at $21,750.
Mazda also leverages the smartphone to provide owners with useful WiFi enabled features. The MyMazda App keeps track of maintenance schedules, provides access to the car’s service history, informs owners of offers and promotions, recall information, roadside assistance, dealer locations, and parked car location. It is also configured to interface with the Mazda Connect function built into the cars, which also provides smartphone interactivity for a host of applications and other functions, including Internet radio and a host of location-based services. Mazda3 starts at $16,495, Mazda6 starts at $21,495, and Mazda CX-5 starts at $21,795.
Photo by Mazda
Scion gets its cars out to the ‘Net through what it calls the BeSpoke system. Key features include navigation with turn-by-turn instructions and voice input for addresses. It also supports voice-activated media and telephone commands. Further, BeSpoke delivers personalized music channels and social media updates, plus location-based services for restaurants, coffee houses, hotels, and weather information. While the Scion models won’t help your smartphone get out to the Internet, they will support its ability to serve as a hotspot while providing a number of in-car services. So, in a roundabout way, this does rate Scion’s models a spot on the roster of cheap cars with WiFi capability. Scion iA pricing starts at $15,700, iM starts at $18,460, tC starts at $19,385, and FR-S starts at $23,305.