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Costs associated with Entune and Toyota's Connected Services

The embedded navigation system in the 2018 Toyota Camry. Map updates are free during the trial period, and a fee schedule has yet to be determined for updates after the trial runs out. (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

With the launch of the all-new 2018 Camry, Toyota is also debuting the newest version of its infotainment system: Entune 3.0.

This system will bring Connected Services, a Wi-Fi hotspot and “navigation for everyone,” which all sounds pretty great. Until you realize: None of it is free forever.

Every service comes with a trial of some sort, but after the free period is up, you’ll have to pay a monthly or annual fee to maintain the service.

We sat down with Alphonso Baker, Toyota’s in-vehicle technology subject matter expert, who walked us through the system and gave us the pricing info associated with each item.


Let’s start with the connected services:

Safety Connect: This system will connect you with an operator who can assist you with navigation or emergency situations. All you have to do is push an in-car button. It will come with a 3-year trial, and after that time, it will cost either $8 per month or $80 per year.

Remote Connect: Think of this as the smartphone app for your car. It will allow you to do things such as remotely start your car, lock or unlock doors and set parameters for guest drivers. It will come with a 6-month trial, and after that time, it will cost either $8 per month or $80 per year.

Service Connect: This system will do things such as tell you when it’s time for an oil change. Or if you throw some kind of a warning code (such as: Check Engine), it’ll send the code to your dealer and the service department will reach out to you. It will come with a 3-year trial. The good thing about this feature is it’s kind of a two-fer. If you get it alone, it will cost $8 per month or $80 per year, but if you attach it to another connected system, it’s free.

Combined, these Toyota connected services remind me of the General Motors OnStar system, which has a graduated pricing system that adds more features at each price point. The basic plan is free for 5 years, and then you have the option to buy the Protection Plan ($19.99/month), Security Plan ($24.99/month) or the Guidance Plan ($34.99/month). Each subsequent plan includes the one that precedes it.


Another popular connected feature is the availability of in-car Wi-Fi. GM has touted its 4G LTE availability through AT&T the past few years. Now Toyota enters the Wi-Fi fray with a Verizon-backed hot spot, which is included with the Entune 3.0 Audio Plus and Premium Audio. And by “included” I mean you get a 6-month/2GB trial, and after that you have to add a wireless plan through Verizon.

Plan pricing for Verizon is as follows:

  • 2 GB for $35/month
  • 4 GB for $50/month
  • 8 GB for $70/month
  • Unlimited for $80/month

If you are already a Verizon customer, you can add a line to your current plan, and it will cost you $140 per month for two lines. The price goes up $20 per month if you add additional lines.

The Wi-Fi hotspot in the Camry will connect up to five devices.


The last connected feature is the one we question, and that’s “navigation for everyone.” There are basically three ways you can access navigation in the 2018 Camry, and all of them come with a subscription fee. Kind of. Let me explain:

Destination Assist: This feature is lumped in with the connected services we mentioned above, and basically allows you to press a button and get live destination help from a real person. It comes with a 60-month trial, and thereafter will have an $8 per month or $80 per year fee. This is available in all trims of the new Camry.

Scout GPS Link: This is a system that comes with the Entune 3.0 Audio and Audio Plus, which covers all the 4-cylinder trims of the Camry. It is powered by your phone through an app, and it comes with a 3-year trial. After the trial expires, there’s a $24.99 per year fee. If you choose not to subscribe, you’ll still have access to turn-by-turn directions but no moving map.

Dynamic Navigation: This system comes with the XLE and XSE V-6 trims of the Camry and is the “embedded” navigation that you’re used to seeing in cars. But unlike other in-car nav systems, this one is a cloud-based system that updates over the air so that you constantly have the most current maps in your car. Toyota has confirmed there will be a 3-year trial period but not what the cost associated with this service will be after the trial ends. If you get the dynamic navigation and choose not to purchase the subscription after the trial expires, you lose the cloud-based updates. You should be able to subscribe or unsubscribe to this service at any time, but there is currently no information available about renewal fees or contract obligations.


OUR TAKE

Frankly, I think this is the weirdest set of guidance solutions I’ve ever encountered in a vehicle, and I say forget it all and use Waze (or Google Maps or Apple Maps) – for free – on your phone.

While I can see the point of the connected services and Wi-Fi, I’ve completely missed the value of the three navigation options.

Being connected 24/7 is here, but it comes with a price.

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