After almost 15 years of keeping OnStar
exclusive to its own vehicles, GM
is finally making the service available as an after-market add-on for other cars. The OnStar mirror
should be compatible with most cars on the market when it comes out this spring for $299. On top of the retail price, you'll also have to cough up for an OnStar subscription ($18.95 per month or $199 for the year), and pay for installation (which will likely be performed by Best Buy, which just has a stellar track record
). While you'll be able to call OnStar operators for help or to track a stolen vehicle, you'll be missing out on some of the more advanced features, like remote door unlocking (in case you leave your keys in the car). The OnStar mirror does have Bluetooth, though, and can act as a hands-free speakerphone.
With more people toting smartphones packed with GPS receivers, it's harder and harder to make the case for OnStar. The biggest selling point of the original service has been the tight integration with GM vehicles, which allows for remote door opening and car diagnostics, but the retail version of the product won't be able to offer such features. If you happen to be a fan of OnStar service -- but not GM cars -- this might appeal to you, but we doubt it will suddenly double OnStar's subscriber base.