No, this isn't the first time we've seen in-car Wi-Fi as an option, but if you wanted a way to surf the web inside a Subaru, you're in luck. The automaker announced it will now offer a mobile Wi-Fi router as an option for its 2011 Outback.
Much like Chrysler's UConnect Web, Subaru's hotspot is based upon Autonet's in-car router, which taps into a 3G network. Speeds can average anywhere between 400 kbps and 1.2 mbps, which is perfect for light web surfing, e-mail, or listening to internet radio stations. Up to 20 people can share the Wi-Fi connection, so long as their devices are within 150 feet of the router.
According to Subaru, the router can be installed either at the port or at your local dealer. Although you could install an Autonet router on your own (and in any Subaru model, no less), adding it to a 2011 Outback in this fashion allows it to be considered a genuine Subaru accessory, meaning it's covered by a Subaru-backed warranty. Better yet, Subaru will give the first three months of 3G service at no extra cost.
Opting for the router will add $499 to the Monroney of your new Outback, along with a one-time activation fee of $35. After the first three months, expect to shell out roughly $29 a month to retain in-car 3G service.
A neat idea (especially for your passengers on long road trips), but with the proliferation of 3G and 4G smartphones across the nation, we wonder how many customers would take the plunge. Is an in-car mobile hotspot something you'd consider adding to your ride, or would you rather have the Internet within your pocket? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.