Toyota charges drivers for the convenience of using their key fobs to start their car remotely. According to a report by The reader2018 or newer Toyota models will require a subscription for the key fob to support remote start functionality.
As The reader notes, buyers have the option of choosing from an array of Connected Services when buying a new Toyota, and one of those services – called Remote Connect – includes the ability to start your car remotely with your key fob.
Buyers are offered a free trial of Remote Connect, but the duration of this trial depends on the audio package included with the vehicle. Even more confusingly, only certain Toyota models support the Audio Plus or Premium Audio packages that the free trial is offered with, which you can check for yourself in this PDF.
In other words, the remote start functionality of the key fob is tied to the audio pack that comes with the car. This was first spotted in a post on Redditwhere the original poster added a link to Toyota Remote Connect marketing materials (PDF). The message has since been flagged as “potentially misleading”, however, Toyota has confirmed to The reader that users will actually have to pay for the remote start at the end of the free trial.
The brochure linked to the post details the key fob’s remote start feature, as well as its relationship to the Audio Plus and Premium Audio packages. While a car with Audio Plus gives drivers the luxury of free remote start using a key fob for three years, a car purchased with Premium Audio offers free remote start for 10 years. After that, drivers will have to pay the price of $8/month or $80/year for the full Remote Connect service, which includes the remote start function for the key fob.
At Toyota Remote login page, it’s not entirely clear if remote key fob start functionality is included in the plan. It says the Remote Connect service allows drivers to use their smartwatch, smart home devices or smartphone to start their car, but there’s no mention of using the key fob for remote starts.
And like The reader points out, it seems that some users have been aware of this for years. In a 2019 thread on the Toyota Nation Forumusers are discussing the key fob’s remote start functionality – some users say their key fob is still able to remote start their car, but most users in this thread have a 2018 or newer Toyota, which means they can still be covered by the free trial.
Typically, paid features like these are limited to luxury car brands. In 2018, BMW charged drivers an annual subscription for Apple Car Play – on top of the $300 it charges to install the feature in the first place. The German car manufacturer later reversed his decision almost two years later.
However, BMW is still letting you pay to “unlock” new features in your car, in ways that have been described as in-car microtransactions. The all-electric Porsche Taycan has a similar system, dubbed Features on demand, which allows drivers to purchase new optional features for their Porsche, such as Active Lane Keeping or Dynamic Light System Plus. Meanwhile, Cadillac charges users $25/month after the free trial ended for its hands-free driving mode, Super Cruise, which has since been temporarily discontinued in newer Escalades due to chip shortages.