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OnStar FMV (For My Vehicle) Review – Take the ‘On’ Button With You

In the past, OnStar was predominately found in such GM models like the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac.  You would know it when you see it by the subtle blue ‘On’ button found on your rear-view mirror.  Well with the introduction of OnStar FMV you can now have the OnStar experience in other cars, instead of just GM Models. OnStar FMV (For My Vehicle) ultimately offers the same premise as the OnStar system found in the GM models but now you can buy it separately for your car and have it installed professionally. In the end you’ll experience all of the same features OnStar customers have come to love for the past couple of years.

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We got to take the OnStar FMV for a spin in a Toyota Camry.  The FMV was installed and mounted where your traditional rear-view mirror would be and no wires were visible to make it attractive to would-be vandals.  We had recently tested out the Facebook feature on the OnStar,  so we were excited to see the FMV in action and if it varied in any way to the traditional model found in GM cars verses this new portable version.

Some Key Features for the OnStar FMV:

· Automatic Crash Response –  An accelerometer built into OnStar the mirror detects the sudden shock of an impact from the front, side, or rear of the vehicle and automatically calls an OnStar advisor.
· Link to Emergency Services –  By pressing OnStar’s red emergency button, drivers are immediately connected to a specially trained emergency advisor for assistance in situations occurring inside or outside of their vehicle.
· Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance –  If the vehicle is reported stolen, OnStar advisors are available 24/7 and can attempt to locate the vehicle through the mirror’s internal GPS and relay that information to law enforcement.
· Turn-by-Turn Navigation –  Just press OnStar’s blue button and ask OnStar advisors for directions to a specific location or ask the advisor to find a point of interest such as a gas station or nearby restaurant.

From the comfort of my drivers seat I pressed the blue ‘On’ button and asked the OnStar advisor to give me directions to The Cloisters. Within minutes the directions were downloaded to my OnStar FMV and I was on my way. The human advisors were always friendly and courteous to speak with, and eager to help me. In fact they are so pleasant, that I just wanted to keep chatting with them because they seem so jovial.

Once the advisor left the line, the Turn-by-Turn voiceover took over and started directing me as any typical GPS navigation system would or Smartphone app. Honestly, I actually prefer OnStar’s Turn-by-Turn ease of use to the GPS navigation app on my smartphone. I was told turn-by-turn where I needed to go well enough in advance of an exit, and all without having to ever glance down at a display or fumble for my phone or navigation system. And if I stopped the car for awhile, the Turn-by-Turn system stopped and then resumed when I started moving again.

And if you don’t want to talk to a friendly advisor – you can instead upload your directions to OnStar FMV through Google Maps via the eNav feature. Just map your destination, then click send in Google Maps,  and your directions will be waiting for you when you are ready to hit the road.

Another nice feature is that you can call someone from the FMV. You just press the Hands-Free calling button and you can dial anyone you want via Bluetooth connection from your mobile phone or through a prepaid package of minutes that can be purchased through OnStar. So if your phone has died but you need to call someone, you can call them from your rear-view mirror. The call reception was pretty clear and consistent as I drove around. You can also receive phone calls through the OnStar FMV system.

Currently the OnStar FMV can be installed in many different models of Ford, Toyota, Honda, Dodge, and Jeep cars. The Turn-by-Turn feature is certainly very easy to use, but one area that I would improve upon is the option of getting alternate routes, or the ability to receive alerts when there is heavy traffic up ahead. But altogether the OnStar FMV experience is an excellent one. It also provides users with the peace of mind, that if they need help, someone is just a button push away.

Overall, OnStar might not be new technology, but it’s certainly a welcome one to cars that lacked it in the past. However, this comfort is pricey. The OnStar FMV retails for $374.99 with installation at Best Buy, and will cost $18.95 a month for the Safe & Sound plan that includes emergency and security services or $ $28.90 a month for the Safe & Sound plan as well as the Turn-by-Turn services.

The Good: OnStar gives you peace of mind that you have someone to reach out to in case you need help. It’s great for both women and men who don’t want to rely on the kindness of strangers to get them out of a jam, but instead they can rely on the friendly OnStar advisor. Super easy to use.

The Bad: A bit pricey and it needs to be professional installed. So far the OnStar MyLink App doesn’t work with the OnStar FMV, so you’ll have to start your car the old fashioned way for now.