Modern vehicles contain complex electronics that can often perform incredible functions with little owner awareness. One example is built-in GPS tracking systems that provide real-time location monitoring. While not ubiquitous, this technology is increasingly commonly on new cars.
What automakers offer factory GPS tracking, what models have it available, and should you activate the capability? Let’s explore what new cars offer built-in tracking straight from the factory.
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Luxury Brands With GPS Tracking
Many luxury makes either include sophisticated tracking systems as standard equipment or offer it as an option. Brands featuring OEM GPS tracking include:
- Mercedes-Benz mbrace – Available on most models to locate stolen or missing vehicles. Activation fee required.
- BMW ConnectedDrive – Optional service localizes vehicle position via app on supported models. Paid subscription required.
- Lexus Enform – Integrated system for monitoring Lexus vehicle location through a phone app. Active subscription needed.
- Cadillac OnStar – Long running provider of optional built-in GPS tracking on most Cadillac models, with paid activation.
- Land Rover InControl – Available tracking via a phone app on newer Land Rover SUVs with subscription purchase.
While convenient, expect fees both for initial activation and continued subscription services for OEM systems.
Mainstream Brands With Tracking
Many mainstream automakers now offer some level of optional factory installed GPS tracking on certain models:
- GM OnStar – Available as an option on many Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models at added cost.
- Ford MyKey – Can geofence vehicle location alerts for parents of teen drivers.
- Toyota Safety Connect – Paid subscription provides location monitoring on supported Toyota models.
- HondaLink – Phone app can display position of properly equipped newer Honda vehicles for a fee.
- Hyundai BlueLink – Available to integrate onto some models to locate via app for monthly charge.
While not ubiquitous across all models yet, built-in tracking for mainstream cars is expanding. Activations fees and ongoing subscriptions are still common however.
Tesla’s Constant Connection
As a tech focused electric vehicle manufacturer, Tesla takes a different approach by providing constant passive connectivity and GPS location via the vehicle’s network connection on all models built since 2012.
No additional activation steps or fees are required. Location can be monitored via the Tesla phone app at any time.
Why Factory Tracking Systems Are Appealing
There are some benefits to having an integrated OEM tracking system over using a simple third-party GPS tracker:
- Deep integration – Take advantage of onboard vehicle power, antenna and internal network. Avoid wiring hassles.
- Data connectivity – Leverage high-speed cellular and satellite connections built into luxury vehicle telematics systems.
- Clean installation – No visible components to tamper with or disable for stealth monitoring.
- Smart features – Interface with other vehicle systems for insights like ignition status, trip detection and more.
- App integration – Monitoring via intuitive phone apps with reliable connectivity and minimal load.
While pricier, factory telematics offer a clean implementation only automakers can provide.
Key Things to Understand About OEM Tracking
Before paying to activate built-in tracking, understand these key points:
- Activation not free – Despite electronics being installed, fees still apply to enable and subscribe to monitoring services.
- Privacy controls – Systems allow tracking to be disabled for valet or loaner situations preventing misuse.
- Flexible monitoring – Alerts can notify on specific trips, location changes or driving habits as needed.
- Potential dependencies – Some systems may disable remote start or other functions if tracking service is cancelled.
- Subscription renewals – Don’t forget to budget ongoing costs for monthly or annual GPS tracking plan renewals.
Get clarity on the full costs both upfront and long term before committing. The convenience still outweighs these factors for many.
What Models Offer Factory Tracking?
Wondering if a particular model offers integrated tracking? Here are some specific vehicles across brands featuring OEM systems:
- Toyota Camry
- Toyota Highlander
- Toyota Sienna
- Toyota Tacoma
- Honda Accord
- Honda CR-V
- Honda Odyssey
- Honda Pilot
- Ford Mustang
- Ford Explorer
- Ford F-150
- Ford Super Duty Trucks
- Chevrolet Suburban
- Chevrolet Tahoe
- GMC Yukon
- Cadillac Escalade
- Mercedes S-Class Sedans
- Mercedes GLS SUVs
- Mercedes AMG Performance Models
- Tesla Model S
- Tesla Model 3
- Tesla Model X
- Tesla Model Y
Of course built-in systems are expanding across lineups constantly so check new models for the latest.
Considerations Before Using OEM Tracking
While appealing, factor in these considerations before activating manufacturer tracking:
- Do you really require constant real-time monitoring? Many people find they check less often than expected.
- Are more basic solutions like recording odometer miles sufficient for your usage case?
- Can a standalone third-party tracker meet your needs at lower cost?
- Are you comfortable with the manufacturer having full access to the vehicle’s movements?
- How will activating tracking impact insurance rates, if at all?
Unless exploiting full vehicle integration capabilities, simpler and cheaper options likely exist.
Privacy Best Practices With Car Tracking
Any GPS tracking comes with privacy concerns. Take these reasonable precautions:
- Only track vehicles you own or have permission to monitor.
- Disclose tracking to any other drivers. Make activation obvious.
- Keep logins secure – don’t share credentials. Use two factor authentication if possible.
- Set up geofence alerts sparingly – only as needed for security or safety.
- Create clear guidelines on accessing and monitoring vehicle data.
- Freeze service temporarily if loaning vehicle to others. Fully cancel if selling.
- Review retention policies – how long is location data stored by the automaker?
Respecting boundaries preserves trust and goodwill while still benefiting from vehicle tracking capabilities.
Integrated OEM factory tracking systems are appearing on more new vehicle models from mainstream and luxury brands alike. While subscriptions and fees apply, the deep integration into the vehicle and robust feature sets appeal to certain owners. Those prioritizing regular location monitoring or fully connecting to their new car may find the expense worth it. But more casual tracking needs can likely be met through less expensive third-party solutions. Considering both your use cases and budget allows you to make the right choice when it comes to in-car GPS tracking.