Chrysler is joining the long list of automakers that are bringing Web-connected apps to their vehicles with its 3G-enabled UConnect Access via Mobile suite. We spent some hands-on time in one of the company's 2013 Ram 1500 Laramie's to see how well the system works and if it can measure up to the competition.
Chrysler's UConnect Access via Mobile suite includes apps from Aha by Harman, iHeartRadio, Slacker and Pandora to give users a nearly limitless number of listening options. Using the system is as straightforward as navigating Chrysler's standard UConnect system. In just two taps we were able to access the Media Apps menu, where we chose from one of the four available apps.
While UConnect Access via Mobile has its own 3G connection by way of Sprint, the system's apps tap into a user's smartphone connection. To help cut down on distractions, a driver can pair their phone with the system, then put their device away without ever having to interact with it. Chrysler says this will help ensure that users keep their eyes on the road and not on their phones.
Beyond its apps, the UConnect Access via Mobile also offers an impressive 3D maps feature. When accessed here in Las Vegas, the map pulled up 3D images of surrounding hotels including New York-New York's faux Empire State Building.
Interestingly, Chrysler is giving users who don't purchase a navigation feature with their new vehicle the ability to upgrade at a later date. The option is an excellent feature for consumers looking to purchase a pre-owned Chrysler. If the previous owner didn't buy the navigation option when she bought her car, the second owner can have Chrysler activate the feature through a simple upgrade. Unfortunately, the upgraded navigation feature won't have 3D mapping.
While many of the same apps Chrysler rolled out are already available on other automaker's systems, the UConnect Access via Mobile is still a step forward to increasing the company's competitiveness in an increasingly crowded connected car market.