FordPass dongle adds LTE, WiFi and app control to older cars

Also provides smartphone control, vehicle health, security alerts and vehicle location tracking

Last January, Ford introduced a new gadget it would test in a pilot program that added connected functionality to old cars. The SmartLink plugged into the On-Board Diagnostic-II (OBD-II) port to function as a 4G WiFi hotspot with other features. Today, they're releasing it to the public, and 2010-17 model year Ford vehicles that don't come with modems will be able to buy and use them.

Third parties like Samsung, T-Mobile and Verizon have sold these dongles for years, so it's interesting that an automaker is releasing its own version since they presumably know more about their cars. That comes in handy for some of the SmartLink's other features, like allowing smartphone control of existing key fob features, vehicle health and security alerts, and vehicle location tracking.

These cool features don't come for free: You'll have to pay $17 per month with a two-year commitment (plus the cost of installation) to get a SmartLink in your vehicle. It comes with a 1GB or 30-day (whichever comes first) trial for Verizon 4G LTE that turns your car into a WiFi hotspot; If you want to keep using it, you'll have to add the service to their account with the telecom (or register a new one if they don't already have one). Those interested can pick up a SmartLink at Ford dealerships starting in mid-2018.