Toyota's remote start key fob feature requires an $8 monthly subscription

It applies to models 2018 and later, with a free trial from 3-10 years.

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Steve Dent
December 14, 2021 6:16 AM
Toyota's remote start key-fob function requires an $8/month subscription
Toyota

To the consternation of some owners, Toyota's remote start key fob functionality requires a paid $8 per month subscription service, The Drive has discovered. The issue only applies to 2018 and later models, but recently came to light as the free trials of Toyota's Remote Connect subscription started to expire. 

Toyota lets you start vehicles like the RAV 4 PHEV remotely in two ways. One is over WiFi/LTE using its Remote Connect apps that cost $8 per month or $80 per year. The other is by using the key fob, which requires that you be relatively close to the vehicle.

Unless they read the fine print, however, owners may not have known that the key fob method was also part of the Remote Connect subscription. Toyota confirmed to The Drive that you'll need a paid subscription on every 2018 and newer Toyota model to use the function.

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Complicating the situation is that most buyers received a free three-year or 10-year Remote Connect trial depending on whether they had the Audio Plus or Premium Audio trim options. So for at least the first three years of ownership, the remote key fob start method would have worked without a hitch — but it's now expiring for 2018 models.

The issue was originally spotted by car shopping site CoPilot last summer. Owners are particularly irked that Toyota has linked the key fob remote start function to Remote Connect, since the key fob doesn't require an app in any way. What might be extra galling is that the limitation doesn't apply to pre-2018 cars, because Toyota didn't want to update them from 3G to LTE networks. 

Toyota isn't the first automaker to charge for key features on top of the price of the car. Mercedes also requires a subscription in Europe for rear-wheel steering in its new EQS electric car. And after charging buyers a monthly fee for Apple CarPlay, BMW backtracked and included the feature for free.

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Toyota's remote start key fob feature requires an $8 monthly subscription