Audiovox Car Connection review: Track your car, and your kids' driving behavior

The Car Connection lets you define a zone. If the car leaves this area, the Car Connection sends an alert.
The Car Connection lets you define a zone. If the car leaves this area, the Car Connection sends an alert. Screenshot by Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Along similar lines is the geofencing feature, called Safety Zones on the Web site. With this feature, I set a region and gave it a label. Whenever the car left that area, the Web site recorded an alert and I could have a notification automatically sent to my phone.

The tool for creating the zones is easy to use, but limited. You start with an address, then set the radius of a circle from that point. You can have up to five zones.

The smartphone app also makes use of the Car Connection's location features. In fact, that is pretty much all it does. The app let me see the location of my car, and, through Google Maps, gave me driving or walking directions to it. That feature could be useful in large parking lots.

The Car Connection lacks any sort of remote door unlock or engine start feature, which can be found in other telematics services.

The Car Connection smartphone app only offers a few location features.
The Car Connection smartphone app only offers a few location features. Screenshot by Wayne Cunningham/CNET

One final, but limited, feature of Car Connection is a driving coach and fuel economy log. Actually, "log" is what I wish the fuel economy feature were. The Car Connection Web site merely shows your car's average fuel economy over the last 30 days, along with some driving tips on getting better fuel economy.

More useful would be a tool that showed fuel economy for specific trips, along with the ability to enter data about when you last filled the tank and the per-gallon price. That type of data would come in handy for budgeting and would also let you see if your car begins to show declining fuel economy, which could indicate a problem not shown in the maintenance alerts.

The driving coach, or Driving Scoring, as Audiovox calls it on the Web site, records bad driver behavior such as excessive acceleration or speed. While most people might bristle at a device rating their own behavior, parents will likely want to know how their kids are driving when not under adult supervision.

Unfortunately, you can't really customize what behavior might trigger the alerts in this section. For example, you can't set a maximum speed that will cause the Car Connection to send an alert.

The Car Connection doesn't tell you anything that a decent mechanic couldn't
The Car Connection doesn't tell you anything that a decent mechanic couldn't. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Cheap data
The downside of many data-connected devices such this is an exorbitant monthly wireless charge, but the Audiovox Car Connection manages to stay pretty reasonable in this regard. The cost of the device itself is about $170, while the data plan comes in at $10 per month, with a $20 activation fee. Audiovox offers a discount for paying by the year.

That pricing is much cheaper than the Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi system, which requires a Verizon data connection.

The Car Connection's feature set is not that compelling for the single driver. Its engine health monitor doesn't tell you anything that a competent mechanic couldn't, and most cars have trip computers that show more information than its fuel economy monitor does.

However, parents who want to keep track of their children's car travels and driving behavior will find its location features very useful. Not only does the Car Connection keep track of where a car has been driven, but it can also be set up to send an alert when a car leaves a specific area.

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