Zubie Connected Car Service review: Zubie tracks your car, lacks mpg info

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Zubie sets up quickly and costs less than similar connected car devices. It shows vehicle trip information and includes a geofencing feature.

The Bad Zubie doesn't include a Web-based interface, only an app, and offers no information about a car's fuel economy.

The Bottom Line The Zubie Connected Car Service keeps good track of the family car and can help people be better drivers, but the lack of fuel economy information is a big miss.

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The latest cars often come with telematics services that let you monitor maintenance and location from a smartphone app. The Zubie Connected Car Service lets you retrofit an older car with many of these capabilities.

Zubie consists of a "Key" that plugs into a car's OBD-II port, something you will find on every car built from 1996 on, and an associated smartphone app. The Key scans the car's internal data, and includes a GPS chip and mobile data connection.

The Key beams its data up to the Zubie mothership, which in turn makes it accessible to the smartphone app. Zubie's system works very similarly to other devices I've reviewed from Delphi and Audiovox.

After a few setup steps, installing Zubie proved very easy. Upon loading the Zubie app onto my iPhone (there is also a version for Android), I had to sign up for an account. Then I entered the VIN and odometer reading for my car.

To connect the app to the Key, Zubie provides an activation code. But more conveniently, the company also includes a card with a CR code, so I could scan it with my phone's camera rather than type a string of letters and numbers.

After these steps, I plugged the Zubie Key into my car's OBD-II port (usually somewhere under the dashboard). For this test, I used a BMW 428i I happened to be reviewing. The Zubie Key is compact, so fit easily up under the BMW's dashboard, but its white coloring and brightly colored lettering made it anything but a stealthy install.

Zubie Connected Car Service
Zubie showed the details of any trip I took on a map. Screenshot by Wayne Cunningham/CNET

I was pleased to find that, after one short trip in the car, Zubie was up and running, making the data for that trip available to the app. This setup procedure was much simpler than that of the Delphi Vehicle Diagnostics device.

The account of my trip not only showed the entire route on a map, but registered data points for my top speed, amount of time spent idling, and any incidents of hard braking or acceleration. The BMW I was driving included an idle-stop feature, meant to save gasoline at stoplights, and the Zubie trip report included an amusing little exclamation point on the route for every time the engine shut down.

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Where to Buy

Zubie Key Connected Car Service

Part Number: ZK30012M

MSRP: $99.95

See manufacturer website for availability.

About The Author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.