Blue Link Services, Explored
Hyundai Blue Link is a suite of safety assurance, driver nannies, and social technologies that are either good for added peace of mind or general amusement. It operates via CDMA-based cellular networks to connect to central servers, which tell the system what to do. If you're not within range of a cellular tower, you're out of luck. Using the suite's services requires the car to call Blue Link, a process that comes complete with a dial tone and ringing sounds.
Accessing Blue Link
Hyundai took a page out of GM’s playbook for implementing the Blue Link controls, which are also located on the rear-view mirror. The Gentex-supplied mirror includes three Blue Link-specific buttons for standard services, enhanced navigation, and SOS emergency assistance, enabling instant access to Blue Link’s services.
The mirror also features auto-dimming, a compass, and three programmable buttons for your garage or other home automation equipment.
Blue Link Subscription Tiers
Hyundai offers three subscription tiers, ranging from basic emergency service coverage to the complete Guidance package. The other two packages include an entry-level Assurance tier and a mid-range collection of features called Essentials. Annual pricing is $79, $179, and $279. As you might expect, each successively more expensive package includes all of the features from the bundle below it.
Blue Link's emergency services are probably the biggest selling point for the telematics system. They give drivers an added sense of security that, if something happens, help will be reachable. The Assurance package includes SOS emergency contact, automatic collision notification, and enhanced roadside assistance. There’s also a monthly vehicle report that lets you know when your car is due for service, or if any faults or check engine lights require attention.
We didn't test the emergency services; falsifying something like that didn't seem particularly responsible. Instead, we're assuming the telematics features just work, since they've been available in one form or another for more than a decade.
Stepping up to the Essentials tier adds a little more fun. This package includes support for the Blue Link mobile app for iOS and Android devices. Paying extra for the $179-a-year service introduces niceties like remote start (obviously this only applies to models with an automatic transmission), remote door lock/unlock, remote horn and lights, driving nannies, vehicle theft recovery, and social features.
The driving nannies are particularly interesting, incorporating much of what Ford’s MyKey introduced. You're able to program certain limits to specific key fobs, though the monitoring is more passive. A MyHyundai website controls the available parameters, offering a geo-fence, speed alert, and curfew function. If the vehicle leaves a certain location, or enters a not-so-good area, you'll get a notification, for example. The speed and curfew alerts allow for a maximum speed or recognize certain operating hours, again, sending out notifications if they're violated. Blue Link can email you, text you, or call you. We went for the text option, and were quickly bombarded with messages when we passed 70 MPH and left the 15-mile radius of our configured home base. It was amusing at first, but became pretty annoying after a while.
Blue Link also incorporates comprehensive vehicle theft services, including stolen vehicle recovery, slowdown, and immobilization. Each feature is supposed to help law enforcement find your car. Conceivably, they can also be used to let Big Brother keep an eye on you. Nevertheless, stolen vehicle recovery consists of your basic GPS-location service that tells the police where your car is, if it still has a GPS signal. Law enforcement can then use the slowdown feature. As its name implies, this lets Hyundai slow the vehicle down via remotely via Blue Link, if it's moving. Finally, vehicle immobilization can shut the car off completely once it's no longer moving.
The social additions to the Essentials package are very novel, and include voice text messaging and location sharing. Frankly, voice text messaging is a very primitive feature, particularly when there are already infotainment systems able to send text messages using your phone's Bluetooth connection. In comparison, Blue Link voice text messaging involves a call to Blue Link services, where you're able to send a message to a preset group of friends. You have to add these contacts through the MyHyundai site.
Location sharing is another forgettable feature. It lets you share your location via text or Facebook. We used this one to tell our friends where we were during our time with the car. It might have been funny to us, but our friends found the extra information bothersome. You have to love honest buddies.
Our 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe came with integrated navigation using SiriusXM traffic and programmed points of interest. As a result, it was unable to take advantage of the Guidance package, rendering us unable to formally evaluate its functionality. However, the Blue Link Guidance feature is entirely automated. It only requires the help of an agent if you're having trouble with the system.