What Is Subaru Telematics?

Subaru’s telematics program is called STARLINK, but it’s being phased out in 2023. Here’s what you need to know.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
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Subaru telematics is a unit that offers extra safety and technology features to drivers for an annual cost. Although available in most newer Subarus, STARLINK is being phased out in the near future.
Whether you drive a Subaru
WRX STI
or a Subaru
Outback
, you’ve probably heard of the Subaru STARLINK telematics system. Maybe you’ve even accidentally pressed the help button and connected with a friendly advisor. Telematics systems provide a suite of useful features, but it can be difficult to know whether they’re truly worth the fee.
Here’s what you need to know about the Subaru telematics program, including what’s included, how it works, and who may get the most benefit from STARLINK.

What is Subaru telematics?

The Subaru telematics program is called STARLINK. This telematics unit adds valuable tech features to your Subaru for an ongoing fee.
In exchange for an annual fee, Subaru drivers with equipped vehicles can unlock access to additional infotainment, communication, and security features using GPS and wireless technology. It interfaces with your audio parts, amplifier, and DCM.
This helpful suite of features includes real-time support for roadside assistance as well as convenience features like diagnostic alerts, a navigation system, and remote start. STARLINK safety features include collision notification, stolen-vehicle recovery assistance, and even remote services to help you if you run out of gas.
Note that STARLINK features may vary by model and model year.
In the past, new Subaru owners enjoyed one free year of STARLINK. However, this telematics system is being phased out in 2023. This is partially because of a right-to-repair law that was passed by Massachusetts voters in 2012. It’s also a smart strategy by the automaker to support the new MySubaru app and current automotive innovation.
MORE: The top 5 causes of car accidents
Telematics data tracks a vehicle’s behavior over space and time. Subaru of America (SOA) is just one of many automakers that has a telematics system. In addition to providing useful features to drivers, telematics data is wirelessly sent back to the manufacturer, too. 
Here are some of the data points a telematics system like STARLINK may track:
  • Idling time
  • Speed
  • Harsh stops and starts
  • Fuel consumption patterns
  • Locations
If you ever need to repair your STARLINK system, make sure to work with a mechanic who can obtain an
OEM
Subaru part. They can handle the process of locating the specific part numbers for your vehicle.
STARLINK may be available in the Subaru Forester, Crosstrek, WRX, Ascent, Outback, Impreza, and Legacy depending on the model year. 2015 is the earliest model year that included STARLINK. 

Who should use Subaru telematics?

The Subaru telematics program is most valuable to drivers who need more connectivity and communication with their vehicle. You should use STARLINK if you want onboard navigation, improved safety features, and help staying on top of
basic car maintenance
.
However, if you enjoy listening to CDs/radio and you change your own oil regularly, then all the extra features of STARLINK might be unnecessary for you.

Is Subaru telematics worth it?

After the one year of free STARLINK expires, you may have to pay between $99 and $149 per year to maintain access to these features. 
If you’re a busy driver and you enjoy regular service alerts and advanced technology, then the annual fee for Subaru telematics may be worth it for you. The cheapest Subaru with STARLINK is the
Impreza
, with a starting MSRP of around $21,000. That’s a pretty good price, especially when you consider that STARLINK offers features like roadside assistance that you’d otherwise have to pay for out-of-pocket.
However, STARLINK is in the early stages of being discontinued, according to Subaru. If you want a future-proof vehicle (or at least a decade-proof vehicle), then a car with Subaru telematics may not fit the bill.
If you already have a vehicle with STARLINK, you might be facing a situation where your vehicle’s telematics system is no longer supported. Reach out to your dealership or local Subaru retailer to see what they can do. 
“After signing up with
Jerry
, I went from $199/month to $97/month for my car insurance. My 2019 Subaru Forester now has full coverage for a great price!” —Rhonda H.

FAQs

Telematics programs track driver behavior and send that data back to the manufacturer. These systems benefit automakers because they can learn from the data to improve their cars. 
Telematics can also benefit drivers because some telematics programs (such as STARLINK) include valuable features like roadside assistance, maintenance alerts, and connected audio setups.
The first year of STARLINK is generally free in qualified new and used Subaru vehicles. However, the fee usually increases to either $99 or $149 once the first year expires.
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