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My Crosstrek’s Starlink Doesn’t Work In Rural Areas, I Think Subaru’s Marketing Is Misleading

Subaru Starlink has had many issues, and one new Crosstrek owner thinks Subaru's advertising is misleading buyers. Check out his story and see if you have had similar problems.

I've written much about Subaru's Starlink in-vehicle technology, from its class action lawsuits alleging that Subaru of manufacturing knowingly sold certain vehicles containing defective Starlink infotainment systems. You can read my latest update here.

There's also a need for new updates. I recently wrote about a new 3G Subaru Lawsuit that claims upgrades for Subaru Starlink subscribers, leaving 710,000 of its vehicles with issues. It revealed that telematics software, specifically from 2016 to 2019, made Subaru vehicles inoperable when technology companies phased out 3G technology in favor of 4G and 5G. Read my report here

Starlink Provides Safety And Security

Subaru says its Starlink-connected services provide safety and security

"Starlink Safety and Security helps keep you and your Subaru safe whether you're in your vehicle, at your computer, or on your mobile device. Safety and Security services include Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Recovery, and the added convenience of Remote Services."

There Are Concerns With Subaru's Starlink 

I get many questions about Subaru issues, and one 2024 Subaru Crosstrek owner contacted me with a question: Here are his concerns. 

How many (Subaru customers) are led to believe the Starlink system compares to GM's OnStar or similar 'star'/satellite-based systems? 

Jeff thinks Subaru's marketing of Starlink's safety and security features is misleading. Here is what he says. 

"It is marketed as the same 'help; I'm rolled over in a ditch...' emergency communication service. NO! It is 4GLTE ONLY. Not 3G, let alone 2."

Jeff says, Our 24 Crosstrek won't remote start or emergency call from our driveway, despite having usable cell phone service. ARGH. I have been to SOA HQ (Subaru of America) and my Subaru dealer. They offered me a refund of $250 for a 3-year subscription fee. It was like pulling teeth and getting them to admit it is 4G ONLY. ARGH!

When I told Jeff I understood that Starlink has had many issues, He responded, "I'm not frustrated with the Starlink system. It's functionality is good enough for me."

He then proceeded to tell me more. 

"It is that Subaru's marketing and claims are deliberately misleading buyers to believe Starlink is in any way comparable to OnStar or other satellite-based systems. Even this wouldn't bother me if they weren't leaning so heavily on the safety and emergency aspects, which would be only available if the driver's urgent call was being made with the car in an area where there is sufficient 4G-only reception. If you're upside down in a ditch, it will likely not work in most rural U.S."

"They need to stop the deception, and now I'm pissed."

Jeff told me he bought a 2024 Subaru Crosstrek at a Bend, Oregon, dealer last fall. He lives 200 miles southeast of Bend in a rural desert valley of less than 800 people. Cell service is available in most places from Verizon and US Cellular; AT&T is not available. 

"Remote start was mandatory for us as we have harsh winters. I realized in a short time that it did not work. Earlier this year, I had a tire blowout in a very remote desert area 60 miles south of here (on the way to the Black Rock Desert (Burningman area). No cell/radio signal of any kind anywhere." 

"I hit the blue road assist button. It sounded like it connected, but it just rang and rang. Then I hit the red emergency button, and it was the same story. I've had a dozen emails with SOA HQ and two dealer visits during this time. Visit #1 diagnosed nothing wrong, but the dealer was told to R and R the data module so HQ could retrieve data." 

"It was back-ordered. When I got the new module, it was the same story. It took six more emails of prodding questions to get out of SOA that there is nothing to do with satellites in the system. It is purely a 4G-only connectivity. Not 3G, not fringy 4G, but solidly strong 4G only. I believe it is being marketed as an OnStar-equivalent system." 

Jeff doesn't believe the average buyer who lives in a rural area realizes the entire system, remote start, door unlock, and emergency calling are useless anywhere outside of a city-grade signal.

Subaru is an all-wheel-drive outdoor brand that offers vehicles like the Crosstrek with a go-anywhere attitude. Many customers, like Jeff, use their all-wheel-drive vehicles to get further away from the city with limited or no cell coverage.  

The customer is left without Subaru Starlink safety and security services and will not have access to emergency services or roadside assistance that Subaru of America advertises.  

Subaru now offers the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness, Outback Wilderness, and Forester Wilderness outdoor-themed trim levels for active customers who want to get further off the grid. Afterall, the Wilderness trims can go further than your typical SUV

I would say Subaru has to figure out how to keep customers like Jeff who are off the grid connected to Starlink's emergency services. "That is, after all, out where a Subaru gets dirty," he says.


What are your experiences with Subaru Starlink while away from the city? Click the red Add New Comment link below and join the conversation.

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News and Subaru reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

Photo credit: Subaru


Chad Braunbeck (not verified)    May 29, 2024 - 9:55AM

Subaru clearly states on page 4 of the Starlink Safety and Security booklet that Starlink uses a 4G LTE connection. Subaru uses the same network that OnStar does, AT&T. They only satellite usage is to pinpoint the location of the vehicle. Lastly GM has had a sunset on 2 different versions of OnStar, 2g and 3g