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OnStar vs. Sync

OnStar vs. Sync

At a Glance

If you are looking for a full-featured entertainment solution for your car, Ford’s Sync is certain to catch your attention. OnStar focuses on security and can help you recover your car if it is stolen.

Sync is the latest technological offering from Ford, developed in partnership with Microsoft. An in-car entertainment and control system, Sync is specifically installed within Ford vehicles. In the same category is the OnStar system from General Motors, a built-in multipurpose assistant. Of the two, OnStar is the most established having been in existence since 1996. Ford only unveiled Sync in 2007. On paper both systems do look similar, but if you look a bit further under the hood then there are noticeable differences between OnStar vs. Sync.


In terms of marketing and advertising Ford is placing Sync primarily in the entertainment bracket. It has plenty of other features, but these do not get top billing. The system itself offers voice activated music search, hard drive storage and connectivity with popular MP3 players. OnStar, however, doesn’t focus much on media playback features. In fact, the only real point of comparison is that both offer hands-free, voice activated calls. They are both robust systems as well, with digitally enhanced microphones to ensure call clarity. If you want all of the bells and whistles though, the Sync system comes out ahead in terms of entertainment features.


An excellent place to compare OnStar vs. Sync is in their navigation software. The way both services work is markedly different. OnStar has a built-in cell phone and GPS in the car, while Sync uses your cell phone as its communication tool. Sync’s full navigation system will cost up to $60 per year but OnStar requires a monthly subscription of $28.90. You do get what you pay for though and the quality of the OnStar is better. The Sync navigation is only in the form of voice instructions, you do not get the benefit of images and the voice technology may have difficulty deciphering some road names.

Car Diagnostics

In keeping with the high technology theme, both OnStar and Sync can integrate with your smartphone in the form of an app. OnStar allows you to check fuel and oil levels, tire pressure and control certain features of the car remotely, such as locking the doors and starting the engine. Sync doesn’t have that feature list but it does allow you to run a Vehicle Health Report to assess the condition of the car.


OnStar, unlike Sync, puts security at the top of its priority list. The OnStar system allows tracking of the vehicle in the event of theft and allows you to speak directly to a representative to report the theft. As a result the police can be contacted quickly to resolve the incident. OnStar also allows for remote locking of the car’s ignition and can even be used to slow the car down remotely during a high speed pursuit. When it comes to these features Sync is less equipped. The Sync system does not allow for GPS tracking of the car but simply allows you to communicate with the emergency services in the event of a crash. This happens automatically if the air bags or other sensors are triggered.