OnStar RemoteLink will be free to new GM buyers for fiv... OnStar RemoteLink will be free to new GM buyers for five years -- even if they don't have an OnStar subscription. (GM photo).
Looking to stay in step with its growing competition, OnStar announced Wednesday it will offer free features to new customers who buy a 2014 vehicle.

OnStar pioneered the connected car, offering emergency services and navigation functions to drivers. Now 17 years old, the General Motors telematics brand is the old man in an industry filled with an ever-expanding number of infotainment options that are changing the way drivers stay connected with the outside world.

Even if they decline an OnStar subscription, which can run anywhere from $18.95 to $28.95 per month, OnStar will offer these buyers its RemoteLink Key Fob Service. The service will be free for five years, a promotion dealers will begin offering customers today.

Using the service, customers can lock or unlock doors, activate the vehicle's horn and lights and remotely start their cars via a smart phone or tablet. Sitting in an airport across the country and worried you forgot to lock your car? Now you can do it remotely.

"Our vehicles are getting more connected, and so are we," said Mary Chan, president of GM Global Connected Consumer.

She said that GM has approximately 6 million OnStar subscribers in the U.S. and Canada, and that 325,000 are already using the RemoteLink application on a regular basis.

GM first launched RemoteLink on the Chevy Volt in 2010. Thirty-six 2014 models will be compatible with the app.

The full OnStar package still available with a paid OnStar subscription includes monitoring the status of the vehicle's operating system, fuel-range reports, tire-pressure monitoring and emergency advisors available with the push of a button.

Even if first buyers sell the car, subsequent owners will still enjoy the free service if it falls within the five-year timeline.

"Our objective was to upgrade OnStar to the next level of experiences," Chan said. "We want to address connected consumers and bringing their digital life from the outside into the vehicle when they are in there."

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at peter.bigelow@teamaol.com and followed @PeterCBigelow.

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