Two people in a vehicle with an Echo Auto.

Amazon Echo Auto brings most of Alexa’s voice assistant features to the vehicle. With a quick voice command, users can stream audio, receive turn-by-turn directions, make phone calls, shop on Amazon, and more. It’s a welcome reprieve from fumbling with dashboard buttons or your phone.

What Is Echo Auto?

Echo Auto is one of the smallest Alexa-powered devices around, weighing less than two ounces and measuring only 3.3 by 1.9 by 0.5 inches, making it the perfect size for your dashboard. It contains an Action button, a mute button, and eight microphone holes that can listen to voice commands and enable surround sound reception from anywhere in the vehicle, working against background and engine noise.

The front of an Amazon Echo Auto.

Echo Auto mounts onto a square indented base with a clip that magnetically attaches to the Echo Auto’s underside, allowing for easy mounting onto any air vent. It also includes two inputs (a 12-volt car adapter and a micro USB). For non-Bluetooth-supported vehicles, a 3.5mm audio cable is also included. To achieve the best results, users are encouraged to keep the Echo Auto lying flat with its top shell (microphone holes) facing upward.

Like the tabletop Echo, Echo Auto sports an LED bar across the front to show its status, including faint blue indicating active mode, orange indicating setup mode, and red indicating non-listening (muted) or error mode.

The device syncs with your phone’s data plan. The Echo Auto device itself doesn’t accept a cellular signal.

A side view of an Echo Auto.

What Can I Do with Echo Auto?

Echo Auto powers many of the same functions as home Alexa-powered devices like the Echo and Echo Dot, such as voice controls for streaming music playback, hands-free calling, navigation, weather updates, and Alexa’s full suite of skills and games. If you’re looking for Alexa to tell you a joke or two, Echo Auto is more than capable of delivering.

Echo Auto is also Alexa Calling-enabled, which means that you can call other Echo devices anywhere in the country as long as that device is synced to your contacts list.

Lastly, Echo Auto can be integrated with all of your Alexa-powered smart home devices. It can adjust Google’s Nest thermostat, activate your home alarm system, and turn on your Philip Hue lights 10 minutes before you get home.

How Limited Is Alexa in a Car?

Unlike home-based Echos and Echo Dots connected to stronger Wi-Fi, Echo Auto relies on a cellular connection, which might ebb and flow depending on where you drive. It’s not uncommon to see inconsistent performance when you’re traveling due to dropped or poor reception.

It also has lesser functionality than home-based Echos and Echo Dots. For example, Echo Auto is tethered to one phone, which means that removing the phone from the vehicle and stepping out of range could stop a connected playlist from playing. Also missing is audio setting controls, such as the ability to adjust the volume or change Alexa’s wake word.

Another example is needing the exact closest location. An “Alexa, where is the nearest gas station?” command will not pull up the nearest gas station, but retrieve a list of gas stations and their respective distances instead. A native text or maps app cannot be pulled up by a voice command, so any activity like this requires unlocking your smartphone and navigating to the apps on your own.

Lastly, Echo Auto might not be as receptive to voice commands from time to time. Alexa can catch most voice commands at humming, cruising highway speeds, but can struggle a bit over heavy road construction noise or wind howling in from open windows.

Should You Get Echo Auto?

We highly recommend the Echo Auto for people who would prefer to issue voice commands for music playback, navigation, and other functions as opposed to fumbling with their phones. It becomes even more useful if you have an older car that does not have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which provides a touch screen interface powered by your iPhone or Android phone.

In short, it turns a “dumb car” into a “smart car.”

Alexa in Your Car

Amazon Echo Auto

With the Echo Auto, you can inexpensively add Alexa to almost any car.

Installation Is Easy

Installing Echo Auto is as easy as installing the Echo, Echo Dot, and the other more traditional Alexa-powered devices.

Simply download the Amazon Alexa app from Apple’s App Store for iPhone or from the Google Play Store for Android, launch the app, select “Add Devices,” tap on “Echo Auto,” and follow all of the instructions to pair your vehicle.

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Ray Prince is a freelance writer with more than four years of experience covering automobiles and technology, writing for publications such as Gadget Review, Hybrid Cars, Auto Guide, and Vehicle History.
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