Hands-free music and more in your car: Amazon’s Echo Auto


Amazon Echo Auto REVIEW

For its new iteration Amazon has improved its Echo Auto hands-free car doodad hugely, writes an impressed PAT PILCHER.


In our home Alexa is everywhere. Life without her is difficult to imagine. Now with Amazon’s second version of their Echo Auto, she’s even secured a spot in our car. Like its name suggests on the tin, the Echo Auto is a smart speaker designed specifically for cars. A year after its first release, Amazon just launched the new and improved second generation version. In my review of the original I was unimpressed, so this time around, I was curious to see if wrinkles had been ironed out.

Unlike the original, the 2nd Gen Echo Auto is significantly more compact and sleek, which means it’ll easily fit on most car dashboards without getting in the way. Tucked away inside it is an array of eight microphones which ensure good voice recognition, even when you’ve got the heater or aircon running.


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Getting set up was surprisingly simple. This is largely due to an included adhesive mount that attaches to the Echo Auto magnetically, as well as a cigarette lighter adapter and aux audio splitter box. Amazon thoughtfully included two mounts, which means swapping Alexa between cars is a doddle. This time our car stereo had an aux audio connection, allowing us to connect the Echo Auto up. If your car doesn’t support a wired or Bluetooth aux connection, you’re shit out of luck, Echo Auto won’t work.

Firing up the Alexa app on my phone (iOS/Android) saw the Echo Auto seamlessly pairing via Bluetooth, allowing me to access music, contacts, and navigation apps with the same voice commands we use at home. Like other echo hardware, the Echo Auto can make use of skills you’ve installed using the Alexa app.

In use, Alexa performed flawlessly. The improved far-field mic setup saw voice recognition working regardless of heating/aircon and road noise, with Alexa picking up my voice commands accurately, which made for a happy and hands-free experience for drivers.

The Echo Auto can be used to control music playback, placing calls, sending text messaging or even navigation (using the Google Maps app on my phone). It handily also allowed me to find nearby petrol stations, restaurants and so on. Getting Alexa to do my bidding saw her responding quickly. One feature I particularly liked was that the Echo Auto worked with the numerous Hue lights and other smart devices just like the other Amazon Echo speakers in my home, allowing me to turn on lights and have music playing before I even got through the front door. Needless to say, this is very handy indeed. The other nifty Echo Auto feature involves Alexa’s tight integration with music streaming services such as Amazon Music, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio, allowing me to have music, news and podcasts or even audiobooks playing during a roadie.

As the Echo Auto uses your smartphone’s data connection, there is usually a small delay when you get in your car as it needs to re-pair with your phone’s Bluetooth. Because it relies on mobile data, your mileage with it serving up music and so on will vary depending on mobile coverage and your mobile data allowance.

The handiest thing about the Echo Auto is that by being voice command driven, your hands stay on the wheel and your eyes on the road, which makes for a far safer drive. While the new Echo Auto is a significant improvement over the original, it has no built in speaker, so if your car does not have an aux input, it simply isn’t going to work for you. That said, getting an aux wired in is relatively cheap, and the sheer utility of the Echo Auto makes getting the wiring done a compelling option.

The 2nd Gen Echo Auto is solid improvement over the original. Its excellent voice recognition, simple setup, and many other options make it a no-brainer for adding smarts to your vehicle, especially if you are already an Alexa user. That said, if you already use Android Auto or similar, it doesn’t bring much that is new aside from seamless integration with existing smart home tech. For a hands-free solution for your car, the Echo Auto is a great choice.



Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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