The Amazon Echo Auto (2nd gen) is a small Echo that fits on the dashboard of your car. It has good microphones, is easy to set up and store when you’re not using it, and makes it easy to add hands-free music playback to a car stereo that doesn’t have Bluetooth. But it’s not as smart as the assistant that comes with your phone, and most people, including me, don’t see the point unless they already have a lot of Amazon smart home devices. The Echo Auto is a $54.99 microphone that you can mount on your dashboard and use to talk to Alexa while you’re driving. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and then connects to your car stereo via Bluetooth or a wired 3.5mm connection so you can play music.
Amazon Echo Auto (2nd gen): Description
For your car to work, all it needs is an old-fashioned cigarette lighter/power outlet and an auxiliary input for your stereo. The microphone end of the second-generation Echo Auto is even smaller than the last one (2.1 x 0.9 inches vs. 3.3 x 1.9 inches), which was already a lot smaller than the Echo speakers and pucks made for the home. It comes with a magnetic mount that you can stick to the dashboard of your car.
There isn’t much room on my dashboard, and we was a little worried that it would be too close to the volume dial on my car stereo. But it looks bigger than it is, and I found a good place for it where it wouldn’t get in the way of any knobs or buttons. The Echo Auto is powered by the USB port in your car or by a 12V power adapter. To use Echo Auto, your car needs to be running. Once it is, you can connect it to your phone (and the Alexa app) through Bluetooth.
Amazon Echo Auto (2nd gen): Pros and Cons
- Allows you to bring Alexa voice assistant to your car.
- Offers voice-controlled navigation and driving directions
- Compact and easy to install in most cars
- Limited language support compared to Alexa devices in other regions
- Relies on a stable internet connection for full functionality
- Requires a separate power source (micro-USB) in the car
|Dimensions||3.3″ x 1.9″ x 0.5″ (84.0 mm x 47.0 mm x 13.8 mm)|
|Weight||1.6 oz (45 grams)|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, 3.5 mm auxiliary port|
|Power||Micro-USB for power and connection|
|Audio||Built-in 8-microphone array|
|3.5 mm audio output for connection to car speakers|
|Echo Spatial Perception (ESP) for voice control|
|Supported Languages||English, German, French, Italian, Spanish|
|Car Compatibility||Compatible with most cars|
|Wireless Connectivity||Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz)|
|Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)|
|Audio Services||Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Audible, and more|
|Navigation||Provides driving directions via Alexa|
|Phone Calls||Hands-free calling and messaging|
|Smart Home Integration||Control compatible smart home devices|
|Warranty||1-year limited warranty|
|Price||Varies (typically around $50)|
|Official link||Visit Website|
Amazon Echo Auto (2nd gen): Design
The main Echo Auto device is a microphone unit that measures 2.0 by 0.9 by 0.6 inches and comes with a speaker box already attached to its cable. The cable ends in a standard USB 2.0 Type-A port. The Echo Auto’s microphone is a bit smaller and thicker than the ugly box on the first-generation model. It also has two smaller buttons on the front that you can use to talk to Alexa or turn off the microphone. As we have already said, the vent mount isn’t part of the standard Echo Auto package. However, the magnetic fastener is well worth the extra $8 because it’s so convenient. (However, having to pay more for it is still annoying.)
If your car doesn’t have a USB port, Amazon includes a “Quick Charge 3.0 certified” charger that you plug into your car’s 12V socket (formerly called the “cigarette lighter”). You can power your Echo Auto with a USB-A port, and the included USB-C port can fast-charge USB-PD-compatible devices up to 18W.
Amazon also includes a cable that you can use to connect the speaker module of the Echo Auto to the 3.5mm aux-in port in your car. This gives you a lot of options for how you want to hook up the Echo Auto to your car. In my case, I just plugged it into my car’s 12V socket and used Bluetooth to pair it with an iPhone and a Pixel, which I then connected to the car using their regular Lightning or USB-C ports.
Amazon Echo Auto (2nd gen): Setup
The Echo Auto (2nd Gen) comes with everything you need to set up and start using the device. Since the old version was already in my car, we decided to use the vent mount instead of the new adhesive one so it wouldn’t fall off while we were driving. Amazon does give you an extra piece of tape in case the Echo Auto falls over or if you want to move it. Since the USB cable that came with the speaker module wasn’t very long, we chose to use a USB extension cable so that it could lay flat on top of my center console. We haven’t had any problems with this setup yet, but we wish the USB cable on the new Echo Auto was a little longer, especially since it can’t be taken off.
Before you can use the Echo Auto, you need to download the Alexa app and sign into your Amazon account. Even though the setup guide has tips for mounting the device, we recommend that you install it in your car first to make the process easier. Once your Echo Auto has been added to the Alexa app, the setup process will ask you how you want to connect your phone to your car. You can choose between Bluetooth, Aux, Android Auto (wired), Android Auto (wireless), and Apple CarPlay.
To connect your car to your Echo Auto, you hear a sound three times, and then you are asked to choose your preferred music service, text message service, and map service. You can also set up Amazon’s “Find My” feature and roadside assistance at this point. Overall, this was easy to do and didn’t take long.
Amazon Echo Auto (2nd gen): Features
The Echo Auto (2nd Gen) is a lot more useful than its first-generation predecessor. When we said “Alexa,” the mic picked up my voice commands almost every time, even when “Holiday in Cambodia” by the Dead Kennedys was playing at the highest volume. It could also tell if there were other voices in the car if we said the response word and spoke loudly enough for it to hear me. The sound it makes depends on the device it’s connected to, but the Echo Auto (2nd Gen) can still make sound that’s pretty clear and never skips. It is also now easier for it to stay connected to the phone through Bluetooth.
One of the biggest problems with the first Echo Auto was how hard it was to connect to Bluetooth. At some point, you would have to do a hard reset on the Echo Auto or delete the Bluetooth connection on the phone and then reconnect it. That doesn’t seem to be a problem with the Echo Auto (2nd Gen). The Auto Mode in the Alexa app is very useful for a device that is meant to keep your hands on the wheel and off your phone. This time, it can work with third-party apps like the map finder Waze or Apple Music and be turned on or off with just your voice through the Alexa app. It has no trouble finding a place, playing the latest episode of a podcast, or shuffling my “Punk Covers” playlist. There are also now enough skills in the Alexa store that they can work with almost any function on your phone.
Amazon Echo Auto (2nd gen): Performance
Alexa’s availability was a big selling point of the first Echo Auto, and Amazon’s virtual assistant has gotten better with this new device. From what we have seen, she responds faster with the Echo Auto (2nd Gen), and the new microphones picked up my voice much better. For example, we could ask Alexa, “What’s 2 + 2?” while driving 70 mph down the highway with the windows down. She would tell me.
Just like with an Echo Dot or any other smart speaker that works with Alexa, you can set timers, alarms, and reminders, ask about the weather, have Alexa tell you a joke, or play a number of different audio games. The audio games and jokes can be helpful if you’re traveling with kids or if you are stuck in traffic and need something to do.
Since the Echo Auto is connected to your phone through Bluetooth, Alexa can only use the apps on your phone. This way, you don’t have to only use Amazon Music to listen to your favorite songs. You can also use Spotify or Apple Music. Getting back to Amazon Music, if you buy an Echo Auto (2nd Gen), Amazon will give you six months of free access to Amazon Music Unlimited.
As a Prime member, we tried listening to Amazon Music while testing the Echo Auto. Even though subscribers can listen to all of the service’s 100 million songs, you can’t stream just one album or the work of one artist. You can only use the Shuffle Mode. On the other hand, people who pay for Amazon Music Unlimited have a lot more choices when it comes to what they want to listen to.
Price and availability
The brand-new Echo Auto can be preordered starting on December 7 for $54.99, and the first units will start shipping out the week after that. For this price, you get an Echo Auto (2nd Gen), an adhesive car mount, an auxiliary cable, and a fast car charger. But the new Echo Auto will also be sold as a separate package for $62.98 that includes a vent mount along with everything above.
The Echo Auto is a great, but pricey, Bluetooth microphone and speaker for your car. It also comes with a digital assistant that you can use to make your phone do a lot of things. It makes more sense if your car doesn’t have Android Auto or CarPlay and you’d rather use a good Bluetooth microphone and speaker than the speakerphone on your phone. If you talk to Google Assistant or Siri more than Alexa, though, you can probably just keep using your phone in the car as you normally would. The Echo Auto doesn’t give you anything you don’t already have.
It’s small, sounds okay, and can do everything you’d want from a smart speaker. If you care most about music quality, scroll down to the Echo Studio and Sonos speakers below. These are our favorite Alexa speakers for listening to music.
The third-generation Echo Dot has a single 1.6-inch speaker with 360-degree sound, so it will sound the same no matter where you are in the house. The speaker on the second generation is only 1.1 inches long and comes out of one of the device’s many ports.