Is there an Echo in here? Toyota, Lexus add Amazon Alexa to select 2018 vehicles

2018 Toyota Highlander SE Amazon Alexa
At CES last year, Amazon Alexa was everywhere. The intelligent personal assistant was integrated into everything from cars, smartwatches, and even air purifiers at the show. But as it turns out, CES 2017 was just the tip of the digital iceberg.

At CES 2018, Toyota announced that it will add Alexa into select Toyota and Lexus vehicles this year, with more coming in 2019. The assistant will be assimilated into the brand’s Toyota Entune 3.0 and Lexus Enform 2.0 infotainment systems, allowing drivers to ask for directions, control media, get the latest news, shop, or connect with more than a thousand third-party apps through voice controls. They can even interface with their smart home from behind the wheel. Toyota isn’t the only carmaker to bring Alexa into its stable, as BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen did the same at last year’s event.

“Voice services are rapidly becoming more popular, and through our integration with Amazon Alexa, Toyota and Lexus customers will soon be able to easily speak to Alexa in their cars while on-the-go,” said Zack Hicks, senior vice president and chief information officer of Toyota Motor North America.

“We’re thrilled that Toyota and Lexus will bring Alexa to customers on the road,” said John Scumniotales, head of product for Amazon Alexa Automotive. “Our vision for Alexa is that she should be everywhere a customer might need her – at home, in the office, on phones – and in cars. This integration means that customers can interact with Alexa, virtually anywhere they drive.”

As expected, Toyota has been busy at CES. On Monday, January 8, the brand debuted the e-Palette concept, which is more of a mobility solution than a traditional car. Designed for ridesharing, freight transportation, and even food delivery, the autonomous-capable e-Palette is appropriately boxy, with a reconfigurable cabin that’s just as suited for mobile meetings as it is for an office-wide pizza party. Toyota is currently assembling a diverse group of companies — including Amazon, Pizza Hut, Uber, Mazda, and DiDi Chuxing — to form the e-Palette Alliance, a unique union that the automaker hopes will blend ridesharing with other businesses in the future.

For more from Las Vegas, stay tuned to our CES landing page.

Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Deals

Best deals for smart home plugs that control your lights and appliances

Smart hubs and speakers play central communication and management roles in your home, but smart plugs let you add lights and appliances to your system. Any smart plug you buy must support one feature or anything you plug in stays dumb.
Smart Home

Alexa’s latest skill helps patients manage high blood pressure

People who need some help managing their high blood pressure are getting some help via a new Alexa skill developed in partnership with Omron Healthcare that will work directly with the manufacturer's monitors.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Cars

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.
Mobile

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.
Cars

Aston Martin’s 1,000-hp Valkyrie will boast the Mona Lisa of the engine world

Aston Martin has released new details about its F1-inspired Valkyrie hypercar. Co-developed with Red Bull Racing, the Valkyrie will be one of the most aerodynamic production cars ever made.
Cars

The redesigned 2020 Passat shows Volkswagen still believes in sedans

The sedan segment in America is shrinking, but Volkswagen still believes in it. The German firm has released a teaser sketch to preview the redesigned 2020 Passat it will introduce during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.