How Amazon Alexa made a long drive in a 2021 Chrysler Pacifica more bearable

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica parked on a curb next to a nice school building.
Credit: Chrysler

It was the best of days, it was the worst of days. That line is from the book by Charles Dickens called A Tale of Two Cities but it’s also a good summary of a recent drive I took in the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica. Let me cut right to the chase: I forgot my phone. Jumped in to drive, had a few snacks and my sunglasses, but left the plastic gizmo on the counter.

No worries. The worst day turned into a good day. I realized about five minutes into the drive that I could still access my music, podcasts, and the weather easily using the Alexa bot. I’m not 100% sure about this, but at least in terms of my testing, this is the first time I’ve been able to use Alexa without a phone connected by Bluetooth or a USB cable. (Many Ford models let you use Alexa but you are really just controlling the bot on your phone.)   

The spacious minivan (which I’ve noticed some reviewers dinged for being old school) has plenty of room for your family, a few cargo boxes, and maybe the family pup. 

In my case, I popped a bike in the back easily enough. (It’s winter in my area but I am testing it using an indoor trainer.) Doing this errand meant driving about 60 miles, and as we all know, this is unbearable unless you have a phone. Before phones, we barely survived.

Alexa works because the vehicle itself can connect to the service. I didn’t need my phone for that, and I even realized I didn’t need my phone at all. I played a couple of podcasts and listened to music, then asked Alexa about some upcoming NBA games.

Connecting is a simple matter of authenticating the vehicle with the Alexa app, but once you do that, it’s connected no matter what. It means all of the functionality you’d expect, including controlling the temperature in your house or ordering something from Amazon all worked great. I have to hand it to Chrysler because this is the first time that has worked for me.

In the near future, we might get to the place where having a phone is not as important as you might think. During my test for a week, I even skipped bringing the phone because I knew I could make calls with Alexa, control my music, and do just about anything else. 

Someday bots like Siri and Alexa will be even more prevalent in our homes. 

Today, I can make calls with one of the Alexa speakers, even using my own carrier and contacts. In the office, I barely use a phone anymore since I text using an app on my Dell computer and make calls using Microsoft Teams. 

Pervasive technology means we won’t be as dependent on phones if we can control everything by voice by speaking to speakers and…cars.