This Garmin device looks, listens and responds for a safer drive

Anna Hecht, CNN Underscored
Mon March 26, 2018

Story highlights

  • Garmin Speak Plus offers advanced dash camera and GPS turn-by-turn navigation
  • It uses Amazon Alexa for hands-free control of entertainment system and more

The Garmin Speak Plus with built-in Amazon Alexa ($229.99; is the do-it-all car camera that looks, listens and responds. Basically, it acts as a second set of eyes that also allows you to control your music and navigation using voice commands.

There are three main features that make this gadget so great. In no particular order, that would be the highly innovative dash cam, built-in Amazon Alexa tech, and the turn-by-turn navigation system.

What makes it an impressive value is the way it packs in features that would usually require you to buy several different devices. For just $230, you're getting a gadget that includes an automatic incident detection system camera, GPS and Amazon Alexa. When you consider what you'd normally pay for each of these functions, it can add up fast. For instance, consider the average price for an incident detection system camera (which tends to run between $70 and $300). Then look at the Garmin GPS navigation systems available from Best Buy, which range in price from $110 to $699.99. Then, the latest generations of voice-controlled Amazon Echo speakers range from $49.99 to $99.99. Put all that together and you've just saved yourself quite a few dollars, and a lot of space in your car.

1. The dash camera

The built-in dash camera automatically records your journey and stores video footage. That way, you'll always have a record, should an incident occur, and can be sure of when and where it happened. To view and share your footage, simply download the free VIRB Mobile app to your smartphone.

This Garmin has impressive safety-enhancing features, such as forward collision and lane departure warnings. These send alerts if you are driving too close to others or if you drift off-road or cross lanes incorrectly. Additionally, when you're sitting at a stop light, your Garmin will signal you to go once traffic begins moving ahead. Options like these can add to the cost of a new car, but here they're included in the $230 package. For more on these warning features, click here.

2. The turn-by-turn navigation

This compact device also acts as your GPS navigator without requiring any additional displays or subscription fees. It uses in-vehicle Alexa Voice Service in combination with Garmin's exclusive turn-by-turn navigation. This integration makes it possible to simply say where you want to go — and Garmin Speak handles the rest.

As you drive, it calls out directions, indicates street names, and displays arrows so that you always know which turn is next. Simple as that.

3. The built-in Amazon Alexa

As Garmin puts it: "Garmin Speak Plus with Amazon Alexa is what you love about Amazon Alexa, now in your vehicle." And we couldn't agree more.

Now, you can drive smarter by using the hands-free feature to ask it to play music or the news, give you directions and more. With total voice command access to the entertainment center, you can keep your eyes on the road for safety. For directions on where you're going, simply say "Alexa, ask Garmin ..." and she'll spit out your turn-by-turn directions to specific destinations.

For music lovers, Alexa can play music from Amazon Music, Pandora, SiriusXM and more. For those who do their best thinking in the car, Alexa can create to-do lists and read your calendar aloud as you drive.

If that's not enough, your Garmin Plus also uses Alexa to check weather, give traffic updates, control smart home devices and activate interactive games.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.