Siri Eyes Free Keeps Driver's Eyes on Road, Hands on Wheel

img922702997 1439906387004 jpg 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser; | Manufacturer image

CARS.COM — At any given point in the day, about 660,000 people are fiddling with a smartphone or other electronic device while driving, an activity that increases their chances of getting into a crash threefold, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser features Apple’s Siri Eyes Free to help combat this sort of distracted driving.

Related: Which 2016 Cars Have Apple CarPlay?

Siri Eyes Free allows iPhone users to use voice commands to perform limited smartphone functions such as make phone calls, listen to and dictate text messages, play music and more — all while the phone screen is blank to reduce the temptation to look at it. Siri Eyes Free is standard on the Land Cruiser; this three-row SUV doesn’t offer the more comprehensive Apple CarPlay.

Once your iPhone is connected via Bluetooth, you can deploy Siri with the touch of a steering-wheel button.

img68318594 1455642756974 1 jpg Testing Siri in the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser | photo by Courtney Messenbaugh

Normally, I don’t talk to Siri much. In fact, the only play she gets is when my children steal the smartphone and ask her ridiculous questions such as “Siri, do you have a boyfriend?” and “Siri, do you like Nutella?”

I was surprised, however, by how often I used Siri Eyes Free in the Land Cruiser. Siri was useful for finding locations and sending occasional text messages to my husband: “Hi honey. I’m in the car. Driving. Sending you this with the car and Siri’s help.” She even dug up an article about the War of 1812 and read it aloud to help my daughter with her homework while I was driving.

By simply pressing the phone off-hook button on the steering wheel, a microphone appears in the multimedia touch-screen and you can ask Siri to do whatever it is you normally ask of her.

There is a chance she’ll mishear you, particularly if everyone is loudly chatting away in the car, as is often the case in my vehicle. Nonetheless, most of the time this feature worked well. My only lament is that the Land Cruiser starts at $84,820, but this feature can be found in less expensive Toyotas and in other brands.

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