Innovation and BMW are fast friends with a long history. The automaker broke new ground in 2004 by integrating an Apple iPod in its cars, bringing playlists to life behind the wheel.

For its 2014 models, the luxury automaker bumps up its multi-tiered infotainment system, BMW Connected Drive, with point-of-interest voice search, enhanced navigation tools and seamless connectivity to your smartphone. Its mantra -- stay connected, stay focused -- leads to tons of cool, tech-y features that bring safety, entertainment and convenience together in a gorgeous package.

The brain of the system is iDrive -- made up of a controller, screen and, in 2014 models, a touchpad -- which controls the vehicle's entertainment, information, communication and navigation. To cut down on driver distractions, the controller's rotate-and-press mechanism lets you operate it with one hand. For those frequently used functions such as multimedia, radio or navigation simply press the direct access keys.

Meanwhile, the BMW Connected app allows you to control ConnectedDrive features from your iPhone -- everything from unearthing countless radio stations to saving directions to that new taco joint you've wanted to try. You can create customizable news stations with Stitcher and music destinations with Pandora. The system can even read Facebook and Twitter feeds out loud (no peeking at your phone required).

When you are away from your car, the My BMW Remote app allows you to control it from your mobile device. We're talking remotely locking and unlocking your doors, and locating the car when you are up to your elbows in shopping bags and can't for the life of you remember where you parked.

BMW Connected Drive's safety features are top-notch and include blind spot detection (a warning signal blinks and the steering wheel vibrates) and a stunning head-up display. The latter works by projecting critical information such as current speed, lane changes and collision warnings through the windshield in your direct field of vision, keeping your eyes on the road. You'll also be wowed by its night vision technology, which can detect a person or animal up to 900 feet ahead.

Looks as though the love affair between BMW and tech is one for the ages.

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Lindsay Martell has covered entertainment news for E! Entertainment and tech trends for TechTV, CNBC, Newsfactor, and Sci-Tech Today, among others. She lives in Oakland, California.

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