We all know good things come in small packages. But there is nothing tiny about MINI Connected, the tech tucked inside the MINI. It merges innovative apps with your smartphone powerfully and seamlessly.

Taking a cue from its parent, BMW, Connected is built on the iDrive platform, giving drivers an array of entertainment and connectivity features that makes it an attractive option. It's available on most MINI vehicles.

It offers all the stuff you could want in a tech suite: Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, audio streaming and a USB/iPod adapter.

It's got a nifty 6.5-inch high-definition display smack in the middle of the speedometer, a joystick controller and steering wheel buttons to scroll through numerous functions.

After downloading the app onto your iPhone, you can find new music via Pandora or Web Radio, or input your own RSS feeds with the News function. The Plugin option transforms your screen into what you'd see on your iPod, so you can scroll through playlists, artists, genres, etc. If you link your Facebook and Twitter accounts, Connected will read updates to you with its text-to-speech function. And the calendar feature ensures you never miss a lunch date again; simply sync your car and iOS Calendar with the latest update and you're good to go.

The second part of the system includes navigation -- perhaps the most critical component of any in-vehicle infotainment system. One of its standout features is Real Time Traffic Information, which lists helpful icons to tell you if the going is super-slow on the interstate or if you can zip along at a good clip. The turn-by-turn function will be very helpful when you venture into uncharted vacay spots this summer. Google's snappy Send to Car feature is a must-use. It lets you forward an address from Google Maps directly to your nav system, freeing you from having to type it in (a no-no when behind the wheel).

Petite yet powerful, MINI Connected makes a big, bold impact.

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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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