BMW 2014

For 2014, BMW follows Audi’s lead and adds a touch pad so you can finger write a phone number, contact name, or your destination, one letter at a time. There’s also voice input. The BMW touch pad is the top of the console-mounted iDrive control wheel while Audi’s is adjacent. BMW locates four function buttons just in front of the control wheel: media (music player, CD) and radio on the left, phone and navi on the right, with a menu button in between. The button pairs form a V. Without taking your eyes off the road, you can feel which is the front and which is the rear button. The control wheel itself is rubberized for better grip. Overall, BMW is ahead.

BMW pioneered the cockpit controller a decade ago. Slide the controller left, right, up, down to start your selection, turn the wheel to fine-tune it, and press down to execute. BMW iDrive may be the best way to control all your music, navigation, and phone options as long as you read the freaking manual, then practice. Got that, J.D. Power and Consumer Reports survey respondents? It has become clearer that capacitive touchscreen interfaces have issues on road surfaces bumpier than what you encounter sitting still in the dealer showroom. Lincoln and Ford (MyFord Touch) are backing away from touch; Cadillac (CUE) needs to.

The BMW 3 Series defined sporty sedan performance for three decades. Now the compact Bimmer is also a flag bearer for driver assistance technology and engine efficiency. we can have the 3 Series with a gas engine, turbo diesel, or hybrid.