Or you can opt for one of two optional Alpine head units. The top dog is the 340-watt Scion Navigation System (SNS) that adds an extra $1,999 to the price. The SNS is a multimedia powerhouse that includes satellite navigation with XM NavTraffic and Bluetooth, but it also lets you use the color touch screen to watch videos via an iPod or the internal DVD player. Music source options include AM/FM radio, aux jack, Bluetooth audio, CD, DVD-Audio, HD radio, iPod, XM radio, USB memory stick or you can use the RCA inputs to connect an external A/V source. Sound quality can be tweaked via Scion's pre-set, selectable sound processing or you can call up the EQ screen and customize each source independently.
All 2011 Mini Cooper vehicles, including the new Countryman, get updated nav system and radio options including HD radio and Mini Connected, a downloadable app for iPhone and iPod Touch users. When combined with the Mini Visual Boost and/or Mini navigation system, it allows Mini drivers direct access to iPod functions like playlists and Genius mixes. You can also listen to Internet radio, get an efficiency analysis of your driving, use Google local search and Google Maps "send to car," and receive RSS feeds. Mini Connected can also send and receive Facebook and Twitter posts read aloud or displayed on the center screen and there's a way to warn other Mini drivers about traffic conditions. A base Mini Cooper hardtop starts at just over $20,000.
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is set to include an updated version of OnStar. OnStar subscribers now have voice control over Bluetooth connected cell phones and can have text messages and news feeds read aloud without taking their hands off the wheel. Also, owners of many 2011 GM vehicles will soon be able to control certain vehicle functions from their smartphones via OnStar and a downloadable app. Remote locking, remote start and vehicle information like fuel range, odometer and oil life can be access via iPhone and Android now, but soon the technology will be available to all smartphone users. An owner can check on or control certain functions no matter how far away from the vehicle they are. However, advanced OnStar services require an annual subscription fee. The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is priced from $16,995 to $22,695.
Finally, all Kia vehicles now come standard with an auxiliary jack and USB port. Plus, Kia's new UVO (short for "your voice") system takes staying connected one step beyond Bluetooth to the point where it almost matches Ford's stellar Sync system. Unlike Sync, UVO always includes a small color screen that can display album art, a small internal hard drive for storing music, the ability to play music or make phone calls via voice command and a rear parking camera. UVO is optional and should start showing up on select Kia vehicles by the end of the year. The 2011 Kia Forte and Soul are priced well under $20,000 and a nicely equipped 2011 Sportage is roughly $24,000.
Watch Bradley check out the tech available on two amazingly affordable rides: the 2011 Nissan Juke and Ford Fiesta.