Five sweet and small SUVs

As Americans downsize their vehicles to get better fuel economy and fit on increasingly congested urban streets, automakers have met the demand with a range of small SUVs. Unlike the lumbering beasts of the '90s, these little SUVs use independent suspensions to improve ride comfort and new technologies to aggressively pursue better fuel economy. Versatile seating means these vehicles can seat five or haul large amounts of cargo.… Read more

The past week's unbeatable tech reviewed

Two little birds, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. One's name is Wayne Cunningham, the others is 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe. You can read all about their 4.5-star love affair, which resulted in the highest rating we've given to anything this week. But please know that unless you're rolling in cash, this is a recreational read only. This tech-friendly beauty (with built-in chair massage) costs $76,000.

For real, live, normal people, we've reviewed plenty more exciting and affordable tech, including Apple's latest OS X release, Mountain Lion. Jason Parker took a deep dive … Read more

BMW Gran Coupe review: A modern tech masterpiece

I am one of those traditionalists who believes a coupe should only have two doors, yet after driving the 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe, I don't care how many doors this sleek bit of German automotive engineering sports. The car is such an excellent example of tech used well that our staff could find very little worth criticizing.

In its various comfort settings, the 640i Gran Coupe cruises along in luxury, treating passengers to massage seats, fine materials in the cabin, and delicious sound quality from a Bang & Olufsen audio system. Push a couple of buttons, and suddenly … Read more

New iPhone connector threatens car compatibility

BMW started the trend in 2004, offering native integration between car and iPod. Now almost every new car sold has some method of plugging in an iPhone or iPod. This integration is very convenient for drivers, as they can select music from the device through a car's own stereo controls.

However, reports of a smaller, 19-pin connector for the iPhone 5, replacing the current 30-pin connector, may bork iPhone integration with car stereos. Short of getting a new car to match your shiny new iPhone, what is a driver to do?

The good news is that many cars, such as those from Ford, BMW, and Honda, use a standard USB port to connect to the existing white iPhone cable. The new 19-pin connector is likely to use the same sort of adapter cable as current iPhones and iPods, so should plug right in. However, those existing cars may not be able to decode the signal from the iPhone 5 and its connector, depending on how much Apple reengineers its interface.… Read more

BMW adding voice texting, 4G hot spot, new nav to cars

In recent years, BMW and Audi have emerged as technological juggernauts, pushing cutting-edge new cabin electronics in their cars. Today BMW announced a bundle of new features for its cars that trumps Audi in some ways, and plays catch-up in others.

The most obvious change we will see comes next year, with a new iDrive controller that BMW calls iDrive Touch. It uses the familiar dial/joystick hybrid on the console, and adds a touch pad to its top. With this touch pad, drivers can trace letters and numbers to input addresses into the navigation system. iDrive Touch also supports … Read more

The five most connected cars

You only need to look at a smartphone to realize the usefulness of an Internet connection in a car. And the advent of smartphones is playing a big part in getting automakers to integrate connected features. People used to looking up an address on a smartphone can now do it right in their car's dashboard, and save that address to the navigation system. Other apps that can come in handy on the road, as deemed by these automakers, bring up Internet radio, social networking, and dinner reservations.… Read more

BMW and Toyota to build fuel cell system, sports car together

First diesels and batteries, then fuel cells, and now a sports car architecture. BMW and Toyota announced today that they've signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to partner together to develop a range of fuel-efficient technologies, and a sports car.

This MOU builds upon one the two companies struck in December with BMW agreeing to provide Toyota with its 1.6- and 2-liter diesel engines to sell in European vehicles starting 2014, and Toyota helping BMW develop a next generation lithium-ion battery.

Under the new, closer partnership, BMW and Toyota will work together in four areas: powertrain electrification, lightweight … Read more

BMW and GM part ways on fuel cell research

Heightening speculation that BMW and Toyota are about to announce an expanded partnership involving fuel cell technology, the German automaker confirmed today that it is no longer talking with General Motors about a similar research arrangement, reported a Bloomberg article.

On Friday, BMW and Toyota will hold a press conference announcing the details of a closer working relationship. Last December the two companies penned an agreement that gave Toyota access to BMW's small diesel engines to sell in its European line up of vehicles, and in return, Toyota would help BMW play catch up in the hybrid market by … Read more

BMW and Toyota co-developing fuel cells

Toyota and BMW are expected to announce this week a closer working relationship that expands upon the one they struck last year.

In December 2011, the two companies announced that they'll be collaborating on fuel-efficient and alternative power-train vehicles, with BMW supplying small diesels to Toyota to power its cars sold in Europe. In return, the Japanese car manufacturer would help BMW with the development of next-generation lithium ion batteries.

However, the working relationship won't end there. BMW and Toyota also plan to pool resources on fuel cell technology, according to unconfirmed reports first published in the Nikkei … Read more

CNET Road Trip 2012: Geeking out on the West Coast

For the last seven years, I've had the chance to explore much of the United States (and Europe) as part of my annual CNET Road Trip project.

In the U.S., these trips have taken me through the Northeast, the Rocky Mountain region, the Southeast, the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest, and in each of those regions I've gone in search of stories, photos, and videos about some of the best geek-oriented destinations I can find.

Yet, despite those many long journeys along America's roadways, I've never explored CNET's own backdoor -- California. So this … Read more