As brands equip their cars with the latest tech, there was a strong contrast between the 3 Series' and the Alfa's approach. The BMW uses a virtual assistant that's activated by simply saying, "Hey, BMW." And you can ask for anything—from directions to your destination to help finding a nearby parking spot. You can use your smartphone to unlock and start the 3 Series, and it also does a great job parking itself in parallel or perpendicular spots with the touch of a button. Gesture controls can change the audio system's volume or skip or repeat a song.
Our Alfa, on the other hand, doesn't have any of these technologies, though that's not a deal breaker. "The infotainment is also decidedly low-tech—but really, it offers everything I need," Powell said. Given that the Alfa arrived a couple of years earlier than the 3 Series, its technology isn't as advanced as BMW's—you still have to park it manually and will have to carry the key in your pocket.
With the Wi-Fi hot spot, the 3 Series lets you use Apple CarPlay wirelessly, though there were a couple of times when my iPhone had trouble connecting to the system, leaving me with no CarPlay. On the other hand, you'll need a USB cord to use CarPlay in the Alfa, though it can be complicated to use given the lack of a touchscreen.