Some incredible updates and surprising prices. Let’s start with what is coming free.

For 2011 MINI is adding two one time options to the standard feature list. Both HD radio and Sirius satellite radio are now both standard for all 2011 MINI models. Previously, these features were $500 options (each). And yes, MINI will still include a one-year subscription for Sirius. HD Radio has no additional costs.

But it gets better. MINI is adding the highly anticipated MINI Connect across the range. That means MINI will have three audio options in 2011. Standard will be a new version of Boost CD with the new radio controls and HD Radio and Sirius already installed. Bluetooth (6ND) and Comfort Bluetooth (6NE) are still available individually.

Up next is the 6NM, MINI Connected, an option that allows your iPhone to connect the outside world to your MINI. The option adds a new 6.5” hi-resolution screen (the same as on the 2011 Nav system), Comfort Bluetooth (6NE) with Smartphone prep (6NF), a Combox control box (interface the iPhone with the car), Voice recognition (620), and a joystick controller to access all features just as the MINI Navigation uses. Currently, only the iPhone is supported, but the Android and Blackberry Smartphones are being planned as well for a later launch.

MINI USA is pricing Connect rather aggressively at $1,000. Not bad considering that you get Comfort Bluetooth with armrest and Smartphone prep (a $750 + $100 value) in the package. That means you are getting all MINI Connected features, the hi-res screen with joystick controller and full iPhone connectivity for only $150 more.

Now let’s take a close look at what MINI Connect really is. First off the system has the ability to control the music in your iPhone or iPods music library and play it through the audio system. Accessing all your music on the screen is so much easier now because you’ll be able to search by artist, genre and so forth.

Also, you can disconnect your iPhone or iPod from the cable and still listen to your music via Bluetooth wirelessly. This means you can literally walk away from the car and control your music with your iPhone from 20 feet away. And with the new system, the only cable you need is the standard iPhone cable that came from Apple.

Diving deeper into MINI Connected’s online functions, let’s take a look at what can come through to your car. A audio feature called Webradio allows you to search for radio stations around the world by country, genre and so forth. From there just select the station and it’s streamed into the car.

You can also access RSS feeds (like MotoringFile’s for instance) with MINI Connect. Simply select playback and voice recognition will read out the text to you and continue on beyond what you see, playing back the entire article. While stopped, you can also read the whole news article.

The much maligned Mission Control is also a part of MINI Connected and features over 3,500 sayings. You can pick and choose what you want to hear and adjust the “enthusiasm level” by selecting your driving theme. In addition, the upgraded system will have a “MINIMALISM” Analyzer that gives you real-time hints for optimum fuel efficiency. Perhaps the most important feature of Mission Control? You can turn it off.

Another new feature is Dynamic Music. It allows you to choose from several beats and based on your driving conditions, can increase or decrease the intensity and rhythm, allowing you to literally create your own track while driving.

Also incorporated is Google Local Search. Here, you can search for common items such as restaurants, fuel stations and even post offices by location, type and even business name. When a result is found you can select it and if they have a phone number and address listed online, Google will display it right in your car.

And if you are a Facebook and Twitter fan, you can read recent posts just like the news feeds where limited text is shown while driving, but can be played back to you thanks to text-to-voice technology. If you are stopped, then you can read more. If you need to respond, MINI Connected can help you post with pre-populated responses based on information that it knows. For instance, you can simply choose from several sentences that will include things like temperature and vehicle speed. And if you have NAV, MINI Connected can even include your destination and current location. You could post something like this with just one twist and one click- “Hey guys, it’s 3:00 PM and I’m in my MINI driving Southbound to Main Street on this warm 74 degree day.”

Lastly, there’s option 7L5, MINI Connected with Navigation that also features Real Time Traffic Information. The new NAV system uses an internal solid state memory so DVDs are not needed. Maps can be updated through a USB port in the glovebox. Best part? It’s going to be only $1,750, which is cheaper than last year, but adds everything mentioned above with MINI Connected.

In all these may just be some of the most impressive features of the 2011 LCI and yet more reasons to wait for the 2011 model year.

The best part? 2011 ordering is officially underway at your dealer. The updated configurator won’t go live until August but your dealer has production slots and all information needed to start order 2011s