For Sale By:Dealer
Exterior Color: Gray
Interior Color: Gray
Number of Cylinders: 6
Action Nissan: Nashville, Tennessee, United States
In the past, if an automaker did something wrong, they were usually prosecuted by the US government through something called the TREAD Act. Short for Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, it basically requires automakers to report recalls in other countries, along with any and all serious injuries or deaths, to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Failing to report or attempting to conceal anything when there's been a death or serious injury constitutes a criminal liability. The idea is that this setup puts the onus on manufacturers to keep NHTSA apprised of safety related issues before they become a problem in the US, thereby allowing the regulator to better protect consumers.
In theory, it sounds like a relatively airtight set of rules for dealing with misbehaving automakers. That didn't stop the US Department of Justice from ignoring TREAD in its prosecution of Toyota's handling of the unintended acceleration recall, though. The result of this new approach, which charged Toyota with wire fraud, was a $1.2 billion settlement. Now, the wire-fraud approach could be used for the expected case between the US government and General Motors, based on the statements of Attorney General Eric Holder, who specifically mentioned "similarly situated companies" when discussing Toyota.
In 2006, I bought a Scion xB (the super upright, first-generation one), and I always had this wild dream of turning the xBox into an aquarium after it had run its course in my personal test fleet. Long story short, that never happened. But apparently the folks at Toyota got wind of my idea - only, well, this isn't exactly what I had in mind.
Let's just start at the beginning here. This is a 2014 Toyota Highlander - you know, the redesigned one that bowed in New York earlier this year. I haven't driven it yet, but I'm sure it's plenty nice and will appeal to all sorts of families. Families with kids. Kids who like cartoons. Cartoons like Spongebob Squarepants.
Which brings me to our next talking point: the collaboration between Toyota and Nickelodeon for the Spongebob-themed wrap that covers every inch of this Highlander. This isn't the first time we've seen the yellow cartoon sponge on a Highlander - Toyota unveiled a differently wrapped version earlier this year - but this one features more of an aquatic, under-the-sea sort of theme. Perfect, considering the main point of this crossover's reason for being at SEMA.
Popular Science has named the winners in its Best of What's New awards, the victors coming in the categories of aerospace, automotive, engineering, entertainment, gadgets, green, hardware, health, home, recreation, security and software. The automotive category did not go wanting for lauded advancements:
Tesla Model S: the Grand Award winner for being "the standard by which all future electric vehicles will be measured."
BMW 328i: it's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gets called out for being more powerful and frugal than the six-cylinder it replaces.