Drive Type: Manual
Model: Beetle - Classic
Exterior Color: Red
Interior Color: Black
Clarklake, Michigan, United States
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has revealed its annual list of Top Safety Picks, an award that highlights automobiles it says offer "superior crash protection." A new and still more significant award, the Top Safety Pick+ honor, is given to those vehicles that earn good ratings for occupant protection in four out of five areas of measure. And while some 117 vehicles were given the TSP seal of approval for 2013, just 13 passed muster for TSP+.
To be fair, IIHS only evaluated 29 vehicles with its new testing procedures for TSP+ (we'd expect that the number of qualified cars will rise substantially for 2014). Luxury and Near Luxury midsize cars were the first groups evaluated, followed by midsizers in the Moderately Priced Cars category - unsurprisingly, it's only midsize cars that you'll find among the class this year.
Only two luxury sedans made the list of 13 for 2013: the Acura TL and Volvo S60. The other 11 cars on the list included entries from domestic, Japanese and German car makers: Dodge Avenger, Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord (sedan and coupe), Kia Optima (but not its close kin, the Hyundai Sonata, strangely), Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy and Outback, Suzuki Kizashi and the Volkswagen Passat all made the grade.
America's minivan wolfpack has just gotten smaller by one. According to Automotive News, Volkswagen officials have confirmed what we've suspected for some time - the Routan is dead. Essentially a lightly reworked version of the Dodge Grand Caravan, the Routan actually hasn't been rolling off of Chrysler's Windsor, Ontario production line at all this year, but VW had yet to confirm its discontinuation. However, Jonathan Browning, CEO of VW America, has reportedly admitted that the Routan is being axed, with remaining units expected to be funneled into corporate functions for "internal purposes."
The move isn't unexpected - the Routan has never been a big seller, with just 57,650 examples moved since sales began in 2008 - peak yearly sales totaled under 16,000 units, and that was back in 2010. And while many have talked of the minivan segment shrinking, Automotive News points out that the segment actually grew 14 percent last year to 597,118 units, though it should be noted that most segments have been on sales upticks as the US economy chugs out of its recession.
So, is volume-crazy Volkswagen prepared to pass on large family vehicle sales? Probably not - the German automaker has signaled that it plans to build a three-row crossover in North America soon, and we wouldn't be surprised if it looks an awful lot like the Crossblue Concept from January's Detroit Auto Show - minus the fancy plug-in diesel powertrain.
Volkswagen's array of performance-oriented Golfs keeps getting bigger and bigger. What started with the GTI has since grown to include the diesel GTD, the hybrid GTE and the most powerful Golf R. But the additions haven't all come down to powertain. There's been cabrio versions of the GTI and Golf R as well, but before all is said and done, there will be one more bodystyle to join the lineup.
That, according to these latest spy shots, would be the Golf R Variant. For those unfamiliar, Variant is what Volkswagen calls the wagon version of the Golf (in some markets, anyway). It offers the Golf Variant with a variety of engines, but as the spy shots reveal, it is now working on bringing the Golf Variant and the Golf R together into one high-powered, long-roofed model.
The VW Golf R Variant would in all likelihood pack the same 2.0-liter turbo four as the hatchback, splitting 290 horsepower between all four wheels. Only in the wagon, it would offer that extra bit of utility. Of course there's no guarantee that Volkswagen would offer the Golf R Variant in the North American market, but considering that the Golf R hatchback will soon be joined in American showrooms by the Golf SpotWagen (as it's tipped to be called here) in place for the Jetta wagon, the possibility is definitely there.