Body Type:Pickup Truck
Exterior Color: Turkis
Interior Color: Gray
Trim: Type 2
Cab Type (For Trucks Only): Crew Cab
Drive Type: RWD
Bonney Lake, WA, 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.
According to a report in Autocar, Volkswagen might have more in mind for the XL1 than mining it for advances to grace the next-generation Golf. Aiming to fight the Honda FCEV due for public consumption next year, we're told VW executives have put a four-door, four-seater version of the XL1 - it could be called XL2 - on the drawing board. The impetus is said to come from the top, with VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch intent on staying in the deep end of "super-efficent vehicles."
Autocar suspects the necessary changes could raise the weight of the car from 1,749 pounds to 2,068 pounds, which would make it four pounds less than the 2,072-pound Up! we drove a few years ago. Crucially, however, the mag thinks the extra capacity wouldn't change the two-seater's 310-mile-per-gallon rating, with tech tweaks and the aerodynamic benefit of a longer car offsetting the weight. Speculation is that the back seats would be staggered like the fronts in order to maintain the XL1's overall profile.
We recently heard about another XL1 variant that's gone off the radar entirely, the Ducati-engined XLR that we thought we'd see at the Geneva Motor Show and that was said to be going into production, so this one could go the same way. The biggest hurdle to making such an idea a reality, though, could be the price: the current XL1 costs 110,000 euros ($146,116). If VW really is going to compete with the Honda FCEV and the Toyota FCV - $70,000 in Japan - that might be where it wants to start.
How does Audi plan to reach two million units in annual sales and pay for the 11 new models it's adding to its lineup - an expansion that may include models named SQ2, Q9 and F-Tron? By increasing its investment to 22 billion euros ($30.3 billion US) between now and 2018. That figure represents an increase of about 500 million euros over the previously planned outlay, according to a report by Automotive News, and that could be due to Audi wishing to goad the momentum that pushed it to 1.5 million annual sales two years ahead of schedule.
It's also about staving off the challenges from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Now that BMW has been able to turn some of its attention away from its "i" series of Megacity cars, it will reportedly spend more than planned in 2014 as it continues the rollout of ten all-new vehicles and 15 new-generation vehicles through the end of next year. Mercedes, having been dropped to third in the sales race, is preparing to add 13 new cars over the next six years.
Audi's money is going into technology, into product like the next-generation TT and the Q1 and production expansions and upgrades all over the world. The expenditure represents just under a fourth of Volkswagen's 84.2 billion-euro ($115.7 US) outlay devoted to taking the number-one global automaker title away from General Motors and Toyota by 2018.