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From the rear seat, you can control just about everything in the Audi A8. Photo: Audi

This week I am driving the luxurious 2019 Audi A8 L quattro, which is as delightful in the back seat as it is in the driver's seat.

Why it matters: The A8 is Audi's flagship, so it gets the latest technologies that will eventually filter down to other Audi models.

  • Unfortunately, it does not include the much-anticipated Traffic Jam Pilot, Audi's new Level 3 autonomy system.
  • Audi has shelved the system for now because of regulatory challenges in the U.S. and Europe.

Yes, but: This car's technology will still blow you away, though, like the predictive suspension that scans the road ahead to skip over potholes and the 4-wheel steering system that gives this 17-foot-long behemoth the turning radius of a nimble A4.

  • The interior is serene and inviting, with customized lighting and wood trim on the dash that retracts to reveal hidden air vents.
  • A new infotainment system, featuring 2 large touchscreens, is intuitive and responsive.

Rear-seat passengers can customize their experience using a smartphone-sized remote control that pops out of the rear center console, controlling everything from the deeply reclining seats and heated massaging footrest to the infotainment screens.

The intrigue: A8 is loaded with driver-assistance technology, even without the Level 3 system. New features include:

  • "Hands-on" traffic jam assist technology, which eases stress in stop-and-go traffic.
  • Intersection assist, which warns drivers of oncoming traffic when their view is obstructed.
  • Emergency assist, which detects if the driver is unresponsive and brings the car to a stop in its lane, turns on the hazard lights, and calls 911.

The bottom line: The A8 is a dream, but dreams can be expensive. The starting price is $83,800, but the loaded version I'm driving is $123,045.

Go deeper: See what else Joann has been driving

Go deeper

National Guard chief says it took 3 hours for Pentagon to grant Jan. 6 request

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, will testify Wednesday that it took three hours and 19 minutes for Pentagon leadership to approve a request for National Guard assistance during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, according to his prepared remarks.

Why it matters: The timeline over when National Guard requests were made and granted has been a key point of contention in congressional hearings examining the security failures surrounding the Capitol riots.

7 mins ago - World

International Criminal Court opens Israel-Palestine war crimes probe

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu has strongly objected to the investigation. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday announced her intention to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories since 2014.

Why it matters: The investigation is expected to consider possible war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the 2014 war in Gaza, as well as the construction of West Bank settlements by Israel. It could sharply increase tensions between Israel, which fiercely opposes the probe, and Palestinian leaders, who requested it.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
45 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Exxon says it's well-positioned amid investor pressure

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

ExxonMobil said Wednesday that its oil-and-gas development plans will create good returns even at modest oil prices as the company looks to win back investor confidence after several rocky years.

Driving the news: The company, just ahead of an investor presentation this morning, said its investments are designed to generate returns of over 30% and touted its spending reductions.