Mitsubishi has been teasing a new high-riding family car for quite some time, and it has finally arrived in the form of the slightly oddball Expander. The world is going crazy for four-wheel drives at the moment but Mitsubishi has taken a different path with its latest car, instead running with the strange MPV/SUV hybrid shape you see here.
The design team at Mitsubishi has been building up to the Expander for a while now. The eX made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2015, followed by the GT-PHEV in Paris last year. Both of them ran with similar (equally distinctive) faces, and both were powered by a plug-in hybrid setups with around 400 km (248 mi) of range.
Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, the reality doesn't match the precedent set by those two concepts on a number of fronts. First up, power doesn't come from a forward-looking plug-in hybrid setup. Instead, Mitsubishi has fitted a petrol four-cylinder engine, mated with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic.
At least it still has the same raised ride height as the concepts. Mitsubishi claims 205 mm (8 inches) of ground clearance – just 10 mm (0.4 in) short of the Toyota Fortuner, and higher than SUVs like the Ford Escape. The Expander isn't the first car to run with a raised-ride people-mover body – Renault tried the same thing with the Espace, and Mitsubishi vans have been available in Space Gear trim since the '80s – but examples are few and far between.
There are a few benefits to the van-style roofline on the Expander. It should have space for seven adults and their luggage inside, unlike the dwarf-sized third row accommodation you get in most family four-wheel drives, and Mitsubishi also says all seven passengers will have "generous head clearance."
You might have noticed a distinct lack of styling talk in this article so far. That's because, to our eyes, it looks like one of those creatures scientists are digging up from the deepest sea trenches. Blame the Dynamic Shield grille and split head/fog light treatment, which just make the whole nose look bloated and messy. With slabby sides and an awkward rear end, the whole car is far uglier than the distinctive concepts preceding it.
The Expander is making its debut at the Indonesia International Auto Show.
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