I love EVs. While I’m still a little caution when considering their sometimes dubious environmental credentials, the drive fantastically! I love the torque. I love not having to mess about at the servo. I love how easy and cheap they are to service. I’m a huge fan… but I’m not ready for an EV to be my only car. I drive too many country miles and tow too much to be confident of getting to where I need to go, no matter the distance or access to fast chargers.
I think a lot of people are in the same boat, and this is why I am predicting a huge shake up in the way we buy cars. In the not so distant future I can see a lot of us choosing an EV for the daily commute, freeing up choices around the family’s second car. If you can afford it, you might be supplementing a Tesla or Volvo EV with an equally nice second car but for many of us I think this won’t be the case. With the rise of cheap EVs, like BYD and MG, I can see a lot of suburban garages filled with an economy EV, for the commute, while the space is shared with ever more niche second cars. This might take the shape of a classic car, or something sporty, like an MX-5, or something altogether different, like this Nissan Patrol or Hyundai Staria.
Both the Patrol, with its epic off-road performance and massive towing potential, or the Staria, with its acres of space and family comfort, are, in their own way, hugely niche. Neither make sense as daily commuters or for just ducking down to the shops but, as second cars, they start to come into their own.
Nissan’s Patrol comes in at about $100k (a bit more for the TiL) and provides real ‘around-the-world’ ability. It’s a massive beast, drinks like a sailor on shore leave and the infotainment system is an antique, but the big ol’ thing is all-day comfortable and can easily accomodate seven people and their luggage. It also tows like a beast, unlike current EVs. Would you want a Patrol as your only car? God no, but it makes a lot of sense as a second car to an EV.
Moving to something completely different, but strangely satisfying, Hyundai’s Staria Highlander.
The Staria has spaceship looks, that can be polarising, but enough space to swing two cats! Coming in at under $70k for the fully loaded Highlander spec, the sweet spot of the range is the mid-spec Elite (around $63k). While the Staria can tow a very decent 2500kg, it does have a ridiculously low tow ball limit ruling out things like big caravans and horse floats.
The Staria’s real trump card is its ability to take a family on distant day trips in complete comfort while proving to be a very fun and engaging steer for the driver. Prior to testing the Staria I thought that a people-mover van was the LAST thing I needed. I now find myself constantly trying to justify a Staria in my life. Again, as a only car it is a nightmare.
It’s way, way too big and in carparks the rear axle pivot point seems to be miles behind the driver. But, as a second car, I picture day-long drives with the fam and regular weekends away. If you tick the diesel option, you even get reliable sub-10L/100km fuel consumption.
The Patrol can’t do what the Staria can do and the Staria can’t do what the Patrol can do. This really is an oranges and apples comparison but it is a comparison that proves one thing – the internal combustion engine isn’t dead, it’s just going to be different. Companies like Volvo have made a commitment to only sell EVs in Australia. That’s great news… for Volvo. I hope they do well. But there will still be plenty of opportunities for Nissan’s Patrol and Hyundai’s Staria in the future – they just won’t be commuting to and from work or school.