Just because the average crossover sees more time on mall parking lot asphalt than on dirt doesn't mean that manufacturers have abandoned the great outdoors completely. It just means that crossovers designed to actually venture into the outdoors are mostly concept cars and limited editions. BMW hasn't been shy about releasing such concepts, including last year's X1 Concept K2 Powder Ride and the all-new Concept Active Tourer Outdoor.

While the X1 Powder Ride was based on an actual production car, the Concept Active Tourer Outdoor is a sort of niche limited edition version of another concept car. We don't anticipate it getting produced anytime soon.

BMW must have realized the Concept Active Tourer it showed at last fall's Paris Motor Show was a nice platform for an outdoor-specific concept, thanks to its Earth-friendly plug-in hybrid powertrain and hatchback engineering. Like the original Concept Active Tourer, the Outdoor uses a powertrain with a 1.5-liter TwinPower turbo engine up front and an eDrive motor system in back. The motor and engine work together to put out up to 190 hp. BMW says that the Outdoor combines sporty driving characteristics with an estimated 113 mpg imperial (94 mpg US) fuel economy. It can travel between 12 and 19 miles (19 - 30 km) on electric motor power alone.

Because the Concept Active Tourer Outdoor's lithium-ion battery is mounted below the load compartment floor, the concept offers plenty of space for passengers and gear. That space is put to use as a dual bike loading zone. The rear seats fold flat and a dual-bike carrier secures to the left wall of the trunk area, holding the bikes inside the car and eliminating some of the hassles of mounting them to the roof, trunk or hitch. The bikes' front wheels are removed and stored on a separate mount on the back of the folded rear right seat.

The bike carrier's hardware includes sliding rails and a pivoting arm that allows it to double as a sort of bike stand, holding the bikes for repair and assembly. A hidden storage compartment in the load area floor holds the bicycle saddles (which must be taken off for loading), bike tools and parts. The compartment's cover doubles as a seat or step. When the bicycle carrier is not in use, it stores in the side structure of the car or the load compartment floor.

Giving potential Concept Active Tourer Outdoor drivers one more incentive to get outside, BMW worked with the Austrian Tyrol tourist board to develop an integrated "Heart of the Alps" route guide. The guide leverages BMW's ConnectedDrive technology to outline routes and activities throughout the Seefeld, Ötztal and Zillertal regions. The detailed suggested routes have directions, points of interest, activities, and lodging and dining information.

To add a little extra outdoor legitimacy to the new concept, BMW debuts it not at an international auto show or event, but at the OutDoor Friedrichshafen show, where it's on display amid a sea of tents, hiking boots and outdoor clothes.

BMW doesn't mention any intentions of building the Concept Active Tourer Outdoor, or the hatchback bicycle carrier system. It does say that the car "offers a preview of drive variants that promise to feature in compact class vehicles in the future," so we assume its particular version of plug-in hybrid hardware will make it into production. The "Heart of the Alps" tour guide is also real and can be accessed at summerdrive-tirol.com.

Bike-toting car concepts have been rather fashionable of late. Hyundai revealed the Veloster C3 Roll Top in LA last year, and Smart proved that you can carry bikes even in a tiny two-seater.

Source: BMW