by Jay Traugott
The Toyota Mirai is a potentially groundbreaking car that gives a taste of the future, the way they first Prius was many years ago. It's one of the first commercially available hydrogen-powered cars on the market, providing an alternative to electric and hybrid vehicles. The Mirai has a distinct, almost futuristic look and feel to it, but unfortunately, it is only sold in California because none of the other states offer hydrogen refilling stations. There is only one model in the range so options to customize the platform are very limited. There only real hydrogen car rivals are the Honda Clarity and forthcoming Hyundai Nexo, making the Mirai one of few that offer the green efficiency of hydrogen with the convenience of a five-minute refill.
The 2017 Mirai got a Wi-Fi hotspot and Destination Assist Connect. The 2018 version gained an updated wireless phone charger and two more USB ports.
There is only one model in the Mirai range and it has an MSRP of $58,365 excluding any tax, registration, and licensing fees. It is eligible for a $5,000 California rebate, and HOV sticker. Toyota also offers to pay $15,000 over three years towards the refueling costs.
See trim levels and configurations:
|Fuel Cell EV||
Single Speed Automatic
The Mirai feels and drives very much like the Prius with which it shares a platform. There's smooth and seamless acceleration which is sufficient for a car of this size. The suspension has been tuned for comfort and definitely succeeds in that department. Its soft suspension feels comfortable but can betray the Mirai's weight when cornering fast, where body lean is common, and where the low-drag tires don't exactly offer high levels of grip.
Steering feels direct but doesn't automatically return to center, which is apparently a solution to improve the economy but can also be irritating at times. Braking can also be a bit irritating because it has two stages. The first stage engages the regenerative braking but doesn't slow the Mirai tremendously. It takes firmer pressure on the pedal to eventually get the car to stop by engaging friction braking, but the changeover is inconsistent and unnatural in feel.
Overall the Mirai is a pleasant place to spend a long journey because the cabin is almost silent and the seats are comfortable and supportive. The futuristic and interior make Mirai feel unique, but considering its price, could be a bit more upmarket.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
Deciding whether Mirai is a good car or not depends on your expectations. Its main purpose is an introduction to the world of hydrogen-powered cars, and as a first-generation car in that category, it performs admirably. It has fair performance and gives occupants a safe and comfortable ride in its unique interior. Fuel economy is one of the priorities of Mirai, and in this respect, it is deeply impressive.
The biggest downside of owning a Mirai is that it is only viable near a hydrogen station network. Other than that, the styling, like an early Prius, is divisive. Other drawbacks are that it can only seat four people and has average trunk space. Of course, the price tag of almost $60,000 is hugely prohibitive.
Toyota's Mirai is a good car only if it's used in California by somebody who wants something truly unique and groundbreaking while giving up certain practicalities.
With only one model in the range, there isn't really any choice. It has a hydrogen-powered fuel cell, which powers an electric motor, and makes 153 hp. Fortunately, the base model is loaded with features to make it competitive. Some of the standard features include a JBL premium audio system with 11 speakers including a subwoofer, seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Entune, USB and AUX ports, and a wireless charger. It also has heated front and rear seats, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, push-button start, as well as lane-change assist, blind-spot monitoring, and lane departure warning.
|Toyota Mirai||182 hp||76/71 mpg||$49,500|
|Toyota Prius||121 hp||58/53 mpg||$25,075|
|Honda Clarity Fuel Cell||174 hp||68/67 mpg||$58,490|
The original Prius has a lot in common with the Mirai. It was groundbreaking at the time and a signal of intent from Toyota of taking a new approach to how cars should be. It also had awkward styling just like the Mirai. Over the years it has been refined, and hopefully, the Mirai will also get to that stage at some point. Honestly, both the current Prius and the Mirai have similarly strange styling that might be too much for some people. The Prius has fuel economy estimates of 50/54/52 mpg while the Mirai has numbers of 67/67/67 mpg, which puts it in another league. When it comes to performance, Mirai also wins with an output of 153 hp compared to the Prius's 121 hp. The Prius also has a seating capacity for five, with the Mirai seating only four. The Mirai has many features, but can only be chosen above the Prius if it will be used in California where there are hydrogen stations. For a car that has no constraints and can be used anywhere, the Prius is better.
The Honda Clarity is the only direct competitor to the Mirai currently on sale. They are both hydrogen-powered midsize sedans with strange styling, that can only be used in California. One of the main differences is that the Toyota is available for sale, while the Honda is only available as a leasing option. The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell makes 174 hp compared to the Mirai's 153 hp, and also has a longer range of 360 miles compared to the 312 miles of the Mirai. The Honda also has a slightly better fuel economy of 69/67/68 mpg, while the Mirai gets 67/67/67 mpg. The Clarity can also fit five occupants, while the Mirai is restricted to only four. The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is a better car than the Toyota Mirai, but can only be leased, and not bought, which could be a deal-breaker for some.
The most popular competitors of 2018 Toyota Mirai: