More than anything, it's the Mirai's powertrain that makes it unique. It's an EV, but the electric motor is powered by a fuel cell instead of batteries. The power is sent to the rear wheels to make the Mirai feel more engaging to drive. Driving it, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The Mirai isn't a performance car, but being RWD gives Toyota a unique selling point for those that enjoy driving. It's something salespeople can use as ammunition against the Honda Clarity and Hyundai Nexo, both of which are available in FWD only.
In this application, electricity doesn't mean fast in a straight line. The electric motor produces 182 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. That figure is on the low side, given the curb weight, so Toyota also includes an additional 1.24 kWh battery to fill in the power gaps. It's most noticeable from a standing start. Still, it's not fast or even brisk. Toyota claims a 0 to 60 mph time of 9.2 seconds, but we're convinced it's nearer seven seconds than ten. Toyota does not provide top speed or towing capacity figures, but we can tell you it'll cruise well over the legal limit on the freeway.
The gearbox is a primary one-speed direct drive to the rear wheels. The engine is more complex, as it's basically a mini hydrogen laboratory. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the world, and it's pumped into the Mirai's fuel tank in liquid form. The fuel cell splits the electrons from the hydrogen atoms, and the former is used to power the electric motor. The latter is combined with oxygen and creates water. It's not just the cleanest means of propulsion but also the most energy-efficient.
The average ICE car has an efficiency rating of around 20%, while this system is roughly 60% efficient. This means an ICE car uses only 20% of the energy available in the fuel, with the rest being lost in the internal combustion process. While this is all very interesting, the important thing is how the Mirai drives and how far it will go on a tank. The good news is that it's as smooth as any other electric car we've driven and a tank of hydrogen will generally go as far or further than your average four-cylinder engined car.
|Toyota Mirai Trims||Toyota Mirai Engines||Toyota Mirai Horsepower||Toyota Mirai Transmissions||Toyota Mirai Drivetrains||Toyota Mirai MPG/MPGE||Toyota Mirai Range|
|XLE Fuel Cell EV||Hydrogen Fuel Cell||182 hp||Single Speed Automatic||RWD||74 MPG||402 miles|
|Limited Fuel Cell EV||Hydrogen Fuel Cell||182 hp||Single Speed Automatic||RWD||65 MPG||357 miles|
There's a lot to unpack in this segment, starting with the basic gas mileage figures. Toyota claims 76/71/74 MPGe city/highway/combined for the XLE and 67/64/65 MPGe for the Limited trim. That's better than the most frugal Hyundai Nexo (65/58/61 MPGe) and the older Honda Clarity (68/67/68 MPGe), as far as entry-level trim is concerned.
As standard, the Mirai has a 31.3-gallon tank, which Toyota says is suitable for a range of 402 miles in XLE trim and 357 miles in Limited trim. In reality, that will fluctuate with hot and cold weather and the type of roads traveled. We averaged around 350 miles per tank across two fill-ups.
Unlike other electric vehicles that need to be charged, which need at least 20 minutes to fill enough of the battery to drive, the Mirai's tank is filled the old-school way in just five minutes - once you've figured out how it works, anyway. It's not that it's difficult, but you have to make sure the plug fits snugly when starting and be prepared to give it a sharp tug to release afterward, otherwise you start looking a bit silly as more Mirais pull up behind and wait to use the pump.
It's not a difficult process, but there is a big downside. The hydrogen fueling network in California is poor. It looks mighty impressive on a map, with locations scattered all around the big cities. But once you remove the locations that are empty, under construction, or awaiting approval, the tally drops dramatically. Talking to actual owners at the pumps in Orange County, we learned it's not uncommon for pumps to run out of hydrogen to sell or simply not be working. This is the single biggest chink in the Mirai's armor, but Toyota makes ownership easier with the new model.
Toyota's first thing to make ownership more alluring is a $15,000 fuel credit. For some, that's worth driving a few miles out of your way to brim the tank. And if you want to leave the state, Toyota provides 21 days of complimentary vehicle rental.
|Toyota Mirai Trims||XLE Fuel Cell EV||Limited Fuel Cell EV|
|Toyota Mirai Tank size||9.6 gal.||9.6 gal.|
|Toyota Mirai Fuel Economy (Cty/Hwy)||76/71||67/64|
|Toyota Mirai Hybrid Battery Capacity||1.24 kWh||1.24 kWh|