2016 Toyota Mirai Review

The Future We Aren’t Ready For

2016 Toyota Mirai Review

The Toyota Mirai may not be the prettiest product to debut in November, but it presents the potential for a brighter future with the promise of cleaner air and less dependence on oil.

Here’s how the Mirai works in a nutshell: there are two tanks under the rear passenger seats that can be filled with hydrogen gas. The gas is sent through something called a hydrogen fuel cell stack that mixes oxygen with the hydrogen. That creates a reaction that generates electricity to charge a small battery that feeds an electric motor powering the front wheels. The combination of hydrogen and oxygen creates pure water, which is purged periodically. The rate is about 100 cubic centimeters per mile of travel. For perspective, you would need to drive almost five miles to generate enough water to fill a pint glass.

Driving the Mirai

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Like an electric car, the Mirai offers smooth acceleration and instant torque. Its powertrain makes 153 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, which is gives the Mirai a feeling of acceleration similar to pure electric cars. However, it tips the scales at over 4,000 lbs., which makes it feel boring but solid to drive. Steering is nicely weighted but like other Toyota models, very little feedback makes it from the road to your hands. Despite the disconnected steering, the Mirai has balanced handling because much of its weight is low and located near the center of the car.

Despite featuring regenerative braking, the Mirai’s braking feel isn’t aggressive like most electric cars. While other battery-powered cars feature braking systems that can bring the car to a stop without you touching the pedal, the Mirai doesn’t feature this disorienting feel.

See Also: Five Things You Need To Know About the 2016 Toyota Mirai

The Mirai is easy to get into and drive. You won’t need to be primed on the science kit under the hood. However, the cabin is overwhelming and tries too hard to push the idea that this is a futuristic vehicle. There are a too many screens, charts, graphs and buttons on the dashboard.

On the top center portion of the dash you’re presented with the speedometer, gear indicator and information about the Mirai’s powertrain. Below that is the navigation and infotainment screen, which is part of the standard equipment list. Look further down and the car’s unique gear selection lever sits beside the touch screen operated climate controls that are frankly more distracting than useful. Finally, low down on the center console, you’ll find other controls like heated seats and steering wheel. While it comes down to personal preference, I’m just not a fan of the dashboard layout. There’s too much to take in, too many buttons and too many screens. Often the future is demonstrated with a simplistic, minimalist design and the Mirai just doesn’t exhibit this trait.

In spite of its questionable interior design, the car is well appointed with soft touch materials and comfortable leatherette seats. There are also other high-tech standard features including blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning in addition to lane-collision warning and adaptive cruise control.

Paired to that puzzling interior is a unique exterior design. It combines the familiar teardrop shape of a Prius with a sharper, edgy design. Whether it’s pretty or not, the car stands out and commands attention.

The Big Picture

We’re used to the smell, sound and feeling of an internal combustion engine as it systematically transforms tiny explosions into directional movement. Electric cars are much newer to the market, but there’s a simplicity to them that’s as relatable as a remote-controlled toy car.

But internal combustion cars and electric cars have drawbacks: EVs have limited range and long recharge times, while internal combustion vehicles create polluting tailpipe emissions.

Hydrogen cars like the Mirai combine the benefits of both electric and gasoline powered cars and eliminates certain drawbacks of those current-generation products. It’s more environmentally friendly than gas powered cars and like an electric car it doesn’t pollute the air while driving. With a range of 300 miles, the Mirai isn’t as limited as even some of the most advanced electric cars. Unlike EVs, hydrogen cars can be refuelled in about five minutes at a pump much like a gas- or diesel-powered vehicle as long as you can find a pump.

The Fuelling Problem

Right now, California has 13 research hydrogen fuelling stations, nine public stations and an additional 18 that have been funded and are expected to be operational in the next few years. Toyota is helping to finance these operations, but it’s still a tiny percentage compared to the number of gas stations available in the state. Sure, there’s potential: the state of California also requires 33 percent of all hydrogen to be produced via renewable resources. But most companies are meeting this percentage by getting methane from a landfill or wastewater treatment plant and feeding it into a centralized steam methane-reforming facility. This methane is blended with natural gas, which is also methane, but a fossil fuel. What this all means is that we’re not yet ready for the real, sustainable future and may not get there without heavy government subsidization.

But the Mirai is exactly what the average consumer would want. It has solid on-the road performance, good range, quick refills and a unique look. It’s also fairly affordable coming in at $58,325 before any incentives and including destination. In California, that will drop to $45,325 after rebates.

Leasing is also an option at $499 per month for 36 months with $3,649 down at signing. Lease customers may be eligible for a $5,000 state rebate. Toyota will also cover the cost of hydrogen fuel for the first three years of ownership, although that’s partially because hydrogen fuelling isn’t simple. There isn’t yet an accurate way to measure and charge for it. While the car isn’t outlandishly expensive, it’s the fuel infrastructure that will be the most limiting factor for now.

The Verdict:

The term “hybrid” is practically synonymous with the Toyota Prius. That’s a big win for Toyota and a success that could be repeated with the Mirai as the face of hydrogen cars. While many of us aren’t going to be able to buy or live with a hydrogen car at the moment, the Mirai proves that Toyota has the right idea, but only if the rest of the world is ready.

  • Santos

    This is the ugliest car ever made. What was Toyota thinking?

  • ClubRacer

    All I can see is the Predator when I look at this car’s face.
    And then I hear Schwarzenegger’s voice, “you are one ugly motherfucker.”
    You said it Arnold.

  • and you are a bullshit

  • And you are an ugly BULLSHIT! What are YOU thinking?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  • YOUR REVIEW IS A BULLSHIT! THE MIRAI IS THE PRETTIEST CAR EVER!

  • Jamal

    Um… that thing looks crazy.. and not in a good way.

  • Honest Abe

    This thing has more of an up-hill battle ahead of it than the Volt or the Model S.

  • Jonny_Vancouver

    “Often the future is demonstrated with a simplistic, minimalist design and the Mirai just doesn’t exhibit this trait.”

  • Isend2C

    I want all electric cars to fail, while hydrogen is the best advancement in cars in a century. It’s just clearly makes so much more sense than normal EVs. You just fill it up and it goes further. No emissions and it doesn’t *have* to look dopey like this. I am steadfast in my belief that Hydrogen cars are the future.

  • Erocker

    Seems that the looks of a car is different to each beholder. I don’t find this car ugly but it is quite different. You can never tell it could be the look of the future.

  • Joe Cool

    I agree. With electricity we are trading burning gas in our cars for burning coal to make electricity and we still don’t have the battery technology where it needs to be to make electric cars practical. Fuel cells are the way to go but they still have to figure out how to make Hydrogen cheaply and then figure out how to get it to us cheaply. Then we will see a huge change in how we power our cars and homes.

  • Joe Cool

    Agreed. I do think however, that Toyota is probably going overboard with the styling as this is intended to show off technology and to do that it needs attention. Love it or hate it, this definitely gets attention. I don’t think they would get as much press if this looked like a standard Corolla or Camry.

  • tenaka500

    damn that is one UGLY looking car!

  • lee scott

    And you must think Rosanne Barr is hot. Fail.

  • lee scott

    Hey fucknut, enough.

  • AND YOU ARE A BULLSHIT BECAUSE EVs AND FCVs ARE THE FUTURE AND YOU WILL FAIL FOR ALL ETERNITY!!!!!!

  • Michael H

    Besides it’s looks there are obvious drawbacks. Lack of refueling centers is a big one. Another is the government subsidies inference. What that means is more taxes. Why not just use CNG power with a conventional engine in the vehicle rather than a HFC? Besides being far easier to implement, the emissions are far less than a gas powered vehicle. NOx is the only thing you really need to worry about and that can easily be controlled by rudimentary emissions equipment. Biodiesel is another possibility which can be done with a minimum of fuss.

  • Dakemesh

    If it makes a pint of water every five miles, they should make a reservoir with a little tap that could fill your water bottle at the end of your commute.

  • Lead Zeppelin

    From the front view it does look a lot like the Hindenburg.

  • sonny

    it’s fairly affordable only $58,000, hell I’ll buy 3 at that price . Talk about being totally clueless the guy who wrote this article must be a silver spooner . That being said this is one ugly fucking car .

  • Super_Kal

    Hey, enough of these on the road could solve California’s drought problem!

    Until we eventually start to deplete the atmosphere of oxygen, however….

    But maybe we can solve that by planting more trees and flowers!

    Who woulda thought that Toyota might bring us a renaissance of the sixties?

  • rjdriver

    Agreed. When did $58,000 become fairly affordable? And also agree about the looks. This thing has that, what I call, “Monster mouth” look on the front end that many of the new Lexus models share. Some may call it “aggressive” looking, but I have to go with the general consensus here, that it’s butt ugly.

  • LeeRP

    Not sure this is not common knowledge, but I do not know the answers. Does it over heat like a gas engine? Does it have a transmission, or gears? Does the fuel stack hold up like a modern gas engine? What is the replacement cost?

  • M

    If this car relies mostly on a rechargeable battery, then be prepared for the same problems and costs as you’ve had with hybridcars .

  • DJF

    Mike Strizki is the man behind the magic. He builds hydrogen refueling stations. He is the CTO of H/Cell Energy Corp. (HCCC). Toyota has so much faith in him, that they lent him a Mirai for several days in September 2015. He was showcasing the solar/hydrogen installation he built into the home of Alice DeTiberge in Pennington, NJ. Her’s is the first commercially produced solar to hydrogen energy powered property in the world. This technology is safe, proven & scalable.