The 2021 Toyota Mirai Deserves More Than A Little Consideration

Illustration for article titled The 2021 Toyota Mirai Deserves More Than A Little Consideration
Photo: Toyota

We’ve already mostly seen the second-generation Toyota Mirai, but now we know most of its features, too. It has a fancier trim for the first time and is, in my mind, very much a looker with its updated styling, though I know there are still a lot of Mirai skeptics out there.

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The Mirai, of course, is a hydrogen fuel cell electric car, which means you have to live near one of the 46 hydrogen refueling stations in the United States 43 of which are in the state of California, with Hawaii, Connecticut and South Carolina containing the others for it to be practical to own one. If you’re not a Californian, you’re probably not much interested in the Mirai and for good reason.

If you do live in California, however, I would argue that the Mirai at least deserves a good look. And the second-generation Mirai is the fanciest one yet. Toyota’s Monday press release detailing the Mirai’s features was notable for one thing: It hardly mentions the Mirai’s powertrain at all. That’s because the 2021 Mirai is about its safety features and all of the features that aren’t the powertrain. The 2021 Mirai is about Toyota making its hydrogen fuel cell electric car less of an oddity and more just a regular car.

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The two trims are called XLE and Limited. Here are the primary differences:

The XLE grade includes dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, manual rear seat sunshades and power-folding mirrors with puddle lights.

The Limited grade comes standard with a color Head-Up Display (HUD) with speedometer and navigation, three-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, and a rear touchscreen control panel with climate control function, rear sunshade toggle, audio controls. A Bird’s Eye View Camera also comes standard on Limited grades, while available on XLE. The Limited grade also gets standard Intelligent Park Assist and a dual-fixed panoramic moonroof with power sliding shade.

Every Mirai, meanwhile, will get Toyota’s suite of safety features, including its automatic emergency braking system which Toyota says can also detect cyclists and pedestrians in certain conditions. There’s also adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams, and an interesting sounding lane changing system.

Mirai comes equipped with Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), which can be activated above 30 mph and is designed to perform vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls down to 0 mph and resume from a stop. DRCC also includes a new feature that allows for smoother overtaking of slower vehicles. If traveling behind a vehicle traveling slower than the preset speed, once the driver engages the turn signal with steering input the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration in preparation for changing lanes; after changing lanes, the vehicle will continue acceleration until it reaches the preset driving speed.

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Every Mirai will also have a 12.3-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a wireless charging tray that is Qi-compatible for your phone. Toyota has not said what the range will be nor what the price will be, but I wouldn’t expect it to be much more than the $58,550 the 2020 model costs. I would expect a significant improvement on the current model’s 321-mile range, possibly to over 400 miles.

You are likely going to lease this thing anyway, with the current terms $2,499 down and $339 per month, with free fuel for the first three years, free rental of a different car for 21 days in the first three years, and free maintenance all unlikely to change significantly.

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At those lease prices, I could probably talk myself into giving the Mirai a go if I lived in California, especially given the $4,500 rebate California offers for buying or leasing a Mirai, and especially because the Mirai’s terms are cheaper than Mirai’s only competitors in America, the Honda Clarity and Hyundai Nexo. But more than price, it would be fun to participate in the grand experiment that is hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

All of that, however, hasn’t been much of a business case for this car, as Toyota moved just over 1,500 of them last year in the U.S. Which is to say I don’t quite fully understand the business case for the Mirai, but I am very happy it exists.

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News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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DISCUSSION

stopcrazypp
stopcrazypp

It hardly mentions the powertrain because it only has 180 hp, less than the 200+hp you get on a base model 4 cylinder Camry or in EV world even non-premium EVs like the Bolt, Leaf Plus, Kona EV, Niro EV etc. Forget about trying to match the premium segment that this car seems more aimed at with its updated styling.

Hydrogen cars are power limited given the fuel cell stack cost/size/weight scales with power output and although hydrogen is light, the tanks take up a lot of space, which limits the size of the buffer battery you can add to make up for the power deficit (something their own RAV4 Prime uses to get 302 hp combined with a 177 hp engine).

Even if you ignore station availability, the fuel cost is the killer, fuel costs as of 2019 is still estimated to average roughly $16 per kg (with a $13 per kg station mentioned as a low cost scenario). The previous Mirai was only able to move some units by throwing in $15k worth of hydrogen for 3 years (plus a boatload of other cash incentives up to $22.5k).

https://cafcp.org/content/cost-refill

As soon as that time was up, a lot of them appeared to have been dumped as it makes zero sense, given the fuel costs. Even the CPO ones that still come with a $15k fuel card are only selling for $15k (so car is pretty much “free”).

https://forum.leasehackr.com/t/free-certified-2017-toyota-mirai/289813/13