Toyota Mirai review roundup: Toyota gambles on hydrogen power

The Toyota Mirai, announced last Thursday, is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and emits only water vapor. A few testers have driven the Toyota Mirai, and most have positive things to say about the car.

Eugene Hoshiko/AP
The Toyota Mirai emits only water vapor when it's driven. Here, the fuel-cell vehicle is displayed after its unveiling in Tokyo on November 18.

Toyota made waves in 2000 with the hybrid Prius, which went on to become the world’s best-selling hybrid vehicle. Now, with the unveiling of the Mirai sedan on Tuesday, Toyota is moving in an even greener direction. The company says the Mirai will be able to travel 300 miles on a full tank, and that it only takes five minutes to top off with hydrogen. Instead of greenhouse gases, the Mirai will emit only water vapor as it’s driven.

Here’s the catch: right now there are only 13 hydrogen stations in the US, so the Mirai represents a gamble that hydrogen fuel cell technology will take off commercially in the next few years.

Toyota has been allowing reviewers to test drive the Japanese version of the Mirai (the US model won’t launch until the second half of 2015) around downtown Los Angeles, and early reviews are overwhelmingly positive: the car is quiet, comfortable, and incredibly fuel-efficient, if a bit odd-looking. If fuel station infrastructure takes off, Toyota might even be able to replicate the success it had with the Prius. (Toyota is trying to get the ball rolling by subsidizing hydrogen stations in California and New England; it hopes to have at least 48 stations in California by the end of 2016.)

Chris Ziegler of The Verge describes his experience driving the Mirai as “a totally drama-free experience.” The car’s acceleration and handling aren’t anything special, he reports, but the interior is luxurious and extremely quiet (both because of cabin insulation, and because the Mirai is an electric vehicle). The cabin includes a control panel in the rear armrest to heat the car’s seats, several color displays, and “swoopy” dashboard panels. “If you like sitting in a Prius,” Ziegler concludes, “you'd love sitting in a Mirai.”

Susan Carpenter at the Orange County Register drove the Mirai past one of the handful of existing charging stations and reports that Toyota’s five-minute charging figure is accurate. She adds that “the weight of its fuel cell stack is centered and low, so it didn’t handle like a sled. That said, I was aware of its weight in the form of a solid ride that felt planted and responsive enough in the corners.” Carpenter also notes that the Mirai can be driven in either of two modes – Eco and Power. The Eco mode makes the car feel a little sluggish, she reports, but may be worth it for the added fuel efficiency.

Though the car runs on two tanks of compressed hydrogen – a potentially explosive scenario – Toyota has engineered the Mirai to minimize danger. The fuel tanks themselves are reinforced with Kevlar, and company engineers have even fired bullets into the tanks without rupturing them.

The biggest challenge facing the Mirai right now is the lack of fueling stations – but if hydrogen technology catches on, the Mirai could be a hit for Toyota. The car will cost $57,500 (although buyers will get an $8,000 tax credit, and California drivers will get an additional $5,000 rebate) and 300 will be available in the US and Europe next year.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Toyota Mirai review roundup: Toyota gambles on hydrogen power
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today