2021 Toyota Mirai first drive assessment: Like a hydrogen-powered Lexus

Take off the Toyota badges and slap a giant ol’ spindle grille on its nostril, and this 2021 Mirai sedan may completely go for a Lexus. Inside and outside, the brand new Mirai has a degree of fashion and refinement you would not anticipate for a mass-market Toyota. And the Japanese automaker is hoping this premium focus might be sufficient to persuade individuals to present hydrogen fuel-cell energy a attempt.

“Mirai” means “future” in Japanese, which I assume is fairly acceptable, given the auto trade adage that not solely is hydrogen the gas of the longer term, it at all times might be. Certainly, with solely about 50 filling stations in California (full with considerably spotty reliability), hydrogen as a gas supply makes a ton of sense on paper, however remains to be out of attain for most folk. Even so, Toyota stays steadfast that this futuristic future will futurize into fruition and the large funding into glowing-up the Mirai is proof of the automaker’s dedication to hydrogen on a worldwide scale.

2021 Toyota Mirai: Sharp-lookin’ sedan with hydrogen energy
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For starters, simply take a look at this factor. So far as the design is worried, the Mirai went from worst to first like that (snaps fingers). Styling is subjective, natch, however I will quantify this updo and say the 2021 Mirai is strictly 6,243% higher trying than its predecessor, which was the ugliest automotive in the marketplace. 

Design comparisons to the Kia Stinger are usually not unwarranted, which is a praise in and of itself. Dimensionally, the Mirai is about the identical dimension as a Stinger — 195.Eight inches lengthy, 57.9 inches tall and 74.2 inches vast. However in contrast to the Kia, the Mirai is just not a hatchback; the battery and one of many hydrogen gas tanks are positioned beneath and behind the rear seat. Meaning there’s solely 9.6 cubic toes of cargo capability — roughly the identical because the rear compartment of a Porsche Cayman. In different phrases, pack mild, or simply throw your baggage on the spacious rear seats.

Talking of which, whereas all Mirais have a three-across bench within the again, the top-end Restricted has a big, fold-down heart console with a touchscreen that permits passengers to manage varied local weather management and audio capabilities. You already know, similar to what you’d discover in a Lexus.

The Mirai has one among Toyota’s finest interiors.


Total, the Mirai’s inside is nice. The SofTex seats are heated and cooled for each entrance and rear passengers, whereas the dashboard, door playing cards and heart console are lined with extra of this convincing faux-leather materials, making them comfortable and plush to the contact. All the Mirai’s buttons feel and look like they belong in a Lexus, apart from the silly little gear shifter, which seems and feels prefer it belongs in a last-generation Prius. Oh, and there isn’t any quantity knob, which I assumed we as an auto trade determined was a nasty thought.

Each Mirai will get a whole lot of cabin-tech, with an 8-inch digital gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen atop the middle stack. The onboard infotainment software program is similar as what you may discover in Toyotas like the brand new Highlander SUV, with a considerably cluttered dwelling display screen and many menus and submenus. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are normal, so that you’re higher off sticking with a type of. Each Mirai additionally comes with embedded navigation, a JBL premium audio system, Amazon Alexa compatibility, wi-fi gadget charging and Wi-Fi.

A complete bunch of driver-assistance tech comes normal, too, by the use of Toyota’s Security Sense 2.5 Plus suite. All Mirai fashions get pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with steering help, automated high-beam headlights, full-speed adaptive cruise management, site visitors signal recognition and one of the crucial aggressive lane-centering methods I’ve skilled in a very long time. (I could not flip it off rapidly sufficient.)


Toyota says it discovered rear-wheel drive to be the very best for packaging and effectivity. However no, the Mirai will not do a burnout. (I attempted. Twice.)

The Mirai’s rear-wheel-drive structure is shared with the bigger Lexus LS (humorous how that works). That is a change from this mannequin’s predecessor. Whereas swapping pushed axles from entrance to again might sound odd for a comparatively innocuous sedan just like the Mirai, Toyota says it investigated front- and all-wheel-drive layouts and located rear-drive to be the very best for packaging and effectivity. However no, the Mirai will not do a burnout. (I attempted. Twice.)

Science time: Three carbon-fiber-reinforced hydrogen tanks ship fuel right into a fuel-cell stack beneath the hood, which mixes with oxygen to supply electrical energy that powers a 1.24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery and synchronous electrical motor. All advised, the motor produces a most of 182 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque and the one byproduct of this fuel-cell energy is water, which sprays out of a tailpipe whilst you’re driving. You can even manually empty the water reserve by urgent the H2O button on the dashboard to the left of the gauge cluster. I am undecided why you’d ever do that your self when the automotive will do it robotically. Then once more, whereas testing a 2019 Mirai not too long ago, I did say to a buddy, “Hey, wanna see the automotive pee?” So, yeah.

The Mirai Restricted will get these snazzy 20-inch wheels.


Toyota says the bottom Mirai XLE has a spread of 402 miles, which represents a 30% enchancment over the previous automotive. The upper-end Restricted is rated at 357 miles attributable to its elevated weight and bigger wheels, however that is nonetheless a pleasant step up from the previous, ugly Mirai’s 312-mile score. For those who’d fairly speak about effectivity when it comes to miles per gallon equal, the Mirai XLE will get 74 MPGe mixed whereas the Restricted returns 65 MPGe. For the sake of comparability, a 2021 Volvo S60 plug-in hybrid is rated at 69 MPGe.

The Mirai XLE weighs in at 4,255 kilos, with the Restricted tipping the scales at 4,335. With solely 182 hp and 221 lb-ft of motivational power, the Mirai is not precisely fast. Toyota estimates a 9.2-second 0-to-60-mph time, which sounds about proper to me. Positive, you get the moment torque supply of an electrical motor, however that is nonetheless an entire lot of Mirai to maneuver round.

As soon as it is up and transferring, nevertheless, the Mirai is fairly good to drive. The steering is mild and imprecise (it is a Toyota), however the unbiased entrance and rear suspensions, in addition to the best 50:50 weight distribution, imply the Mirai is surprisingly competent on winding roads. These Lexus underpinnings shine when the Mirai is simply cruising on the freeway, leading to a buttery clean journey, even on my Restricted tester’s upsized 20-inch wheels with 245/45-series tires. The cabin is tremendous quiet always and that JBL sound system can simply drown out any bizarre fuel-cell drivetrain noise which may make its method into the cabin. I will not go as far as to name the Mirai sporty, even with these RWD bones, however once more, in case you advised me this was a Lexus, I might completely consider you.

If you will get behind hydrogen life, the Mirai is a compelling sedan.


Maybe it ought to simply be a Lexus, given how the 2021 Mirai is priced. With a beginning MSRP of $50,455 together with $955 for vacation spot, the brand new Mirai is greater than $9,000 cheaper than the previous mannequin. However that is nonetheless about as a lot as a brand new GS 350. Step as much as the Mirai Restricted and also you’re $66,955. Including in chrome wheels and a flowery paint alternative brings that top-end MSRP to $68,500.

After all, these numbers do not inform the complete story. While you purchase or lease a brand new Mirai, Toyota will throw in as a lot as $15,000 in free hydrogen gas. And do not forget concerning the $8,000 federal tax credit score, plus a further $4,500 from the state of California. That is an effective way to make a automotive just like the Mirai extra accessible to individuals who may be on the fence about taking the plunge on hydrogen life. And hey, if this entire fuel-cell factor does not pan out like Toyota hopes it is going to, simply shove a V6 beneath the hood and name this dangerous boy a Lexus.

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