2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Hatchback

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Mitsubishi i-MiEV Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine .0 L -cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 1-speed Direct Drive
  • Horse Power Info is not yet available.
  • Fuel Economy 126/99 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

  • The electric-car segment gets its most affordable contender with the 2012 Mitsubishi i.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Excellent all-electric efficiency; affordable price; typically cheaper to power than gas-only models; crisp acceleration; quiet cabin.

  • Cons

    Shorter range than rivals; low-quality interior; tight cargo capacity for a hatchback; limited in-cabin storage.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Mitsubishi i is an all-new model.

Full 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Mitsubishi i is an all-new model.


For something supposedly killed back in the 1990s, the electric car is certainly exhibiting a lot of postmortem vitality. The newest spark of life for the electric car segment is the 2012 Mitsubishi i, a subcompact that Mitsubishi is positioning as the value-priced choice for an all-electric car.

By value, we're talking about a purchase price of a bit more than $20,000 once the $7,500 federal tax credit is factored in (residents of certain states qualify for other credits as well). Of course, you'll likely be springing for a 240-volt home charger as well, so there's some more expense. Still, the Nissan Leaf is the next most affordable 2012 full-electric model in the segment, and it offers a post-tax-credit starting price in the high $20Ks. The Mitsubishi i is also cheaper than plug-in hybrids like the Prius Plug-In and Chevrolet Volt.

Another plus is that this Mitsubishi i delivers a thoroughly agreeable time behind the wheel, with crisp acceleration, responsive handling and a smooth ride. Other than the muted whir of its electric motor, there's little to set it apart from any gas-only subcompact. It'll cost you less to charge the i than it would to pay for gas, but keep in mind that these potential savings take a hit in states with tiered electricity rates that increase cost as you use more juice.

One of the Mitsubishi i's primary drawbacks concerns its size. There's not a lot of in-cabin storage space, and the i offers the least amount of cargo capacity in its segment. Then there's the matter of range. With just 62 miles between no charge and a full charge, the Mitsubishi i is tethered by the shortest range in the electric-car segment. In comparison, the Leaf's range is 73 miles, while the 2013 Ford Focus Electric promises 85-100 miles.

As it runs out of juice, the i will need to be charged, and doing so reveals another of its shortcomings: longish charge time relative to some rivals. This Mitsu goes from no charge to full charge in 7 hours using a 240-volt home charging unit, and while this is competitive with the charge time required of the Nissan Leaf, it falls short relative to the Focus Electric's claimed 3-4 hours.

All things considered, the i strikes us as a pretty niche-oriented offering. If you can afford it, the Nissan Leaf is a more useful and upscale electric car overall. Green-focused buyers in this price range who have longer commutes (or those who live in apartments, since the Mitsu's home charging unit isn't an option in that situation) will want to check out the Toyota Prius C hybrid or the diesel-powered Volkswagen Golf TDI. Still, if it fits your way of life, the 2012 Mitsubishi i is an agreeable choice, and it will certainly satisfy those looking to enter the electric-car segment in the most affordable way.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Mitsubishi i is an all-electric four-door hatchback available in ES and SE trim levels.

Standard equipment on the ES includes 15-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, 50/50-split rear seats that fold and recline, an onboard recharging system with a 120-volt portable charging cable, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. Also included is a heated and height-adjustable driver seat, along with a remote system that pre-activates climate control and the charging timer.

SE models add 15-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, automatic headlights, special interior trim, upgraded seat fabric, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a passenger vanity mirror and an eight-speaker sound system.

Both trims are available with a Cold Zone package that adds a battery warmer and heated outside mirrors. ES models may be purchased with a Level 3 quick-charging port, while SE models are available with a Premium package that includes a hard-drive-based navigation system, Mitsubishi's Fuse hands-free link system, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a quick-charging port.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Mitsubishi i is powered by a 49-kilowatt electric motor (66 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque) fed by a lithium-ion battery pack with peak storage of 16 kWh.

Driving range is an EPA-estimated 62 miles per charge, but real-world range can be significantly less, depending on driving style, traffic conditions, cruising speed, geography (uphill slopes will reduce range since the motor works harder) and battery age. In fact, even ambient temperature can affect cruising range, since extreme temperatures are detrimental to battery performance. The EPA has given the i an excellent energy efficiency equivalent rating (MPGe) of 126 mpg city/99 mpg highway and 112 mpg combined.


The 2012 Mitsubishi i comes standard with antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Mitsubishi i's tall body offers up ample headroom, and while most people should find front legroom comfortable enough, keep in mind that it trails that of the Leaf, Focus Electric and Golf TDI. Rear legroom is a bit tight and the backseats are flat and not terribly supportive. With just 13.2 cubic feet of space behind the backseats, the i comes up short in cargo capacity relative to its rivals, though there's enough room back there to squeeze in golf clubs or a standard-sized suitcase. The picture improves with the rear seats folded; cargo capacity expands to a healthy 50.4 cubic feet.

Many hybrids and electric cars feature cabins loaded with cutting-edge style and tech, but the i isn't one of them. Hard plastics abound, and the plain, no-nonsense presentation of its dash and controls is more in keeping with that of your typical bargain-priced subcompact than anything else. At the same time, standard equipment includes a remote system that allows you to pre-activate the car's climate control and charging timer.

Driving Impressions

Like all electric cars, the 2012 Mitsubishi i boasts a quiet cabin, which is the byproduct of an absence of recurring explosions from an internal combustion engine; the only sound from the electric motor is a whir that kicks in when you go heavy on the throttle. There's some wind, tire and road noise at higher speeds, but overall the cabin remains quiet enough to allow for easy conversation.

We achieved a top speed of 81 mph in the Mitsubishi i, which is slower than the Leaf's top speed of 90 mph. This top speed was enough to allow the i to keep up on the highway without any tense moments; still, this limitation underlines the fact that this Mitsu is better suited for city motoring than highway travel. As with other electrics, the i has ample pep off the line, allowing the car to easily get up to speed in metro traffic.

Despite its tall body, the Mitsubishi corners with poise. Three drive settings are offered. "Eco" reduces the rate of battery consumption to improve energy economy, while "B" increases regenerative braking to achieve the same result. The most natural-feeling setting is "D," which allows for full power and torque; in this setting, the i feels as responsive and engaging as any gas-only subcompact.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Not the only one in

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

Lack of back seat leg room and basic seat design meant I could only give the car a "3" for comfort (but it's not advertised as a family hauler anyway). I already had two Mitsus, so, I had to pick the I-MiEV over the Leaf. But if you have a family of 4, buy the Leaf. As with my other Mitsus, the Japanese built or designed models (think Lancer vs. Galant) seem to have a better build quality and design (this one has the "J" VIN). Like my Buell, this thing is still rare enough to get lots of people coming by with questions, so be prepared. At $0.15 per KWhr, I pay a little over $3 for a full (22 hrs @ 110V) charge which gives me a little over 60-miles on the freeway or 80+ in the city.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

I'm in love!

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

I can hardly believe how well this vehicle handles! My wife and I made the purchase in Virginia and drove it to Eastern Pennsylvania (our home). We drove through some wicked storms and a ton of traffic around DC and Baltimore and all I can say is this car is a dream to drive. We were able to stop at dealers (Nissan) for FREE charges on the way home. Our cost $0!! 169 miles for free!!! I'll be using it for work and our average cost will be around $2.51 per 100 miles or $12.55 for 500 miles of driving. You can't beat that! If I fill it up over night, the cost goes even lower.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

Can you tell i like

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV ES 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

So far I've only had one month of ownership. No regrets. My other vehicle has been used just a few times since buying this one. There is enough torque/acceleration to pull away from the crowd at traffic lights if one wanted to. The comfort is not perfect for all day driving, but for the hour max that the car would be driven, it's adequate. The initial cost may be higher compared to other compact cars, but the eventual total cost of ownership is calculated to be lower. (Pay a little more up front for greater benefits down the road.) The vehicle is very stable since the wheels are located at the corners.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Great little car

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV ES 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

We have had the car now for over 2 months & put over 5000 km on it. The car has performed better than we had hoped for, & it is our only car. Comfortable, great visibility, and quiet. We plan to swap for or rent a gas car should we need to go on any long trips. We are 2 drivers sharing this one electric car and it has already saved us a whole lot of money from fuel bills. There was an adjustment period to get comfortable with the range limits, no prob driving our regular routes, Work commute, Shopping, Family visits. Once we got familiar with the charging station locations, we started enjoying taking longer trips, venturing further and further. A great all round car

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

The ev technology is ready

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV ES 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

I have this car for a half year with 2800 miles on it and it became the primary car in our family. Our 2 kids love it, too. The car completely changed my way of thinking as EV owner and driver. Going to a gas station is now hassle to me. Range anxiety is non existent as I learned that I need to think just a little before going for a trip. If the expected distance is above 75-80 miles, I take our Jetta TDI, that simple. Very recently, I have taken my iMiEV for a long trip to test its range when driving up to 40 MPH w/o A/C. I was able to get 93.4 miles with 1 mile remaining. No need to reach for the hidden reserves. It is really fun to drive.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

1500 kilometers and loving every

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV ES 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

I have had this car over six weeks now and use it for my daily commute of 45 kilometers (27 miles) each way, putting on sometimes well over 100 kilometers with a few bars in the power gauge to spare. This car is very comfortable and has all the features of a modern vehicle. Don't believe the spin that this car is lacking in anything, this car is truly reaching greater masses as the affordable alternative to the high priced electric cars now being offered by other manufacturers. This car is well designed and has plenty of power with a lot of range. This is the one that scares the oil companies and the car repair shops.

Talk About The 2012 i-MiEV

Read more about the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Gas Mileage


  • 126
  • cty
  • 99
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

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