A small electric vehicle, the 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV offers the prospect of gas-free commuting at a low entry-level price. Basically, this is one of the least expensive electric vehicles on the market. Factoring in government tax rebates, you're potentially looking at fewer than $20,000 for a new EV. Unfortunately, that's about all the i-MiEV has going for it.
For starters, the i-MiEV doesn't perform as well as rival EVs. The EPA says you can expect a typical driving range of just 59 miles before running out of battery power. Most other EVs that are similarly priced can go about 20 to 30 miles more. And once you've depleted the i-MiEV's batteries, it will take quite a while to recharge. With the i-MiEV, expect charging times about twice as long as those in rival EVs.
Once you've got it on the road, the i-MiEV is one of the slowest cars on the market to reach 60 mph. And if you are brave enough to venture onto the highway, you'll quickly discover a bouncy and rough ride. It's loud, too, with not much sound insulation to keep out the wind and road noise. This isn't the kind of vehicle that will keep you calm and undisturbed on the way to work in the morning.
Other EVs fare better. The Chevrolet Spark is the closest in size and prize to the i-MiEV, and it's much quicker and it comes with more standard equipment. The Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf are all more expensive than the i-MiEV but give you longer driving ranges, much more upscale interiors and superior refinement. So while the idea of using a small, inexpensive EV for commuting is enticing, we recommend avoiding the i-MiEV as the means to go about it.
Standard safety equipment on the 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV includes antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. It also features an "Approaching Vehicle Audible System" (AVAS), which alerts pedestrians that the i-MiEV is nearby by emitting a sound at low speeds. Rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are optional.
At the Edmunds test track, in a simulated panic stop, the i-MiEV came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is typical for an EV in this class. When the government crash tested the i-MiEV, it received an overall rating offour out of five stars, with four stars for total frontal-impact protection and three stars for total side-impact protection. The lower side-impact score is the result of excessive rear door panel intrusion during testing, suggesting an elevated risk of torso injuries for passengers riding in back.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV is an all-electric four-door hatchback with seating for four. There's just one trim level and it's called ES.
Standard equipment includes 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, heated side mirrors, full power accessories, air-conditioning, heated front seats, 50/50 split-folding rear seats that also recline, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
Also included are a Level 3 quick-charging port and a remote system that activates the climate control and the charging timer.
The optional Navigation package adds a 7-inch touchscreen, navigation, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity (known as the Fuse hands-free link system), steering-wheel audio controls and a USB port. Stand-alone options include rear parking sensors, blue LED interior lighting and a cargo net.
Powering the rear-wheel-drive 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV is a 49-kilowatt electric motor (66 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque) fed by a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. At the Edmunds test track, the i-MiEV went from zero to 60 mph in 14.7 seconds, which is a long time for any modern car, even an EV. For comparison, the Nissan Leaf posts a 10.2-second time, while a Fiat 500e will make it to 60 mph in just 8.2 seconds.
According to the EPA, the2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV has an estimated driving range of just 59 miles. That's far less than the i-MiEV's competitors that typically have 75-85 miles of range. (The Nissan Leaf, with its optional battery, can go more than 100 miles.) The EPA has given the i-MiEV an energy consumption estimate of 30 kWh per 100 miles rating (the lower the kWh number, the better), which is on par with competitors like the Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf.
Because of the i-MiEV's 3.3kW onboard charger, it can take a long time to charge fully. Plugged into a 120-volt household outlet, the Mitsubishi takes 14-22 hours to reach a full charge, and in our testing, it was usually closer to 22. With a Level 2 (240-volt) charging station, the EPA estimates the i-MiEV can be recharged in seven hours, though we found that the i-MiEV typically needed eight hours. Mitsubishi claims that a Level 3 charger will restore the i-MiEV to 80 percent of a full charge in just 30 minutes, but these chargers aren't as common, so you'll want to check your area for availability.
One of the benefits of driving a small, electric-powered vehicle like the 2017 i-MiEV is that it has decent pep off the line, especially in the city. At low speeds in city traffic, it's particularly at home. In general, the lack of a gas-powered engine makes for a quiet cabin, but there is a distinct sound from the electric motor when you accelerate hard.
Driving a Mitsubishi i-MiEV on the highway is a much less enjoyable experience. The last time we tested one, we achieved a top speed of just 81 mph. The time it takes to accelerate to 60 mph just isn't up to modern standards. Once it's on the highway, the i-MiEV depletes its batteries at a particularly swift rate and there's a noticeable increase in wind and tire noise. Comfort is an issue too, with a bouncy, busy ride.
While it may have seemed funky five years ago when it was introduced, the i-MiEV feels dated and cheap on the inside by today's standards. Most of the cabin surfaces are hard plastic, with a sort of monotone feeling throughout.
Thanks to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV's tall body, there's plenty of headroom, but the driving position is awkward and legroom is tight for taller adults, who will likely run out of seat-track travel. Legroom is also a problem in the backseat, and the seats themselves are flat and not very supportive.
For storage, there is 13.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which isn't much by EV or hatchback standards. There's enough room back there for some golf clubs or a standard sized suitcase, but some EV rivals have nearly double that space. Fold the seats down to get a much healthier amount of space: 50.4 cubes. That's similar to cars like the Kia Soul EV and the VW e-Golf.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.