Read the introduction of this vehicle to our long-term fleet.
See all of the long-term updates on this vehicle.
What We Got
The 2016 Toyota Mirai was the first fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle available for public sale in North America. It is only available in California, and at the beginning of our test there were just over 10 fueling locations. It was not only an important test for Toyota but also for the viability of hydrogen as a gasoline alternative.
We did not have to put much thought into how to equip our Mirai. The sedan was available in just one trim, fully loaded. The standard equipment list included leather seating, heated everything, blind-spot monitoring, an Entune infotainment system and more. The MSRP was $58,335.
There was plenty of bait to entice buyers, including a $7,500 Toyota "Trailblazer Purchase Support" incentive, a $8,000 federal tax credit and a $5,000 California rebate. On top of all that, every Mirai had access to carpool lanes and a complimentary hydrogen fuel card for the first three years of ownership.
What would hydrogen cost us when the three free years ran out? Is hydrogen a feasible alternative to battery-electric vehicles? How realistic is the 312-mile range projection? These were some of the questions in mind when our six-month test of the 2016 Toyota Mirai began. Here's what we found out:
"At speed the Mirai is undramatic. Its ride comfort is better than the Tesla's, and its relatively compact dimensions make it feel tidier on the road. Rolling on skinny all-season tires, it has nothing like the handling and braking capability of the Tesla. But the driving experience is reassuringly normal." — Jason Kavanagh
"Combined, the steering heft and large turning circle make the Mirai hard to park and generally cumbersome to maneuver in tight quarters. After a week in the Toyota I found these driving characteristics to be my least favorite." — Mike Schmidt
"Today's Hydrogen Highway is eerily similar to those early days of the Tesla Supercharger Network, and that realization recently prompted Jay Kavanagh and me to concoct a friendly contest. It's the 2016 Toyota Mirai versus the 2016 Tesla Model X, hydrogen versus electricity, fuel cell versus batteries. It's the Hydrogen Highway versus the Tesla Supercharger network." — Dan Edmunds
"Sacramento comes up swiftly, but the filling station forces me to watch the dreaded instructional video before refueling. Arrggh. Then some poor instructions result in the video playing a second time. And then a third. ... Still, the refueling stop consumes only 12 minutes, even with the unexpected delay." — Jason Kavanagh
"Seat comfort was also another surprise. I wasn't expecting anything special, but the driver seat in the Mirai fits my 6-foot-2 frame perfectly. It has excellent bolstering along the sides and plenty of support for my thighs." — Ed Hellwig
"Sitting behind the 5-foot-5-inch Emma, who of course hadn't moved her seat forward to accommodate her 5-foot-7-inch mother, I realized I had plenty of room for both my knees and my feet. So much, in fact, that I allowed my laptop bag to share my footwell." — Kelly Hellwig
"There are so many aspects of our Mirai that are unusual. Thankfully, the trunk isn't one of them. Sure, it's not as big as it could be thanks to the twin tanks of compressed hydrogen hiding underneath the floor, but there's still more than enough room for a standard set of golf clubs." — Ed Hellwig
"If you're going to pay nearly $60,000 for a Toyota, it had better not have the interior of a $30,000 Prius. Thankfully, our long-term Mirai does not. Indeed, its cabin is what I would call 'Lexus Lite,' wherein it's a clear step above other Toyotas yet not quite to the level of the company's luxury division." — James Riswick
"If you like futuristic touchscreen controls, you'll love the Mirai. It has them in spades, even where you don't want them. Thankfully, there are some redundant controls on the steering wheel that use actual buttons. Are they enough to make up for the clumsy touchscreen on the center stack? Uh ? sometimes." — Ed Hellwig
Audio and Technology
"The Mirai ... comes with a Qi-compatible wireless phone charging pad ... concealed inside the center armrest bin. It sounds like a brilliant idea. ... But there is a catch. ... Your phone must have designed-in wireless charging capability or be fitted into a phone case or other adapter that is compatible." — Dan Edmunds
"The Mirai sure doesn't skimp on providing things that are heated. This panel at the bottom of the center stack includes controls for driver and front passenger seat heaters, the heated steering wheel and even heated windshield wipers." — Ed Hellwig
"The wiper fluid reservoir was easy to find under the hood. It's tucked near the firewall on the passenger side. Less than a gallon satisfied the warning light. Case closed." — Mike Schmidt
"There's a water purge button. As you may or may not know, the sole byproduct of the fuel cell's conversion of hydrogen into electricity is water. Under normal use, that water is expelled through a discharge pipe underneath the car, so it might leave a small puddle much like the air-conditioning system of a normal car does." — Ed Hellwig
"Buy or lease a Mirai and you'll get a gas card that gives you free fuel for three years. Like a Tesla's Supercharger electricity, it costs you nothing. In three years you get up to $15,000 worth. ... After three years, though, you're on your own. Maybe the price will drop. Probably the price will drop. The future of hydrogen power depends on it. But by how much? Maybe it's better to lease this one. A lot can change in three years. Something better will come along. Something better-looking certainly will." — Dan Edmunds
Maintenance & Repairs
Aside from a tire rotation at 5,000 miles, no maintenance was required during our test.
No recalls or technical service bulletins were issued during our test.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
Fuel economy was the wildcard with the Mirai. We can tell you our car averaged 58.9 MPkg of hydrogen and that our best tank was 74.3 MPkg and our worst 41.9 MPkg. But that means little without a comparison to a gasoline powered car. So let's compare our long-term 2016 Toyota Mirai to our long-term 2016 Toyota Prius.
During the first three years it is free to fuel the Mirai. It wins, right? Except it isn't that easy. Say you left your fuel card on the dresser or say the three-year grace period ran out. We found hydrogen prices vary considerably from station to station and paid anywhere from $9.54 to $16.63 per kg during our test. Our average cost per mile was 24 cents.
Now take our Prius. We have averaged 47.7 mpg to date. Since the Mirai is a California-only car, we take the $2.80 average cost of 87-octane gasoline in this state for the calculation. Our average cost per mile in the Prius is 6 cents, or four times less than the Mirai, if we had to pay.
We have no idea what hydrogen will cost in the future. For the success of the technology it has to drop considerably. But for the purposes of drawing a conclusion, the safe bet at this point in time is to lease a Mirai rather than buy.
Resale and Depreciation:
MSRP on our Mirai was $58,335. After our six-month test the odometer read 7,925 miles. Using Edmunds TMV Calculator and assuming a private-party sale, we calculated a drop in value to $39,035, or a 33 percent depreciation from MSRP. Not that great but on par with other alt-fuel vehicles.
If we subtracted the $7,500 discount offered by Toyota, things got interesting. This adjustment effectively lowered MSRP to $50,835 and depreciation to 23 percent. We did not include any other purchase incentives in this calculation, as they can vary from sale to sale. But their existence makes the cost to buy a Mirai even more appealing.
It's a surprisingly comfortable sedan thanks to the supple suspension and well-shaped seats; comes fully loaded so there are plenty of features and no options to consider; capably of well over 250 miles on a single tank; plenty of usable trunk space; free hydrogen for three years; eligible for carpool lane access; enough room in the backseats for adults to sit comfortably.
The Mirai is sold only in California currently; lack of refueling stations means you have to plan ahead for longer trips; cost of hydrogen fuel varies widely from station to station; some of the interior controls are hard to use at a glance; strong initial acceleration but slow at higher speeds.
For a first attempt at a hydrogen-fueled car for the public, the Mirai was surprisingly comfortable, easy to drive and trouble-free. It had more than enough range to drive it everyday without having to worry about staying close to the nearest fueling station, and it felt substantial on the road. In other words, it was an uneventful ownership experience that made running on hydrogen feel as normal as filling up with gas.
|2016 Toyota Mirai||2016 Toyota Prius|
|Average Fuel Economy:||58.9 MPkg||47.7 mpg|
|Best Fuel Economy:||74.3 MPkg||57.2 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy:||41.9 MPkg||42.3 mpg|
|Average Cost per Mile (< 3 years):||$0||6 cents|
|Average Cost per Mile (> 3 years):||24 cents||6 cents|
|Best Range:||283.4 miles||468.5 miles|
|True Market Value at service end:||$39,035 (private-party sale)|
|Depreciation:||$19,300 (33% of original MSRP)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||7,925 miles|
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.