Review: 2016 Toyota Mirai

– West Caldwell, New Jersey

There’s a profound adage that suggests that you can’t be everything to everyone, and for a more peaceful existence, you ought to stop trying to be. Toyota obviously rejects this theory. The 2016 Mirai fuel-cell vehicle is proof.

Eager to prove that installing hydrogen fuel cells into cars does not turn them into Hindenburg-style disaster sites, Toyota has gone ahead and built the Mirai: a four-door sedan that happens to be powered by hydrogen, a fuel that the majority of drivers aren’t using yet. Toyota tried convincing the public to try gas-electric hybrids with the same tactic almost 15 years ago, with the first Prius, which wasn’t exactly a run-of-the-mill sedan. Learning from the past, the hydrogen-powered Mirai is a follow-up attempt that’s trying to be as normal as possible.

I’ve just moved to southern California, and I’m tempted by the promise of motoring without harmful emissions – although buying a Mirai really means needing to buy a second car, too. If you can look past the Mirai’s angry, space-age shape (which you should), it’s a cogent proposition.

 

Pros

  • Like a Tesla Model S, the Mirai proves that an alternative-fuel vehicle can act and feel like a “normal,” gasoline-powered car. It looks like a Prius. It has a familiar instrument panel and switches. You can drive it over 300 miles before needing to refuel. And at the end of the day, it’s a four-door sedan that plays down the weirdness as much as aerodynamics will allow.
  • It’s comforta...