2021 Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle
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It's rare that a car's own merits are overshadowed by the fuel that powers it, but that's the case with the Toyota Mirai 2021. Yes, it is an attractive sedan with rear-wheel drive, impressive interior comfort and high-tech options. What is important, however, is that the new generation Mirai, along with the Hyundai Nexo, is one of the few hydrogen-powered vehicles on the market and the fuel cell version of the Honda Clarity. Hydrogen-powered vehicles use an on-board fuel cell to generate electricity from ambient oxygen and compressed hydrogen, which is stored in the vehicle's built-in tanks. The electricity powers the vehicle and clean water drips from under the car as a by-product of the chemical reaction.
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Hydrogen, the joke goes, is the fuel of the future - and it always will be. Despite promises of zero tailpipe emissions and quick fueling, the infrastructure required for the widespread adoption of hydrogen as a fuel for passenger cars doesn't exist outside of a handful of gas stations. Americans have been promised "hydrogen highways" in the US for decades, but there are few stations left today. And even if more is done, there are concerns about the energy needed to refine and transport hydrogen and its efficiency as a fuel for passenger cars.
The name Mirai means "future" in Japanese, and we are confident that Toyota will use the new car as a test bed for tomorrow's technologies. After all, a hydrogen-powered car is essentially an electric vehicle with a fuel cell that provides the power instead of a large battery.
However, in the Shona language, the name Mirai means "waiting," and that's exactly what drivers must do if they want a hydrogen-powered Toyota, unless they live in California. This is the only state where the Mirai will be available for the first time - starting at $ 49,500 to purchase or $ 499 per month to lease, including $ 15,000 for free hydrogen. We can only test a Mirai thanks to the proximity of our test track to the only publicly accessible hydrogen station outside of California.
In a press release for the Mirai, Toyota said that one day hydrogen propulsion will be as common as hybrids are today. Honda and Hyundai have made as big bets on hydrogen as some chemical companies and governments. However, there is no guarantee that these bets will pay off, and Toyota is also working hard on battery-powered electric cars - cars that, unlike the Mirai, can be charged at home. So if you happen to see a Mirai on the street, take a picture. It could become a relic of a future that never was. And when you see one on the streets of New England wave. It is probably one of our test drivers.
The Mirai, a low sedan with a long front overhang, is based on the same fundamentals as the Lexus LS luxury sedan and looks like a designer’s early portrayal of the current Avalon. Overall, it's an attractive design that suggests how special the car is without attracting too much attention, and it's an important step forward from the shorter, narrower outgoing model that looked too much like a pedestrian Prius. A deep color called Hydro Blue that we saw on a Mirai prototype at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show has multiple layers of paint on it. It is only available for the high-end limited version.
According to Toyota, the narrow, curved headlights are a “new lighting signature” for the brand. We wouldn't be surprised if we took a similar look at future Corolla, Camry, and Avalon sedans.
We're only concerned about two possible missteps: the protruding edge of the hood and recessed grille give it a distinct underbite, and the unadorned sheet metal around the edges of the front doors draws attention to it, like their sharp right angles alongside the rest of the car's curvature.
The interior is also reminiscent of the current Avalon, but has a Prius-like gear lever and Lexus-like soft-touch surfaces. Between the two front seats and two rows of actual buttons under the touchscreen, there's a noticeably large space for wireless charging, but no button to change the volume.
The Limited trim provides climate and audio controls for the rear passengers, as well as heated and ventilated front and rear seats, a panoramic sunroof and ambient lighting.
The engine of the new Mirai is smaller than that of its predecessor, which means it offers more space for cargo and passengers - and it can accommodate five people instead of four. Even so, it only has 9.6 cubic feet of trunk space - about 60 percent less than what the Toyota Avalon or Lexus LS offer.
What drives it
The Mirai has a fuel cell system that is 20 percent smaller and half the weight of the outgoing model's setup, so it fits under the hood rather than the passenger compartment. A lithium-ion battery that stores energy for rapid acceleration is also smaller and lighter than the previous Mirai battery. Three carbon-fiber reinforced high-pressure tanks hold a total of 5.6 kg of hydrogen - hydrogen costs 13 to 17 US dollars per kg - enough to give the Mirai a range of up to 400 miles between refueling. Similar to filling a car with gasoline, it takes about 5 minutes to fill the Mirai with hydrogen. The automaker estimates fuel consumption for the XLE fairing at 74 MPGe and for the Limited fairing at 65 MPGe. This means that the XLE is at the forefront of efficiency among its hydrogen-powered competitors. (MPGe stands for "miles per gallon equivalent" and is analogous to how far a car could travel on a gallon of gasoline. Hydrogen is sold in kg.)
The fuel cell and battery send power to a rear-mounted electric motor. Toyota says the drivetrain is good for 182 horsepower and 221 lb.-ft. Torque - that's a slight increase in performance compared to the previous model, but a little less torque. Acceleration is slow 9.2 seconds from 0 to 60 miles per hour.
Like a hybrid, the Mirai uses battery power for slow driving and initial acceleration and prompts the fuel cell to power the vehicle's electric drivetrain if necessary. Regenerative braking and excess energy from the fuel cell charge the battery. We'll be curious to see how smoothly it accelerates, considering that some hybrids have a tendency to shake and feel sluggish when their gas engines are brought to life.
Aside from the fuel cell, the Mirai has a 50/50 weight distribution (front and rear) for predictable handling and multi-link suspension that, according to Toyota, gives the car a sporty feel. We'll let you know more when we drive one.
Safety and driver assistance systems
Every Mirai is equipped as standard with automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, warning of blind spots (BSW), lane departure warning, warning of cross traffic at the rear (RCTW), lane departure warning system (LKA) and dynamic cruise control. The Standard XLE offers an optional surround view camera and a rear AEB - both are standard on the Limited with higher trim. Parking assistance is only available from the Limited.
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