Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles were first sold in California in 2015. That includes the Toyota Mirai, which has been around since the 2016 model year. It’s been redesigned for 2021, and it looks like a good car now. However, it’s still only available in California and Hawaii. Here’s what we know about the 2021 Toyota Mirai.
A new exterior for the 2021 Toyota Mirai
The Toyota Mirai has transformed itself from an ugly duckling into a swan. While it used to be what MotorTrend called “the oddball eco-friendly four-door,” it’s now “a handsome, slick-looking sedan.” Car and Driver says the 2020 Mirai looked like a Prius, while the 2021 Mirai looks like a Lexus.
Now that it’s in its second generation, the 2021 Mirai has more of a luxury feel and a more defined look. Its size has grown too, with an additional 2.7 inches of width and 3.3 inches of length. It’s also 2.5 inches lower. The exterior sports “dual-stacked headlights, a broader streamlined grille, 19-inch five-double-spoke wheels, and a full-width LED taillight panel.” It now is able to seat five rather than four people.
What are hydrogen fuel cells?
The Toyota Mirai’s fuel cells work through a chemical reaction by combining stored hydrogen with oxygen in the air to create an electric current. There are 11 pounds of hydrogen in three 10,000-psi carbon-fiber-reinforced tanks. The hydrogen can be refilled in just a few minutes, according to Car and Driver.
The 650-volt fuel cell, which is redesigned for the second generation, produces 128 kW, up from the previous 114 kW. It’s also smaller and lighter for 2021. The battery stores any extra electricity created by the fuel cell and by regenerative braking. The battery is smaller in this generation Mirai and also has a higher capacity.
Electric power from both the fuel cell and the battery powers an electric motor, which turns the wheels with a single-speed transmission. It’s a zero-emissions system that’s only byproduct is water.
The performance of the 2021 Toyota Mirai
In another upgrade for the new generation, the Toyota Mirai now has an EPA-estimated driving range of 402 miles. In MotorTrend’s tests, it averaged 63 mpg-e over 158.6 miles with 143 miles remaining. That would have worked out to about 300 miles per tank, but its tests did involve aggressive highway driving.
In its tests, MotorTrend says the Mirai “delivers a smooth-sailing driving experience and is exceptionally comfortable.” Its suspension is well-tuned, and the chassis is solid. At 4,243 pounds, the 2021 Mirai is 170 pounds heavier than the previous generation was. MotorTrend found that the car moves well and feels grounded due to “improved weight distribution and a lower center of gravity.” It isn’t noticeable when the car switches over from battery power to fuel cell power. It’s easy to forget it’s a fuel cell car, except that it reminds you periodically to release the byproduct water.
The 2021 Toyota Mirai features a new platform, the GA-L architecture, which it shares with the Lexus LS. It has a rear-drive configuration for 2021. In the past, it had front-wheel drive. The electric motor is now mounted on the rear wheels instead of the front ones, and it produces 182 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque.
It accelerated more quickly than an older model Mirai in MotorTrend’s tests and now zips from 0 to 60 MPH in 7.4 seconds. The Mirai also goes the quarter-mile in 15.8 seconds doing 87.2 MPH. The Mirai was about a second faster for MotorTrend on its figure-eight course; however, it can be tricky to tell how much braking is needed because of the regenerative braking. It doesn’t have the feel of a sport sedan, but handling has improved over the previous generation.
Other features you can expect
The 2021 Toyota Mirai comes standard with keyless entry and ignition, heated and power-adjustable seats, faux-leather upholstery, plus a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also has a Wi-Fi hotspot, 14-speaker audio system, SiriusXM satellite radio, and navigation. The higher of the two trims adds a number of features, including heated and ventilated front and rear seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a moonroof.
Standard advanced safety features include adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist. The car also comes with a $15,000 fuel credit and 21 days of free vehicle rentals for travel in areas without hydrogen refueling stations.
The two trims of the 2021 Toyota Mirai start at $49,500 and $66,000, which is lower than the 2020 model year’s price. MotorTrend tested the lower XLE trim, priced at $52,330. It also had the Advanced Technology package, for an additional $1,410. While it’s still expensive, the 2021 Mirai is a good-looking car now.