The never-ending battle between wallet and gas-pump may have reached a vital turning point with the addition of another all-electric vehicle taking to the road, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. The teardrop shaped EV has aerodynamics to back the claimed fuel economy of 126 mpg-equivalent in city driving and 99 mpg-equivalent on the highway. While those numbers are mind-bendingly solid, the rest of the EV is has yet to really prove itself in the real world. With the lack of generic public charging stations the anxiety that comes along with piloting an electric vehicle may still be too great for some to consider the i-MiEV.
While other EVs in the segment offer a more supple ride and interior space the i-MiEV stands tall with its claimed fuel economy. A 49 KW motor provides the equivalent of about 66 horsepower but other competitors have stronger variants. The i-MiEV has a claimed top speed of 80 mph, but that will drain the overall range fast.
The basic ES trim offers limited features but opting for the SE for a couple grand more will solve that problem. The upper-level SE offers an upgraded audio system, navigation system, and a rearview camera. The i-MiEV enters the EV class at a time when fuel prices continue to be unstable, but it's still recommended you check out the competition before making a final decision.
Body style: hatchback
Transmission: Direct drive
Models: ES, SE
The i-MiEV all-electric vehicle makes its U.S. debut in 2012.
At first glance the i-MiEV looks straight off the set of a science fiction movie, with bug-eye headlights that bookend the front end and run into the tip of the front bumper. Its teardrop appearance enhances the EV's already unheard of fuel economy as its shape screams solid aerodynamics. Fog lights carve out a spot on the front bumper while the lower intake floats in between. The front doors stretch more than half the length of the vehicle and small rear doors provide a cramped entrance point for the back seat.
All the usual power accessories are present, along with a filtered air-conditioning system and a heated driver's seat thrown in for good measure. Splurging a couple grand more will get you the SE model, which brings an upgraded interior and audio system with it. The SE also includes a port which enables a public quick charger to recharge the battery in a half hour. A navigation system, rearview camera, Bluetooth, and audio steering wheel controls are also thrown in the SE trim for good measure. If the i-MiEV is in your price range it will come down to the need for rear seat room, which is lacking to put it mildly.
Electric vehicles aren't usually known for their power and the i-MiEV holds true to form, producing 66 horsepower from a motor rated at 49 KW. A top speed of 80 mph is respectable for the EV and is attainable through being on the lighter side, 2600 pounds to be exact. An unrefined ride plagues the i-MiEV, while other competitors have already mastered that issue. However, golf-cart handling may be a turn-off to some for Mitsubishi's all-electric entrant.
Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, front and rear head airbags, dual front side-mounted airbags, and child seat anchors. Other safety features include an anti-theft alarm system, emergency braking assist, rear door child safety locks, front seatbelt pretensioners, stability and traction control, and electronic brake force distribution. The i-MiEV has yet to be rated by the NHTSA or IIHS.
126 mpge city/99 mpge highway
- Fuel economy
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