With 2022 just around the corner, what’s left of 2021 is just as good a time as any to take stock of how far the Toyota Mirai has come — and prospect where the Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV), whose name translates as “future” in Japanese, is bound. The hydrogen-powered Mirai, in development for decades but in mass production since only 2015, is situated as a unique and intriguing alternative to electric battery powered vehicles. The 2021 model year marks a leap into the second generation for the Toyota FCV, and nothing conveys that better than the introduction of a new exterior design (and here’s where we can admit to being partial to our tester in Supersonic Red).
Whereas the 2020 Mirai resembled its sibling, the ubiquitous Prius, the 2021 Mirai has Lexus looks. And, let’s just say, the upgrade is something to fawn over, because the Mirai’s sleeker and refined, and its RWD proportions are a delight. Toyota has managed to finesse – err, fuse, let’s go with that – the Lexus body language, sans the spindle grille, in the new Mirai.
By comparison, the 2021 Mirai is longer and wider – by a few inches, nothing too crazy – than the Lexus GS. Beyond the exterior design, the Mirai is equipped with an improved fuel-cell powertrain, able to switch from front- to rear-wheel drive. The Mirai’s range improves to a very respectable, even Prius-like, 402 miles — all on a tank of hydrogen.
The interior is not afterthought, as the 2021 Mirai has ample space even despite the cabin having to cede some room to one of the hydrogen tanks. This trade-off means the rear middle seat may feel a bit more cramped than that of a Lexus or Prius.
The sweet, green ride won’t just move in silence, as the Mirai’s packs serious sounds courtesy of a powerful, 14-speaker JBL audio setup. It’s output, along with GPS, is accessible through the touchscreen – which at 13.2 inches has a screen as big as many work laptops.
The greatest aspect of the 2021 Toyota Mirai is it’s gasoline-free, producing just water vapor emissions. As mentioned earlier, the Mirai’s very respectable range of up to 402 miles would make most EVs and their owners envious.
The hydrogen that powers this FCV is stored in three large carbon-fiber-composite cylindrical tanks; these require 10,000 psi and refueled using high-pressure hydrogen filling equipment found only at 43 locations in California, which are for public use and supply hydrogen reformed with natural gas. Someday in the future hydrogen will perhaps be more ‘green’ and renewable, but that infrastructure is indeed in the mirai.
The Mirai’s rear wheels are powered by an electric motor generating 182 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. The electric power comes from the latest version of Toyota’s fuel-cell stack, whose output is in the 172 hp range through a flow of hydrogen. A 1.2-kWh lithium-ion battery is aboard as a buffer and booster, comparable to the setup in a hybrid like a Prius.
The Mirai is nonchalant about hydrogen fuel-cell technology, almost the opposite of Tesla’s electrifying push (Ludicrous Mode, anyone?) The 2021 Mirai has a 0-60 mph time of 9.1 seconds, which is much sluggish and pales in comparison to gas models despite offering up more of an oomph when it gets up to 50 mph. Its strong suit is smooth ride and handling. For lack of better description, it’s just one cool customer and not an ostentatious one.
The Mirai is gifted with some of the most precise-feeling steering we’ve experienced, but given this is a Toyota, it is to be expected. Still, it is an incredible feat when considering the RWD Mirai weighs around 4,300 pounds. Toyota’s mastery of dynamic driving and precision is just a joy to behold when cruising on a highway or powering through the stop-and-go rush hour commute.
MSRP for the Mirai is $66,000 for the Limited trim model. Options include the 20-inch super chrome alloy wheels ($1,120) and the Supersonic Red premium paint ($425). Toyota also includes six years (or $15,000) of complementary hydrogen if you purchase or lease the second-generation Mirai.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2021 Angel Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog