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Reviews2022 Toyota Mirai Review: Semi-Hopeless Technology Wasted on a Great Car?

2022 Toyota Mirai Review: Semi-Hopeless Technology Wasted on a Great Car?

The 2022 Toyota Mirai is a Lexus Avalon, if there was such a thing, that’s high on hydrogen


2022 Toyota Mirai Pros

– For $54,990, the Mirai is surprisingly affordable given the level of technology, refinement, and equipment.

– It is one of the smoothest-driving Toyota Lexus cars ever.

– The 2023 XLE trim is actually $1,440 lower than for 2022 (removal of Panoramic View Monitor and Parking Support Brake).


2022 Toyota Mirai Cons

– What refueling infrastructure?

– Small trunk and cramped rear bench seat.

– The $76,850 Limited is a near-complete waste of money.

– Unknown reliability and ownership costs.


2022 Toyota Mirai | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

I could not help but think about the future as I drove around in this 2022 Toyota Mirai. As we know, and I’m oversimplifying it, about 100 years ago, a decision was made that dictated that petrol-powered cars were a better option than electric vehicles. Some 50 years later we began understanding that we had possibly made a big mistake, and now, a further 50 years after that, I feel as though we’re now faced with a similar decision.


Hydrogen, petrol, hybrids, synthetic fuels, all-electric?

Por qué no los cinqo? This is the position taken by a fair number of automakers globally as they search and experiment with as many alternatives for cleaner mobility. Of the five enumerated, hydrogen stands for a number of reasons.

2022 Toyota Mirai | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The short of the long reason is that a fuel-cell vehicle is a hybrid-electric vehicle that runs on hydrogen. And although “H” is the most abundant element on Earth, it still needs to be isolated, stored, and transferred in order to make an FCEV run. I’m not going to pretend that I’m an engineer or a chemist but my understanding is that isolating, storing, and transferring the gas would require an infrastructure, not unlike our existing gasoline distribution system with the distinction that some stations would set up to extract its own hydrogen from the atmosphere. This seems like an extremely costly and laborious undertaking when we can simply plug in EVs at home overnight… When it comes to commercial fleets, on the other hand, the story changes.


Quiet and smooth

 

That’s because an FCEV powertrain is, like an EV, quiet, responsive, and completely seamless. The Mirai runs like a hybrid EV in the sense that the hydrogen fuel cell, when combined with ambient air, creates electricity that runs the electric motor. This FCEV also features a 1.24 kWh battery that can both recapture braking energy and deliver a power boost under acceleration.

 

The single electric motor, which produces 182hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, is mounted in the rear and provides decent forward thrust. The 4,275-lb sedan is not quick by today’s EV standards, but the Mirai gets out of its way briskly enough. The lack of noise and shift shock delivers an absolutely docile driving experience. You’ll never win a street-light race however as the Mirai requires about 9.5 seconds to reach 100 km/h from a standstill.

 

But that’s not important. I refer to the Mirai as the Lexus Avalon and for good reason. The Toyota FCEV is incredibly refined and comfortable. In fact, it’s nicer than any current new Toyota or Lexus vehicle – the last product from the Japanese auto giant I drove that was this cossetting was a previous generation Lexus LS. Even so, handling and chassis responsiveness, though dull, are fine. The multi-link front and rear suspension offer generous dampening and plushness.

 

The advantages to the Mirai’s FCEV powertrain are zero emissions, other than water, up to 647km of range on 5.6 kg of hydrogen, and a five-minute refuel. The thing is that I was given the car with a half-tank-full and about 210km of range given that there are no official refueling stations in the greater Montreal area. In fact, I returned to Toyota Canada’s regional offices for a top-up the following day as range estimates dropped far faster than expected during my drive in late January.

 

About refueling. The Mirai was only half-full as no actual pump was used to fill the car’s tanks. Toyota used a tank with a transfer pump which could not generate enough pressure to fully refuel the car.

 


Not pretty, but unique

 

I can’t get myself to call the Toyota Mirai beautiful, but it certainly is more attractive than the first-generation car. The Mirai’s profile is fastback-like and essentially only the rear quarters are slightly off, but that’s an entirely personal opinion.

 

Given that there’s a real chance you’ll never see one on the road, know that the Mirai measures 497.5 cm in length, or only 1 cm less than an Avalon. Likewise, the Mirai’s wheelbase, at 292 cm, is only 5 cm longer than the Avalon’s.


Lovely yet compromised cabin

The tested 2022 XLE, price from $54,990 (2023: $53,550 (lower price due to removal of some features), included 19-inch wheels, LED lights, an 8-inch digital instrument panel, a 12.-3-inch touchscreen display, a heated steering wheel, heated softex leather seats, and much more.

 

As far as standard features go, this is complete. The top-trim $76,850 (2022 and 2023) Limited throws in power rear window sunshades, easy-close rear doors, a head-up display, synthetic leather heated seats, 20-inch wheels, a panoramic moonroof, and more. There’s a good reason why one will never be seen on the road – there’s no point in spending the extra $20,000.

Throughout the cabin, fit, finish, and materials are Lexus-like in quality. Front passengers get plenty of room however the rear bench occupants do not have it as good. Despite the long wheelbase, the rear door openings are quite narrow but once inside, comfort levels are decent so long as you’re not sitting in the middle. Another compromise comes from the diminutive trunk that offers only 272 litres of usable volume. The hydrogen tanks are to blame here.


And to conclude…

The 2022 and 2023 Toyota Mirai are lovely cars but ultimately pointless now. All the design and chassis engineering efforts would have better served a Lexus product, in my opinion, but what’s done is done.

 

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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