The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is a pure electric car and one of the few EVs that automakers have released in recent years. This five-door hatchback provides a low cost of entry in the electric vehicle segment.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Overview
Introduced in 2012, the subcompact Mitsubishi i-MiEV quickly established itself as a low-cost alternative to the Nissan Leaf as well as to other electrified vehicles, including the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt. Whereas the Tesla Model S appeals to luxury customers, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is designed primarily to reach customers who otherwise would not consider an electric car.
That said, the i-MiEV has the shortest EPA-verified driving range of any electric vehicle. At 62 miles per charge, the Mitsubishi EV's range is 22 miles shorter than the Nissan Leaf's. Further, its 0-to-60 mph time of 13 seconds and top speed of 80 mph demonstrate that performance is not this model's strong suit. Nevertheless, its sub-$23,000 price point when purchased new and an available $7,500 federal tax credit put this car within the affordability range of similarly sized gas-powered cars and without owners ever needing to visit a gas station, change the oil or replace the spark plugs.
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is powered by an electric motor with an output of 66 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. This rear-wheel drive model seats four and comes paired with a single-speed direct drive transmission. Unlike some other electric cars, the i-MiEV completely drains and recharges the battery. Recharge times can take up to 22 hours using a conventional 120-volt household outlet. Customers with access to a 240-volt Level 2 charger can replenish the battery in about seven hours. The battery charging system also supports Level 3 charging, which can replenish the battery to 80 percent of its capacity within 30 minutes.
The exterior of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV has a distinct pod layout, including a space-age design with lines that flow from the base of the front bumper to the rear pillar. The front fascia has a lower grille opening, dual fog lights, parking lights and oversized headlamp assemblies that match the length of the hood.
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV's profile accents the overall circular affect as the door panels present a ring-shaped outline. Spherical touches on the wheel wells and a rising beltline contribute to a flowing look. At the rear of the electric car the taillights dominate, running from the top of the car to the bottom of the rear glass. Integrated reflector lights are found within the rear bumper.
Inside, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV's spartan interior pales in comparison to other models, with cheap plastics in abundance. Its single ES trim level has manually adjusted bucket seats up front and a 50-50 split fold-down seat in the rear. Its tall height and roomy interior provide surprisingly sufficient room for four adults, although its narrow layout also means they're pushed closer together.
Standard features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and carpeted floor mats. Every model also comes equipped with power windows, front map lights, a 6-speaker audio system and a 12-volt outlet. A navigation package upgrade became available for the 2016 model year, which brings in a navigation system, steering wheel audio controls, a rearview camera and a USB port.
Inasmuch as Mitsubishi has a toehold in the electric vehicle market, shoppers should be aware that this model has been produced in low quantities since its introduction. Following its 2012 release, the next two model years were 2014 and 2016 as Mitsubishi skipped the 2013 and 2015 model years.
Although Mitsubishi i-MiEV buyers probably wouldn't consider the Tesla Model S, the Nissan Leaf is a logical alternative to this hatchback. Depending on where you live, additional pure electric vehicles with a lower cost of entry include the Chevrolet Spark EV, Volkswagen e-Golf, Fiat 500e, Kia Soul EV and Ford Focus Electric. Some models, such as the tiny Fiat, are limited to California.
Buyers concerned about range anxiety might also consider plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), such as the Chevrolet Volt. These vehicles utilize gasoline when the electric system runs out and can be quickly replenished at any service station. Besides the Volt, the Ford C-MAX Energi and Toyota Prius Plug-In might also be considered.