2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Starting MSRP: $22,995 - $22,995

Estimated MPG: 126 city / 99 hwy

2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Review

The 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV is the kind of car you can support in theory, but not in practice. While it offers a lower starting price than competing electric cars, the i-MiEV's tepid acceleration, cramped interior and limited standard features may give many buyers pause.

By Keith Griffin
Last Updated 09/19/2016

The 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV is a four-door, sub-compact that bills itself as the least-expensive electric vehicle in the United States. It comes in one trim level and has a starting price of $22,995 before the $850 destination charge.

For 2016, little is changed from the 2014 model year (there was no 2015 model). Improvements are all optional and technological. They include an optional navigation package with 7-inch touch-screen display, real-time traffic, 3D mapping and two free annual updates. Bluetooth, a USB port and a rearview camera are also added with this package.

Exterior

Exterior
5

Mitsubishi bills the i-MiEV as distinctive, which is accurate. In this case, though, with its bugged out headlamps, squished front-end and perpendicular rear design, you have a car that only its mother could truly love — or even like. The front fascia, with its headlamps stacked above the directional signals stacked above the fog lights, looks like a retro stab at a futuristic design.

The one place to cut the Mitsubishi i-MiEV some slack are the plastic wheel covers. While ugly, they serve the practical purposes of increased aerodynamics and weight savings.

Interior

Interior
7

The 2016 i-MiEV can seat four adults who tend toward the diminutive. People with inseams above 29 inches can't fit comfortably upfront, and you have to qualify for a kid's meal to sit in back.

The interior, while suffused with hard plastic surfaces, does have some nice design touches. The subtle diamond pattern of the seats is pleasing to the eye. The HVAC vents and door handles work well together. Kudos to Mitsubishi for keeping the center stack controls easy to use.

One flaw would be the speedometer design. The miles left on charge figure should be larger. The battery charge gauge seems like a redundant waste of space. All EV drivers want to know is how many miles are left before the batteries quit.

Performance

Performance
5

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV comes with an electric motor that produces 66 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. The EPA reports that the i-MiEV can travel 62 miles on a fully charged battery, and that it gets a mpg-equivalent of 126/99 city/highway.

While the i-MiEV's electric motor provides instant torque from 0 rpm, its 145 pound-feet cannot offset the 66 horsepower and the 2,579 pound curb weight. Yes, that's light for a car but not for this powertrain, which moves the i-MiEV from 0 to 60 mph in about 13 to 14 seconds according to various reports.

Once underway, the i-MiEV does provide a smooth ride and nice steering. You just won't spend a lot of time in the passing lane.

The i-MiEV has three drive modes: D, Eco and B. D gives you the most performance. Eco maximizes your range by reducing your overall power. It's the mode to drive in, except on hills and in passing situations. B gets more out of your regenerative braking and is best used in stop-and-go traffic when you want to build up your battery reserves.

Technology

Technology
6

It might seem surprising to see heated seats as standard in a stripped down model. What most people don't know is heated seats are almost a necessity in EVs driven in colder climes. It's more energy efficient to warm the body through heated seats than HVAC. The i-MiEV does lack a heated steering wheel – a problem easily solved with winter gloves.

Otherwise, in its base trim, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV doesn't offer much technology. It comes standard with a basic audio system with six speakers and power windows with driver one-touch auto-down feature. It makes sense because you don't want energy-sapping features in an EV.

The optional $2,000 navigation package gives one the bells and whistles of a 7-inch touch screen, a hands-free link system with Bluetooth, a USB port, redundant steering wheel controls and a rearview camera system. It seems like an expensive option package for what it delivers.

Safety

Safety
7

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV has advanced dual-stage front air bags, front seat-mounted side air bags, and side curtain air bags. It also offers active stability control with traction control logic.

There should be some concern with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) scores for the i-MiEV. It gets four out of five stars overall and for the frontal crash rating. Its side crash rating is only three stars, with NHTSA expressing possible concerns about factors that could "include (but are not limited to) structural failure or non-intended performance of vehicle components. They can include such things as fuel leakages and door openings."

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
7

Mitsubishi bills the 2016 i-MiEV as the least-expensive EV in America with a delivered cost of $23,845 before a $7,500 tax credit. However, based on EPA numbers, its range of 62 miles also limits how far you can travel more than other electric cars. You will spend more for vehicles like the Volkswagen eGolf, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Spark, but each goes at least 20 miles farther on a charge based on EPA figures.

For $23,845 you get a pretty spartan vehicle. There is that $7,500 tax credit, which sounds good, but you need to speak with a tax professional to see if you will qualify for the full credit. 

It all has to do with your tax liability. It's a worthwhile conversation to have, especially when comparing the i-MiEV with hybrid vehicles and the fact you may be financing that $7,500.

Obviously the Mitsubishi i-MiEV has strong fuel economy numbers but this is still a $23,000 car that feels like a $12,000 vehicle. Simply slamming the car doors demonstrates that it's a fairly unsubstantial car.

Overall

Overall
6

When the Mitsubishi i-MiEV was first introduced it had little competition. Four years later vehicles like the Volkswagen eGolf, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Spark are so much better for not significantly much more money. The i-MiEV doesn't have the performance or ride quality to justify its higher price when there are so many great subcompacts on the market for significantly less money and without the range anxiety.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV really only makes sense if you can get it for a good price below $19,000 before the tax credit. Even that might still be a little too much to pay.