2017 Toyota Mirai
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2017 Toyota Mirai

There are a number of different routes you can go down these days if you want to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly in the automotive part of your daily life. The easiest way is to go for a hybrid, although a plug-in hybrid with the ability to run on purely electric power is obviously a lot greener. You can of course go all-electric with an EV, but that does place a restriction on range that can make longer journeys a little impractical unless you’re in no hurry whatsoever to get to your destination. However, there's now the 2017 Toyota Mirai, which is powered by electricity generated onboard using hydrogen. So, let’s take a closer look.

The powertrain

Choosing the standout feature of some vehicles can be tricky, but with the 2017 Toyota Mirai the powertrain is the only pace to start. The wheels of the Mirai are powered from a 114-kilowatt (153-horsepower) fuel cell that's situated underneath the front seats, which then sends electricity to the electric motor that provides the propulsion. The fuel cell converts hydrogen from the Toyota's two cylindrical fuel tanks that are mounted between the rear wheels under the load deck into electricity. Additional energy can also be provided by the 1.6-kwh nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, which is employed to deliver short boosts of energy to achieve the maximum power output when it's needed, and that's needed because fuel cells tend operate at pretty steady output levels.

Performance

Anyone who’s experienced an electric car will know how well they accelerate, and the Mirai is no different as it really does get to 30 mph pretty rapidly. Beyond that point acceleration is considerably less exhilarating, but this is a vehicle with zero emissions as its mission and not an impressive quarter-mile time, after all. With just over 150 horsepower in a vehicle weighing more than 4,000 pounds, drivers will have to get used to a little forward thinking when it comes to merging and overtaking on the highway, but like any new vehicle, driving to the Mirai's characteristics soon becomes second nature.

Styling

If you want a low-emission vehicle that looks just like a regular model, Toyota has plenty of hybrids and plug-ins to choose from. If you’re the sort of person who doesn't want people to know what you’re driving is a little different from the norm, you probably wouldn't consider a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle at this point in time anyway. The Mirai looks very different, even compared to the current Prius range. Some commentators have been pretty unkind to the way the Mirai looks, but this is a cutting-edge, hi-tech piece of technology so why wouldn’t you want it to look futuristic? Some styling cues are necessary rather than purely aesthetic, such as the huge intakes that are for feeding air to cool the various radiators, compressors, and electronics. The Mirai is seen by Toyota as the start of the future for sustainable driving, and it looks like it too.

Practicality

Not every gas station has a hydrogen pump, which is why the Mirai is still only sold in specific areas of California right now. For that reason, it's not the car for a Route 66 vacation or an environmentally friendly attempt at the Cannonball Run just yet. The Mirai does have a claimed range on a full complement of hydrogen of 312 miles though, which is more than practical enough for the daily commute as long as you live within reach of a hydrogen refueling point.

The incredibly cutting-edge 2017 Toyota Mirai is available now from Toyota of Downtown LA, so get in touch now for more information and to ask about test driving the future.