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2021 Toyota Mirai XLE Review 2021

With the US introduction of the Mirai in 2015, Toyota became a trailblazer in hydrogen propulsion for passenger cars. The Mirai is essentially an EV that runs on hydrogen (making it a fuel cell electric vehicle, or an FCEV), so its advantage over rival EVs is that it’s essentially as fast to recharge as pulling up to the gas pump. And to make the all-new second-generation 2021 Mirai more enticing, it gets sleek new styling, rear-wheel drive, and longer range. But since the Mirai is only sold in California and on the Hawaiian island of Oahu due to charging infrastructure limitations, most people will never be able to buy one.

FCEVs and Hydrogen Power

Like all FCEVs, the Mirai employs a fuel cell stack that combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity, with water as the only emission vented beneath the car. The electricity is used to power an electric motor that drives the wheels, while an auxiliary battery is used to start the car, supply vehicle accessories, store energy captured from regenerative braking, and provide supplemental power to the electric traction motor.

The 2021 Mirai’s new rear-wheel-drive configuration allows room for three hydrogen tanks and 11 pounds of hydrogen, instead of five pounds and two tanks like the previous model. The larger hydrogen capacity increases driving range to just over 400 miles, or by 30% compared with the outgoing Mirai.

There’s no need to charge the battery, which can take several hours in an EV even with fast charging. Instead, you simply fill the tank with hydrogen in about five minutes. As it did with the first-generation Mirai, Toyota includes up to $15,000 of complimentary hydrogen.

The 2021 Mirai’s fuel-cell stack is located under the hood instead of beneath a raised section of the passenger compartment floor as in the first-gen model, thereby increasing passenger space. The car also uses a smaller and lighter but higher capacity lithium-ion battery that fits between the rear seat and trunk and boosts cabin space.

The Mirai produces 182 horsepower, 31 horses more than last model, but at 221-lb.-ft. of torque, it gets 26 fewer lb.-ft. less than its predecessor. Toyota contends that the car’s transmission, an electric motor transaxle with the electric motor directly geared to a single reduction gear that drives the output shaft, actually increases torque to the wheels over the previous generation.  

Trims and Design

Unlike the first-gen Mirai, the all-new 2021 model comes in two trim levels. The XLE trim we tested starts at $49,500 and comes standard with auto-leveling LED headlamps, simulated leather seating, heated front seats, an eight-way driver and four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and ignition, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and an electronic parking brake. The advanced technology package ($1,410) plus premium color ($425) increased the final sticker price to $51,335, plus $995 for delivery.

Standard infotainment tech includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth for hands-free calls and music streaming, embedded navigation, AM/FM HD Radio, satellite radio, a 14-speaker JBL sound system with a subwoofer, and wireless smartphone charging. You also get Wi-Fi with up to 2GB of data within a three-month trial, and one year of Toyota’s Safety Connect telematics services, Remote Connect via a smartphone app, and live operator Destination Assist. Comprehensive driver assists such as front collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection are standard.

2021 Toyota Mirai XLE wireless charging mat

The Mirai Limited starts at $66,00 and comes with the Advanced Technology Package offered as an option on the XLE that includes a surround-view camera, front and rear parking sensors with automated braking, and front seat footwell lighting. The Limited also adds ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, three-zone automatic climate control (two zones in front and one zone in the back with separate controls), ambient lighting, and a panorama sunroof.

The new Mirai is longer, lower, and wider than its predecessor, and looks more like a sleek sedan than a science experiment. Switching to RWD allows Toyota to ditch the previous model’s Prius V underpinnings, and the second-gen Mirai rides on a shorter version of the platform for the Lexus LS sedan. RWD also enables a roomier cabin that seats five instead of four. The interior is also more upscale, with premium materials.

Solid Connectivity

The 2021 Mirai uses the 2020 Toyota Highlander’s 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen, but ditches the SUV’s volume and tuning knobs for tiny buttons that make these functions more difficult to operate (although they’re replicated on the steering wheel). Otherwise, the touch screen is easy to operate and the main menu icons can be chosen and reconfigured in layout.

2021 Toyota Mirai XLE infotainment touch screen

Connectivity is straightforward now that Toyota has finally added Android Auto and Apply CarPlay across its model line, while Amazon Alexa compatibility is new. The 8-inch LCD instrument cluster is adopted from other Toyota vehicles, but features a 4.2-inch display that shows power flow, hydrogen fuel level, and remaining range, and it has an ECO feature to help you maximize fuel efficiency by providing acceleration guidance and scoring for economical driving.

The standard 14-speaker JBL audio system sounds great, especially given the Mirai’s quiet operation and cabin. We also like the large and easily accessible wireless phone charger on the center console and that HD Radio provides data such as weather and traffic for free.

Improved Power

The 2020 Mirai’s extra power is palpable, with better and smoother instantaneous acceleration than the previous model. Although acceleration peaks quickly, the hydrogen powertrain offers more than enough oomph for freeway merging or passing slowpokes at higher speeds. 

Curb weight has grown slightly, but the Mirai’s nearly 50:50 weight distribution and a lower center of gravity makes the sedan feel nimble around corners, while its excellent handling makes driving enjoyable whether on the highway or backroads. Its Lexus-based platform also means it takes on most road imperfections with ease and blocks road noise from entering the interior. That said, although the new model has quieter air and hydrogen pumps, operation is still quite noisy.  

For (Very Few) Early Adopters Only

With EVs starting to gain traction, Toyota is hoping that green-minded car buyers will consider FCEVs. Given the Mirai’s limited availability and the even more limited hydrogen fueling infrastructure, that’s a tall order—even with Toyota throwing in $15,000 in hydrogen fill-ups with the price of the car. But for EV shoppers who don’t want to wait to charge a battery and are looking for a unique vehicle to stand out from the Teslarati, the 2021 Mirai is the only FCEV available that can be purchased and not just leased, making your choice pretty simple.

2021 Toyota Mirai XLE Specs

Body Type Sedan
Drivetrain Rear-Wheel-Drive
Seating Capacity 5
Fuel Type Hydrogen
Engine Electric Motor
Transmission 1-Speed Automatic

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