Get ready folks, because the EV cars are here!
Well, not quite.
While the 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV may draw eyes due to it’s low price of $22,995, but it falls short in terms of range and long in terms of charge times.
The i-MiEV has a 49-kilowatt electric motor, developing 66 hp and 145 lb/ft of torque. Power goes to the rear wheels via a single speed transmission. Range is 62 miles per charge. This translates to an EPA-rated fuel economy of 126 city/99 highway/112 combined MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent)
The 2014 i-MiEV can accept all levels of charging. If you can find one of the high speed Level 3 charging stations in your area, you can top up to 80% of your range in 30 minutes. Level 2 stations are much more prevalent, but expect to wait 7-8 hours for a full charge. Charging at home via a 120 volt outlet (Level 1) and you’ll have to leave the i-MiEV plugged in over night.
While the range is 62 miles, don’t expect to actually get 62 miles for each charge. In my time with the i-MiEV, range dropped twice as quickly as actual miles driven while in town, but seemed to be almost equal while highway driving.
|Miles Driven||Decrease in Range||Conditions
|3.0||7.0||city, a/c on, regular mode|
|2.6||6.0||city, a/c on, regular mode|
||10||city, a/c off, eco mode|
|18.8||20||highway, a/c off, eco mode|
There are three different driving modes. Drive mode gives you all the beans, Eco mode offers less power to preserve as much range as possible. There is also a mode that boosts regenerative braking.
Behind the wheel the i-MiEV is fine in the city. While not exactly peppy, it’s nimble enough to navigate crowded city streets easily. I expected light steering but was pleasantly surprised. It was well weighted and direct enough to be almost fun.
The highway was a different story. The 15″ wheels are wrapped in some very skinny rubber, and they do nothing to smooth the ride. The slow acceleration means merging can be an exercise in playing chicken.
Inside the ride is quiet, but not very comfortable. At 5’9 I never really found a comfortable driving position as the steering wheel neither tilts nor telescopes. The backseat is pretty tiny and is very flat and unsupportive. It’s fine for quick trips to the grocery store, but that’s about it.
Behind the seats is 13.2 cubic feet of space, but that expands to 50.4 cubic feet with the 50/50 split seats folded down.
The interior is very basic. Materials are very hard and plastic; the only leather can be found on the steering wheel and shift knob. You also get air-conditioning, full power accessories, and heated front seats. And yet with all the simplicity, the climate control can be activated remotely. Optional equipment includes a USB port, cargo net, blue LED interior lighting, and rear parking sensors.
Standard safety equipment includes stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes (although you only get discs in the front, the rears are drums), front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. The i-MiEV will also emit a sound while traveling at low speeds to let pedestrians know it’s on the move.
From the outside, the car looks like something you might have had in your elementary school bug collection. The headlights bulge out but there is little front overhang. Instead the windshield is raked back at an awkward angle. There is a bit of a fender flare, which looks out of place going over the tiny 15″ wheels. From the rear, however, it merely looks quirky, like a smaller Kia Soul. My test vehicle was painted in Aqua Marine Blue, certainly the most appealing as other choices are black, white, or silver.
While customers might be willing to take the bad in exchange for the low price, but there are other options out there. They may cost more but they offer a greater range, which really is the holy grail of EVs.
The Nissan Leaf has a range of 84 miles and comes in at $29,010. The Honda Fit EV gets 82 miles to the charge, but is considerably more expensive, at $36,625.
There is one less expensive choice out there: the Smart Electric. Range is similar at 68 miles but it starts at $12,490 and you can get a convertible for $15,490.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I have to give the 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV a Rent it. Other EVs offer more range and interior comfort. Even though they cost more, it’s well worth the money.
Watch Roman take the Smart Electric for a spin in San Francisco!