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2021 Toyota Mirai: Efficiently Elegant

The new 2021 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is $9,000 less expensive, much better looking, and more efficient than ever before.

2021 Toyota Mirai – Rebalanced and Reimagined

2021 Toyota Mirai - pressroom.toyota.com

2021 Toyota Mirai – pressroom.toyota.com |  Shop Toyota Mirai on Carsforsale.com

Toyota’s first-generation Toyota Mirai was fighting an uphill battle from the start. First, it was powered by a fairly new and rarely used hydrogen fuel cell technology. Then there was the cost starting at nearly $60,000. And finally, it was considered by pretty much everyone to be, let’s call it, “aesthetically deficient”. Toyota addressed all these concerns head-on with the second generation of the Mirai, making it more efficient, much better looking, and substantially cutting the sticker price resulting in a much more enticing proposition for buyers.

All these improvements make that uphill battle a bit more manageable for the 2021 Toyota Mirai. And once price, design, and driving dynamics are all taken into account, the Mirai turns out to be a legitimate alternative to full electrics from the likes of Tesla.

2021 Mirai Specs

2021 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell - pressroom.toyota.com
2021 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell - pressroom.toyota.com

The big news for the 2021 Toyota Mirai from a technology standpoint is the all-new hydrogen fuel cell system. rebuilt their system from the ground up and not only is it smaller (by roughly 20%), it’s also 10% more efficient while adding 30% more range and 30 horsepower. The new system puts out 182 horsepower and 221lb.-ft. of torque; not hair-on-fire numbers but the best currently available in a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

The XLE trim will come with a range of 402 miles and get 74 MPGe. The slightly heavier Limited trim will offer a range of 357 miles and 65 MPGe. A major departure from electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell cars can refuel in just around five minutes. On the other hand, California is the only state where the Mirai is being sold and the only state that currently has the infrastructure to fuel hydrogen vehicles.

Driving the Mirai

2021 Toyota Mirai - pressroom.toyota.com
2021 Toyota Mirai - pressroom.toyota.com

Another major change for the Mirai is the new driving dynamics, largely improved thanks to that change in fuel cell technology. With more compact fuel cells, Toyota was able to move much of the system to the front of the car, leaving the electric motor in back to run the rear wheels (that’s right, the Mirai is now RWD, too). This change means the car has been rebalanced from 58:42 front to back to a nearly even 50:50 distribution.

That new balance and a well-damped suspension make the 2021 Mirai a much nimbler car than before and the torque from the electric motor provides a decent punch when you press on the accelerator. And yet, the Mirai feels faster than it is. Toyota quotes a rather odd acceleration number for the Mirai, that it travels between 25 mph and 45 mph in 2.8 seconds. The Mirai’s 0-to-60 time, however, is approximately 9.8 seconds, roughly analogous to a Prius. But the 2021 Mirai is quite consciously not the Prius-like vehicle it was in its prior iteration. Now, not only does it handle and drive well, it also looks great, too.

Lexus Light

2021 Toyota Mirai - pressroom.toyota.com
2021 Toyota Mirai - pressroom.toyota.com

Last we saw the Mirai, it resembled a funhouse mashup of a Prius and Corolla. But Toyota went back to the drawing board and addressed what dealers, buyers, and car journalists all considered a bit of a visual self-own. And the results are impressive. Because of all the hardware moving up front, the Mirai sports a long, GT-like front end. The roof slopes down toward the back, though Toyota thankfully doesn’t try calling it a “coupe” as a result. As vastly improved as outside of the Mirai is, it’s the inside that really impresses.

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The interior of the 2021 Toyota Mirai is as nice as you’ll find in any new car with a Toyota badge on it. It’s clear from the moment you get in, there’s a lot being borrowed, at least in approach, from Lexus. Soft touch materials abound, including generous use of SofTex synthetic leather. Copper or satin-chrome metal accents add to the near-luxury appeal. In many ways the Mirai interior reminded me of the newest incarnation of the Toyota Venza, another low-emission vehicle seeking to attract buyers with an interior upgrade from the typical Toyota. We can only hope, with competition like Mazda and Hyundai/Kia both putting snazzy interiors into their cars, that the Mirai and Venza are evidence of a new emphasis on higher interior quality for Toyota.

Mirai Features, Trims, and Pricing

2021 Toyota Mirai - pressroom.toyota.com
2021 Toyota Mirai - pressroom.toyota.com

There will be two trims for the 2021 Toyota Mirai, that’s one more than it had previously. The XLE trim starts at $49,500, that’s $9,000 less than before, and comes with a generous list of standard features and options. These include a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, digital gauge cluster, power seats, and a 14-speaker JBL stereo system.

The Limited trim will start at $66,995 and adds items like ambient lighting, three-zone automatic climate control, power rear sunshade, and heated and ventilated seats. Leases start at $499/mo for the XLE trim and $549/mo for the Limited.

Adding Up the Math on the 2021 Mirai

2021 Toyota Mirai - pressroom.toyota.com

2021 Toyota Mirai – pressroom.toyota.com |  Shop Toyota Mirai on Carsforsale.com

The 2021 Toyota Mirai is more efficient, looks great, and drives better than ever before. And not only does it sport a significantly lower starting price, that number is further reduced with a federal tax credit of $8,000 (assuming it’s renewed in 2021) and another $4,500 tax rebate in California. Additionally, Toyota is giving away $15,000 worth of hydrogen to leasees and buyers.

Assuming those tax incentives are renewed next year, that’s $12,500 off plus free fuel for what is otherwise one of the nicest Toyotas you can buy. Oh, and there’s the small matter of doing your part to save the planet, too. The new 2021 Toyota Mirai adds up to a compelling addition to the company’s lineup, a significant step forward in hydrogen fuel cell technology, and pretty good value to boot (at least for those living in California.)

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Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

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