Car of the Year

Toyota Mirai: 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Finalist

Forward-Thinking Four-Door Fuel Cell Vehicle

Forward-Thinking Four-Door Fuel Cell Vehicle

We Like: Its ride quality, quick refueling, unconventional driveline.

We Don’t Like: The styling, scarce hydrogen stations, questionable use of electricity.

When the Toyota Prius earned its Car of the Year title in 2004, little did we know the public would buy more than 100,000 Priuses each year from 2005 on. No less significant, the Chevrolet Volt earned our Golden Calipers in 2011. The 2013 Tesla Model S did, as well. All three were groundbreaking cars destined to alter the automotive landscape, and indeed they have.

Stay tuned to MotorTrend.com as the 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year contenders and finalists are revealed in advance of the official winner announcement on the evening of November 16. Learn about other Car of the Year contenders and finalists at the links below. Check out the Car of the Year introduction HERE, read about the evaluation process HERE, and discover how our Of The Year awards have evolved HERE.

This arc from hybrid through plug-in hybrid to all-electric seems to point to the 2016 Toyota Mirai, which is powered by electricity but fueled by hydrogen. Effectively, this is an electric car that needs only five minutes to fill its hydrogen tanks rather than hours tethered to a supply of electrons.

With an admirable 8.9-second 0-60 time but requiring 130 feet to stop from that speed, plus paltry grip of just 0.74 g around our skidpad, this is not a car that thrills. Conversely, the judges gave it high marks for its stunningly quiet operation, plush ride over rough surfaces, and excellent sight lines. These contribute to it being a “real car” that a trailblazing (though well-funded) buyer can actually buy (only in California for now).

And here’s where the future runs headlong into the present. At $58,335 USD before the limited-time $7,500 USD Toyota rebate or leased at $499 USD per month, this isn’t a new car the average American could afford. Not to mention that to be refueled during COTY evaluation, the car made five 260-mile (418-km) round trips in a covered trailer pulled by a turbodiesel truck. A valid concern voiced during our deliberations is that the energy—regardless of the original source—required to produce hydrogen through established processes then compress it to 10,000 psi would be better used by simply putting it into a battery.

The Mirai certainly excels in engineering excellence and performance of intended function. And it follows a long line of forward-thinkers like the Prius, Volt, and Model S. But does it have what it takes to be the 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year?

2016 Toyota Mirai
BASE PRICE $58,335
PRICE AS TESTED $58,335
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-motor, FWD, 4-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 151-hp/247-lb-ft AC electric motor
TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 192.5 x 71.5 x 60.4 in
WHEELBASE 109.4 in
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,098 lb (58/42%)
ACCELERATION, 0-60 MPH 8.9 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.9 sec @ 81.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 130 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.74 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.8 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 67/67/67 mpg-e
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 50/50 kW-hrs/100 miles (gas equiv)

2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contenders:

2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Finalists: