Toyota is hoping to steal customers away from battery electric vehicles with its second-generation Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric sedan. Although limited hydrogen fueling infrastructure remains a significant problem, the 2021 Toyota Mirai is now more competitive against its strictly plug-in electric counterparts thanks to its streamlined new design, improved agility, and longer range. But can it challenge one of the most impressive, value-packed long-range EVs on the market, the Tesla Model 3? Keep reading to find out how the two electric vehicles compare.
Mirai vs. Model 3: Performance
The Model 3 and Mirai are different types of electric vehicles. Unlike a traditional battery EV, a fuel cell electric vehicle generates electricity onboard from hydrogen fuel. A fuel cell stack combines the hydrogen with oxygen from the air, and an electric current is produced. Water is the only emission.
Despite these differences, the Mirai feels much like a battery electric vehicle because of its electric drive motor’s smooth, lag-free power off the line. Although acceleration is effortless in the Mirai, the car is not particularly quick. Drivers won’t have a problem merging onto the freeway or passing other cars thanks to its well-timed power delivery, but this isn’t the car to pick if you’re looking for a quick launch. Toyota estimates a 0–60 mph time of 9.2 seconds; we have yet to test this number out for ourselves. The Mirai makes a modest 182 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque.
The Tesla Model 3, on the other hand, is one of the quickest sedans we’ve ever tested. Driving a Performance model with 450 hp and 471 lb-ft of torque, we zipped to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds. A Long Range variant took an extra 0.9 second to hit the mark. The Mirai benefits from precise steering and feels planted around corners, but the Model 3 is our favorite canyon carver of the two; its excellent agility and minimal body roll make it a top-notch sport sedan.
Mirai vs. Model 3: Range
Sorry, Tesla, but Toyota has the advantage here. That is, if EPA estimates prove correct. The Tesla Model 3 is rated to travel up to 353 miles, but the Mirai is said to go 402 miles on a tank of hydrogen.
Of course, range can vary in the real world. We have yet to conduct our own range test on the new hydrogen sedan, but our long-term 2016 Mirai couldn’t quite keep up with its 312-mile EPA rating.
Toyota Mirai Range
XLE: 402 miles
Limited: 357 miles
Tesla Model 3 Range
Standard Range Plus: 263 miles
Long Range: 353 miles
Performance: 315 miles
Mirai vs. Model 3: Interior
Both models enjoy upscale interiors. The Toyota Mirai benefits from soft-touch materials throughout the cabin. The swoopy dashboard features bold piano black trim, a few rows of buttons, and a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen. No materials feel cheap—not something you can say for every Toyota.
If you’re more of a minimalist, you’ll definitely appreciate the Model 3’s interior. It eschews virtually all physical buttons for one massive 15-inch touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. This screen serves as a media display, climate control center, and even the speedometer. Even though we appreciate the look, the screen comes with a significant learning curve since it has many submenus that encompass every function you need. That said, the Tesla benefits from fancy features like video streaming, in-car karaoke, and Navigate on Autopilot capability. Like the Mirai, the Model 3 has synthetic “leather” in a bid toward sustainability.
Mirai vs. Model 3: Prices
In terms of pricing, Tesla wins if you just look at the purchase cost. The Model 3 is priced from $37,990 for the Standard Range Plus model. Long Range variants go from $46,990, and Performance models start at $54,990. Tesla has run out of federal tax credits, but state incentives still apply.
The 2021 Toyota Mirai starts at $50,455 for the XLE trim and $66,955 for the Limited model. This doesn’t include tax credits. California, the only state where the Mirai is sold, provides a $4,500 rebate subject to income requirements. The federal tax credit is $8,000, but it expires at the end of 2020, and it’s unclear if it will be renewed. To sweeten the pot, Toyota is offering $15,000 of free hydrogen fuel in the form of a prepaid credit card.
So, Can the 2021 Toyota Mirai Compete With the Tesla Model 3?
Both the Toyota Mirai and Tesla Model 3 benefit from strong driving dynamics, plenty of range, and inviting interiors. However, they appeal to very different buyers. The Model 3 will be a top choice for most consumers, from enthusiasts to everyday drivers looking for a practical and relatively affordable go-anywhere 50-state EV. The Mirai, though comfortable and fun to drive in its own way, will remain a niche product for Californians willing to limit themselves to areas with hydrogen infrastructure.
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