2012 MITSUBISHI I-MIEV ES
Used Hatchback - 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV ES in Vacaville, Ca
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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
New all-electric commuter car.
The 2012 Mitsubishi i Electric Vehicle was designed to allow a driving experience not much different from that of a regular car. The Mitsubishi i is an all-electric car, so there's no reason to stop at a gas station. Instead, you plug it into an outlet to charge it.
After spending a week in one, we found the Mitsubishi i Electric Vehicle doesn't function in any way that's significantly different from a conventional car, other than the distance you can travel before having to recharge the batteries. Its range between charges is 62 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA rated the Mitsubishi i the most fuel efficient vehicle in 2012.
Starting at $29,125, the Mitsubishi i Electric Vehicle, also known as the MiEV, is the least expensive electric car from a major manufacturer. By comparison, the Nissan Leaf retails for $32,780, but it comes standard with navigation. The Leaf SL with a quick charge port, upgraded upholstery and other features lists for $33,720. A similarly equipped Mitsubishi i SE with the Premium Package retails for $33,915. Federal tax credits of up to $7,500 are available for buyers of electric vehicles such as the Mitsubishi i, and some states offer credits.
To start the Mitsubishi i, you insert a key into the steering wheel stalk as with a conventional car. Since it's only got electric power, you have to remind yourself, as we did, that there's no engine noise to listen for. Instead, you look for a Ready indicator light to be illuminated within the instrument panel. You also want to look for a number amongst the instrument panel's LED gauges, that being the one farthest to the right. It gives you one number and it's the miles left before you have entirely depleted the lithium-ion battery pack.
A 16 kW electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack will take you a distance of up to 62 miles when fully charged, according to the EPA. There's a line-graph style gauge that shows the charge similar to a thermometer's setting. When you use the defroster or air-conditioning, it affects the range.
The MiEV, for Mitsubishi i Electric Vehicle, comes with a remote device that allows communication with the various vehicle functions. For example, the indicator will light up during charging of the batteries; it blinks when the manual charging is pressed. You can also set the climate control (A/C, heater and defrost) remotely, actuating a pre-defroster mode and turning the air-conditioner off. It's just one example of the fact that this automobile requires that its owners become more involved with it than people have been with more conventional cars.
Charging has four elements, in any case: a charge port that is under a flap just like that for a gasoline-powered car; a charge connector; and finally, a charging source. Using a 110-volt outlet, estimated time for a complete charge, after the batteries have been exhausted, is about 22 hours. Using a 240-volt outlet reduces the charging time to about 6 hours. A quick charge, with a public charging station, is about 30 minutes for an 80 percent charge. (The 12-volt starter battery will be automatically charged, during the charging process for the main-drive lithium-ion battery pack.)
The shift lever can be set at one of three settings: D, for Drive, which allows 100 percent torque in response to the driver's foot on the accelerator; Eco, which reduces the rate of battery consumption to maximize range; and B, which increases regenerative braking (charging the batteries every time you set on the brake pedal).
Step off from a standing start and you've got full torque, 145 pound-feet, right away. It's what comes with driving an electric car. Acceleration feels brisk and no different than what you'd experience in any compact car. However, it reportedly takes 15 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph in the Mitsubishi i, making it one of the slowest cars available for sale in the U.S.
Take it onto the freeway, cruise at 60 miles-per-hour and the energy consumption rate is no different than cruising at lower speeds. It's very quiet, and the sound of air slipping by is the only noise you'll hear.
The 2012 Mitsubishi i comes in two trim levels. The Mitsubishi i ES ($29,125) comes standard with electric manual air conditioning with micron filter, electric compressor cabin heater, driver seat heater, on-board recharging system with 120-volt portable charging cable, four-speaker 100-watt AM/FM/CD audio with MP3/WMA playback, remote keyless entry, power locks, power Windows with driver's one-touch auto-down, variable intermittent windshield wipers, rear window defroster, auxiliary 12-volt DC power outlet, 50/50-split fold-down and reclining rear seats, four-passenger seating capacity, six-way manual adjustable driver's seat, four-way manual adjustable front-passenger's seat, driver visor vanity mirror, floor mats. The Quick Charge Package ($700) includes a Level 3 (CHAdeMO) DC quick charging port, battery warming system and heated sideview mirrors.
The Mitsubishi i SE ($31,125) gets upgraded seat material, an eight-speaker, 360-watt audio system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, two-tone instrument panel (brown/black), silver interior accents, door trim with cloth insert, 15-inch alloy wheels, auto on/off headlamps, fog lights, passenger vanity mirror. An SE Premium Package ($2,790) adds an HDD navigation system with rearview camera, FUSE Handsfree Link System with USB port, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and a Level 3 (CHAdeMO) DC quick charging port.
An optional Cold Zone Package ($150) includes a lithium-ion battery warming system and heated side mirrors. (All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Safety features include front airbags, driver and front-passenger seat-mounted side-impact air bags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact air bags for front and rear-seat outboard occupants, the mandated Tire Pressure Monitoring System, LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren), 3-point seatbelts for all seating positions. Active safety features include Active Stability Control (ASC) with Traction Control Logic, 4-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, brake override system. Also standard is a high-voltage cut-off system and the Approaching Vehicle Alert System for pedestrians.
This Mitsubishi i has the look of a transportation module from the movie Bladerunner with wheels. It's taller than a Toyota Yaris, but it has a narrow foot-print. In fact, it's two inches narrower than a Fiat 500. It's wider than the version marketed in Japan.
The roof line allows good visibility, though a rearview camera is still included with the navigation system.
Form follows function is the maxim that applies to the design of the i. The short overhang up front is the result of a rear-mounted electric motor and battery pack. There a rear hatch that works fine and even heated rear-view mirrors on the sides. Nonetheless, the look of the Mitsubishi electric vehicle elicits responses such as, 'Is that a real car?'.
The first thing that might come to mind when you get inside the Mitsubishi i Electric Vehicle is how ordinary it is. The instrument panel uses digital read-outs and the center console has the usual easily understood knobs to control climate controls, you'd expect in most any Japanese automobile.
The fact that this version of the MiEV is wider than its European counterpart reflects itself in another layer of dash. You can notice that in a gap at the base of the front window pillars.
It's comforting to know that the 88 cell, lithium-ion battery pack is contained within a watertight, stainless-steel cell underneath the floor of the passenger compartment. Rear-seat passengers get the benefit of having enough head room that even six-footers can ride back there in relative comfort.
The rear hatch door allows for cargo loading. To best utilize what there is, it's best to make grocery runs with the rear seats folded flat.
Unlike the typical electric car, which can surprise the driver with the instant full-torque at throttle, the Mitsubishi engineers have devised something called Smooth Start Control that electronically regulates the acceleration so there's a more gentle power transition.
The steering felt solid on a winding round through the University of Washington arboretum. That run was made on a rainy, windy night and the feel of the underpinnings felt solidly planted. On hard cornering the soft suspension tuning meant some understeer was evident.
The car goes into turns like a leaping cat, but not so deeply that much correction is required. It's fun to drive in the way that the Renault LeCar of the '80s was. Call it econobox cheap thrills.
The brake pedal feel is decent, despite the front disc/rear drum combination, thanks to an electric vacuum pump. In fact, since there's no intake manifold (as found on an internal combustion engine), the electric pump became mandatory to achieve the correct braking functions and pedal feel.
If you want to extend the range of this car, you learn to run with no heat or defrost. The gauge in the right hand of the instrument panel that gives you the number of miles left (before you need to recharge the batteries for optimum use), will drop about five miles, if you put on the defrost. That's because it's pulling electricity; which is what this car's lifeblood is.
Once we saw that occur, we ran on a winter's night, we turned off the front window defrost and watched the numbers of miles the system estimated were left, jump back from 57 to 62.
The Mitsubishi i Electric Vehicle appears to be well-engineered and we enjoyed driving it. Ownership of any electric car requires thoughtful dedication. Drive more than 60 miles and you'll be looking for someplace to plug in. Mitsubishi i Electric Vehicle buyers are eligible for a federal tax credit of $7,500 for electric cars, and several states offer deductions. Of course, there is paperwork involved.
Terry Parkhurst filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drive of the MiEV in Seattle.
Mitsubishi i ES ($29,125), SE ($31,125).
Options As Tested
Premium Package ($2,790) with 40 Gigabytes HDD navigation system with music server and real-time traffic reportage (RDS), rearview camera, FUSE hands-free link system with USB port, steering wheel and audio controls, quick charge port; Cold Zone Package ($150) with battery warming system for optimum cold weather use, heated side-view mirrors.
Mitsubishi i SE ($31,125).The i-MiEV is Mitsubishi's first foray into the North American all-electric powered vehicle market. The i-MiEV utilizes an electric motor, lithium-ion battery pack and rear-wheel drive. The electric motor produces 66-hp and the batteries store enough energy for an EPA rated driving range of 62 miles per charge. Available interior appointments include seating for four, a navigation system, air conditioning, heated driver seat, power windows/mirrors/door locks, and more. Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control, tire pressure monitoring system, side and side curtain airbags. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is all-new for 2012.
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