By KBB.com Editors
Mitsubishi figured the fastest way to bring an electric car to market was to take an existing micro-car platform, add an electric powertrain, and then meet all U.S. safety and emissions requirements needed to bring the car here. That's the theory behind the 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, but unfortunately for Mitsubishi, other manufactures have come up with a far better plan. On its surface, the i-MiEV looks like the perfect commuter car, easy to park in small spaces and requiring only an electric charge to send it on its way. But, the i-MiEV is rather crude, both in its technology and interior features. Its biggest plus is the low price, which may be enough to sway those looking for a second car purely for in-town errands.
If you're looking for a low-priced electric car, the 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV is a contender. Though not as polished as the Ford Focus or Nissan Leaf electric cars, the i-MiEV is doable if limited to urban runs in warm-weather climates.
If you need to go further than 62 miles a day, but you still want to be green, a plug-in hybrid like the Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius plug-in makes a better choice. Those looking for a comfortable all-electric vehicle would be better served by the Ford Focus or Nissan Leaf.
Mitsubishi drops the 2014 i-MiEV price nearly $6,100, making it one of the most affordable electric cars on the market. New standard features include heated driver's and passenger seat, a "CHAdeMO" DC quick-charge port, heated side mirrors, rear speakers, a leather-covered steering wheel and shift knob, fog lights, and aluminum-alloy wheels.
Driving Impressions We give Mitsubishi credit for giving the 2014 i-MiEV responsive steering feel and a very maneuverable platform. However, when it comes to smoothing out road imperfections, the i-MiEV's suspension appears...to be MIA. Power delivery is smooth and strong at first, but once in motion the i-MiEV takes its time getting to 60 mph. For this reason, we don't recommend prolonged freeway driving. To achieve the 62-mile cruise range, you'll need to go light on the throttle, and you also won't want to run the in-cabin heater for fear of draining off precious electrons. To help curb a lead foot and put some regenerative energy back into the car's battery, the transmission can be put into "Eco" and "B" modes, respectively. We found the "B" mode to be especially helpful when descending hills, where the extra energy we generated with the brakes gave us a little extra juice around town.
With a starting price nearly $6,000 less than the Nissan Leaf, the i-MiEV's one saving grace is its affordability. Factor in the government's $7,500 tax credit and California's $2,500 electric-vehicle incentive credit, and you could conceivably drive away with a brand-new electric car for around $13,000.
The i-MiEV design may not be beautiful, but it is efficient. The tall profile, big windows and hatchback design maximize space, as does the clever compact electric motor and a battery pack placed underneath the rear seat.
The inside of the 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV isn't all electric-car flash with informational screens to show energy flow or how efficiently the car is being driven. Instead, the look is more like a conventional gasoline-powered car. It uses a regular key, has a regular-looking gas gauge indicating how much "fuel" you have left in your theoretical tank and a regular-looking gear selector. The seats are hard and without much support, rear-seat legroom is minimal and when it gets cold, Mitsubishi advises using the seat heater over the electricity sucking in-cabin heater.Exterior
There's no denying that the 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV has a unique look. With its engine positioned in the rear of the vehicle, this small electro-runner has no need for a long hood. As a result, it sports compact front and rear dimensions and a high roofline – giving it a somewhat jelly-bean-like silhouette. Large windows serve to further cartoonize the i-MiEV hatchback's distinct dimensions, but they also give the driver a good view of the road – always welcome when darting in and out of city traffic (and avoiding bicycle messengers).
A 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV ES comes equipped with niceties like a front-seat heaters, a 50/50-split/folding reclining rear seat, a 4-speaker 100-watt audio system, auxiliary 12-volt DC power outlet, battery warmer, 8A/12A switchable battery charging cable, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and power operation of the windows, mirrors and locks. A quick-charging port for public charging stations (known as a "Level 3" charger – good for an 80-percent charge in about a half hour) is also standard.
Options for the i-MiEV are limited to a few accessories such as rear backup sensors, a USB adapter for iPod, interior illumination kit and body side molding. The standard 120-volt plug-in charge takes almost a full day, so we recommend getting the 240-volt "Level 2" charging station, which can be purchased through Best Buy's Geek Squad and installed in your home garage for faster charging (about 7.0 hours).
The electric heart of the 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV isn't under the hood – it's behind the rear seat. Comprised of an electric motor, a fixed reduction gear transmission and a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery (with an 8-year, 100,000-mile limited warranty), this powertrain delivers 66 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque to the Mitsu's rear wheels. It can go up to 80 mph, so short freeway jaunts are very doable, provided you have enough charge in the battery. On a regular 120-volt home outlet, a full charge for the i-MiEV will take 22.5 hours. On a 240-volt outlet, about seven hours. A public quick-charging station – not a common sight just yet outside of major cities – will charge the battery to 80% in a matter of 30 minutes.
AC synchronous permanent magnetic motor
16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
66 horsepower @ 3,000-6,000 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 0-300 rpm
Projected per-charge range: 62 miles
The 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV ES carries at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $24,000. If you qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit, the i-MiEV slides in closer to $16,500. The Nissan Leaf is priced from $29,650 and the Ford Focus Electric from around $36,000, but both prices are before factoring in any potential credits. If you're wondering how much an i-MiEV might be worth in the future, the jury is still out on electric-car residuals. But as demand for these cars rises, expect to see their values rise as well.
By Jante on Saturday, March 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Peppy motor, low cost to operate, roomy inside"
Cons: "No audio input jack, heater could be better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have had my iMiEV for almost a year and it is a fun and economical car to drive. The electric utility company gave me a separate meter with lower rates at night. My bill runs between $15 and $20 per month! But we have had a unusually cold winter and my feet have gotten cold even with the heater blasting. In the morning the car is in a semi warm garage and I can preheat the car. But when I leave work and the temp is only 12 degrees, my feet are "frozen" by the time I get home."
By Lew on Wednesday, August 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Ok, I've only owned the peanut for a short period of time, but this is my thoughts on the EV. My wife and I drove it through a storm to get it home, around DC & Baltimore. It handled great, was quiet, visibility was excellent, seats were comfy for the 169 mile drive. We stopped 3 times to charge it, just to be on the safe side. Each charge was done at a Nissan dealer and all cost us nothing out of our wallets, zero, nada, 0. It's a courtesy that is provided at all dealers that have the charging stations, which is most Mitsubishi, Nissan, etc. Fuel costs at home are $2.51 for each 100 miles traveled. Since we drive it mainly for work, running errands/groceries, we no longer are concerned about running out of battery power. We charge it overnight with a regular GFI receptacle, designated just for the car, on a 15amp breaker, about once a week. If we plug it in before midnight, it normally has a full charge the next morning. Something of importance, at least for me, I have a hearing problem and with most cars my ears pick up road noise and everything else, but my wife's voice, but not in this car. It's so quiet! Driving it in "D" will give you more speed than you'll get out of most small cars, with a top speed of over 80 mph, ours will never see that. I'm 6' 5" tall and I have tons of head and leg room. I remember my wife saying how much room she had in the back seat during the demo drive. We normally leave the back seats down and use it for our shopping, etc. We are considering another and we may just rent a vehicle for our out of town LONG drives, like so many others are doing. Gas savings will be about $9,800 every 5 years. Battery warranty is for 8 years or 100,000 miles, which ever comes first. If you have never driven an electric car, your really missing out on the future and how enjoyable these cars are. I hope this review helps those of you that are on the fence and considering these amazing cars. Have a wonderful day!"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Bill on Tuesday, October 02, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very green, economical and great fun!"
Cons: "A convertible and/or pickup option would be nice."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"One car family. Works great teamed with solar photo-voltaic. Nice on highways too. Amazing turning radius."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By stan_cz on Thursday, August 16, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "economy, smart hatchback design, zippy"
Cons: "no center arm rest"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have this car for a half year and it became the primary car in our family. Our kids, 3-year old twins love it, too. The car completely changed my way of thinking as owner and driver. Going to a gas station is now hassle to me. Range anxiety is non existent as I learned that I need to think just a little before going for a trip. If the expected distance is above 80 miles, I take our Jetta TDI, that simple. Very recently, I have taken my iMiEV for a long trip to test its range when driving up to 40 MPH w/o A/C. I was able to get 93.4 miles with 1 mile remaining. No need to reach for the hidden reserves. Cons: I miss the central arm rest. Also, the road and wind noise at high speeds is so strong, that it would be nice to have speed sensitive volume control on radio. The bottom line, no matter what your excuses are, the technology for EVs is already out there. My motto is: «I prefer to drive imported car on domestic fuel rather than domestic car on imported fuel.»"
17 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By slab on Thursday, May 24, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "money saver"
Cons: "cup holders in front of vents"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"excellent car for what it is for. i'm pushing car to limit and have had no problems. getting used to distance can go learning how to get most out of charge is biggest change."
10 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By jray3 on Monday, March 26, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, most affordable EV."
Cons: "low dealer knowledge"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I've put 3500 miles on my i so far, and a few hundred on a Leaf, which rides like a Buick in comparison to the i, but the i is more enjoyable due to the multiple driving modes and responsive chassis. Highway speed and the jellybean shape that only looks slippery makes the range guessometer drop like a rock, so I wish a larger battery option were available. After getting to know the car, I don't hesitate to take on a 60 mile round trip, and it has quickly become the family's prime mover. Do your research, as CHAdeMO is available on the base model, but is not a dealer upgrade item!"
22 people out of 24 found this review helpful