The 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV subcompact hatchback is the cheapest new all-electric car. It’s also relatively old, having been around for a decade. That means its range is not great (59 miles), and its charging time is leisurely (14 hours when plugged into a 120-volt domestic source). However, the battery can reach 80 percent of its capacity in 30 minutes at a Level 3 fast-charging station.
While the desire to supply low-priced personal transportation that is emissions-free (not taking into account how the electricity might be produced) is a positive thing, there are also several negatives to the i-MiEV that should make a potential buyer think twice.
What’s New for 2017?
No significant changes for this year. See the 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV models for sale near you
What We Like
Low purchase price
What We Don’t
Almost everything else
$23,845. This could be offset by federal and state incentives.
An electric motor generating 66 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque drives the rear wheels. Electricity is stored in a lithium-ion battery pack.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a method of calculating energy consumption for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids that it call miles per gallon equivalent, or MPGe. It puts the i-MiEV at 121 MPGe in the city, 102 MPGe on the highway and 112 MPGe in combined driving. As mentioned before, range is 59 miles.
Standard Features & Options
The 4-seater 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV comes in one trim level, the ES ($23,485).
Standard equipment includes 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, automatic headlights, fog lamps, LED tail lights, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a Level 3 fast-charger socket, remote control for cabin temperature and setting charge times, 50-50 split/fold/reclining rear seats, a 6-speaker/100-watt audio system with AM/FM radio, a CD player and an auxiliary audio input.
A navigation package is optional, featuring a 7-in touchscreen, a Fuse voice-recognition system (enabling hands-free operation of phones and portable media devices), Bluetooth, a USB port, a rearview camera and steering-wheel controls. Other options include a foldable cargo tray, a cargo net, a reversible cargo mat, wheel locks, blue LED cabin lighting and rear parking sensors.
Cargo capacity is 13.2 cu ft. behind the rear seats and 50.4 cu ft. when they’re folded down. That’s really quite good.
Four stars out of a possible five is the verdict from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), including four stars for front impact protection but only three for side impacts. The i-MiEV’s age means it cannot offer any advanced safety features like blind spot monitoring or forward-collision mitigation. But a rearview camera and rear parking sensors are available as options.
The standard safety kit includes anti-lock brakes (discs at the front, drums at the rear), traction/stability control and front-side and side-curtain airbags. Because this is an electric vehicle, and therefore almost silent, an Approaching Vehicle Audible System (AVAS) is also included. At slow speeds, it acts as an alert for pedestrians who might otherwise be unaware.
Behind the Wheel
Grab an espresso — you’ll need it. If the top speed of 81 mph is reached, that will drain the battery considerably. And the car’s short wheelbase results in a jittery ride. It’s best to stay around town, since the i-MiEV is pleasantly maneuverable
The car’s tall design means decent headroom, but its subcompact dimensions also bring limited legroom for passengers in the rear. Not that anyone will be in the car for long. This car has the lowest EV range and the seats aren’t that comfortable to begin with.
Hard plastics and cheap materials in the cabin show how dated the i-MiEV has become. Driving this EV beats walking in the rain, but it isn’t quite as romantic.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Fiat 500e — Charming and fun, with a range of 87 miles. Sold only in California and Oregon.
2017 Nissan Leaf — Due for replacement next year, but can still muster up to 107 miles of range.
2017 smart fortwo Electric Drive — All-new for 2017. Only a 2-seater, but has a relatively high driving position, excellent ride quality and a usefully tight turning circle. Range is 68 miles.
There are better choices than this. Going down the electric route doesn’t have to be so punishing. Find a Mitsubishi i-MiEV for sale