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2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Overview
Nothing like a 60% price reduction to motivate the masses, eh? Whereas the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV came with a sticker price approaching $30K, you can get an updated 2014 version—with a long list of newly standard features—for around 10K. Of course, that takes into consideration the federal tax incentive of $7,500 coupled with whatever your state is offering, but Mitsubishi itself is dropping the price this year by more than $6K! In states that see the benefit in encouraging alternative fuels, that means the final cost nestles in quite comfortably close to that magic $10K number!
This would be standalone news, but when Mitsubishi sees fit to also add a bunch of new features as standard faire, this little electron eater gets even harder to ignore.
Not that we see a lot of “Kei” cars scooting around U.S. highways. Kei is a Japanese designation that translates to “matchbox car.” Here they were simply too small for our safety regulations—apparently we frown upon cars that double as coffins in accidents—so the U.S. version is nearly 8 inches longer than its Japanese cousin.
So what does the best electric deal on the road offer the discerning consumer? For 2014, the i-MiEV is rolling fresh with new heated seats up front and heated mirrors on the sides, leather on the steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum wheels, fog lights and daytime running lights, and the full charge system. That means you can utilize 8A and 12A charge ports for charging in 22 and 14 hours, respectively, as well as having the option of the CHAdeMO DC quick-charge port, which Mitsubishi claims will give you an 80% charge in just 30 minutes. To monitor all this electrical exchange, a battery warning system is standard now as well.
Eagle-eyed electrophiles will notice some other aesthetic enhancements as well, although none flashy enough to overshadow 2014’s other upgrades (and discounts). If you decide to add the SE Premium Package, you’ll enjoy HD navigation, a rear-view camera, 360-watt stereo and an auxiliary USB.
Those looking for powertrain upgrades will be disappointed, however, as the i-MiEV is still powered by the same 16kWh lithium-ion battery that delivers 66 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque through an electric motor. This is not a road-trip car, and that has nothing to do with the scarcity of quick recharge stations. Even on the coasts those can be quite rare. No, the i-MiEV has a total range of just 62 miles and a claimed top speed of 81 mph. Good luck reaching either milestone, however, as real-world testing has put them in a certain elusive category. However, for a city car this is more than adequate. An overwhelming majority of drivers eat up far less than 60 miles every day, putting the i-MiEV squarely in the “useful” category.
If you’ve been thinking about entering the electrical arena, and if frequent road trips aren’t on your list of necessaries, this is the time to check out the i-MiEV. The only bad news is how badly those who bought one in 2012 are getting screwed. If you can resist the nasty looks and don’t mind driving something a little different, I say, “Charge!"
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.