The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is a subcompact electric car with impressive economy ratings and the lowest price of any EV in America. It is the most efficient automobile on the US market, receiving ratings of 126 MPGe (the electric equivalent of gasoline MPG) on the highway and 99 MPGe in the city.
To achieve such lofty numbers, the tiny i uses a 63-horsepower electric motor with a 16-kWh lithium ion batter. Range is 62 miles on a single charge, trailing the Nissan Leaf by 11 miles. Mitsubishi claims that the car can achieve a top speed of 81 mph; don't expect that speed, nor the traditional zero to 60 mph benchmark, to come quickly.
Though the i is a very small vehicle, even more diminutive even than the Toyota Yaris, it still packs a respectable amount of standard features. Such items include an energy-efficient electric air conditioning with micron filter, speed-sensitive Electric Power Steering (EPS), a driver seat heater and LED rear combination tail lamps.
Moving up to the midlevel SE model nets a bevy of upgrades: a 360-watt, 8 speaker sound system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, silver accents on the seats, unique two-tone instrument panel and door panels, 15-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps with daytime running lights are all included with the SE.
Big spenders will opt for the SE Premium package, which adds such niceties as a HDD navigation system, rearview camera and FUSE hands-free system with USB and steering-wheel controls. Also contained in the package is a DC quick charging port that allows for level 3 battery charging, meaning an 80 percent charge can be achieved in just 30 minutes.
Fears about the i's ability to protect its occupants should be allayed by the long list of safety equipment: dual-stage supplemental front air bags, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side impact supplemental air bags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags for front and rear-seat outboard passengers, Active Stability Control (ASC) with Traction Control Logic (TCL), 4-wheel ABS with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and a high voltage cut-off system are included on every Mitsubishi i model as standard equipment.
The i also has an Approaching Vehicle Audible System (AVAS) that produces noise when at speed to alert pedestrians to the otherwise silent vehicle's presence.
The biggest competitors to the Mitsubishi i are both larger and more well known, the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. Other players include the Ford Focus Electric, Toyota Prius and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.