Consumer Reports: Even After Price Drop, Mitsubishi i-MiEV is Basically an Overpriced Enclosed Golf Cart


Along With New Pricing Comes A Lot More Standard Features...And A Lot Less Exterior Color Choices

Along With New Pricing Comes A Lot More Standard Features…And A Lot Less Exterior Color Choices

The 2012 Model Year Mitsubsihi i-MiEV carried with it a MSRP of $29,135.  There was no Model Year 2013 i-MiEV available in the US, but when the 2014 Model Year i-MiEV arrives on US shores in Spring 2014, its price will be $22,995 or $6,135 less than the 2012 Model Year i-MiEV.

All New i-MiEV Come With Standard CHAdeMO Fast Charging Protocols On Board

All New i-MiEV Come With Standard CHAdeMO Fast Charging Protocols On Board

“Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) is proud to announce that the company’s new 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric-powered production vehicle not only receives an expanded standard equipment package but also sees a considerable price reduction of $6,130 over the previous 2012 model year vehicle.”

You’d think that a substantial price reduction would change the way in which Consumer Reports views the i-MiEV.  Wouldn’t you?

Well, as it turns out, Consumer Reports still considers the significantly cheaper i-MiEV to be way overpriced.

When Consumer Reports first tested the i-MiEV, its verdict was that far superior electric options existed and that the i-MiEV was overpriced for what’s basically an enclosed golf cart.

How does Consumer Reports feel now with the reduced price?

“Even at that reduced price, it still a lot of money for a car that feels like little more than an enclosed golf cart. The appeal lies solely in providing attainable access into the world of pure-electric cars. At this price, it becomes more feasible as a second, occasional-use car.”

Source: Consumer Reports

Categories: Mitsubishi


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50 Comments on "Consumer Reports: Even After Price Drop, Mitsubishi i-MiEV is Basically an Overpriced Enclosed Golf Cart"

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I hate to say it, but I have to agree with them. Even if the car were more attractive on the outside, the inside is still very low-tech. The Leaf is like driving a fighter jet by comparison.

I watched their video review on YouTube, and with some of the points they made, I would tend to agree with you. They said that the small wheels made the ride very rough. They also said it was slow getting up to highway speeds even with quick ev acceleration from stop. They also said it lost power rather quickly at highway speeds. If this is true and there were no major changes to this, it would not be a good choice for your primary electric vehicle. It is a kei car though, and as such were designed more for city driving and seems like it would be a good value for that.

Just watched the review too. I assume all their factual points are valid. But this is really about priorities and framing. The review is addressed to privileged middle- to upper-middle-class consumers, who would place “look, feel and image” over basic usage and consumer value. Not everyone has the extra $7-8k to get a higher-performance EV. Calling short-to-medium urban/suburban drives “occasional-use” is a gross misnomer. This is what most Americans use their cars for! It is the longer drives that are occasional, even rare for many families. Moreover: to be honest, it can only be so much fun to sit in *any* car – especially if you have kids stuck in the back. The comfiness of the driver’s seat is of far lower importance IMHO (as long as it’s not made of spiky nails 🙂 ). In short, with all obvious limitations, if you live and commute in an urban/suburban area without a really deep winter, and your household has up to 2 adults and 2 not-yet-full-size kids, then this car is a steal. You won’t find better value anywhere else in the 2014 new-car market. Plus, I suspect that the ChaDeMo outlet (for which the network is already good in… Read more »

Most definitely. The drawbacks are not a deal killer for me. I am rather tall, so I would like to check one out and see if it fits me well. For my budget and distance I drive, both the I-MiEV and the Leaf are options.

We’ve had our iMiev for 18 months now, I’m tall (6’4″) and fit quite well – much better than the Leaf (and most cars in general, honestly). We drive 95% of the time in our iMiev and only use the gas car for the drive to the airport or out of town. If we had just a few quick charge stations around (as they do out West) we’d use it closer to 100%. Thankfully, they are coming along … and with this price drop (despite CR negative [biased] reporting) I think more people will find it a joy to own and drive AND help them keep more of their money.

My brother drives an i MiEV and he is a bit over 6′-6″ and I’m 6′-4″ and we both fit nicely in the front at the same time. The backseat is quite tight for me.

I think this review has it’s points, but it is too harsh in the end. The i MiEV needs to be improved:

Increase the pack capacity.
Flat smooth underside.
Add a crisp Kamm back and wheel strakes.
Add a free wheel coasting mode when you lift your right foot off the accelerator.
Add a dedicated Range Remaining gauge.
Redesign the HVAC controls to make them easier to see and to use.
Add seat and back heaters on all seats.

I don’t know what they are talking about on the rough ride. It is not quick, but it is a capable car for everyday commuting and use. It is smooth and quiet, and is practical.

It’s mixed up a bit, but it’d say expectations had a role to play. Most cheap hatches, or most front-engined cars have a softer rear suspension than its front, fact. That’s common. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is mid-engined and all of its controllers and chargers are in the rear. Also considering that the petrol i had its engine in the rear too, thus its rear suspension had to be stiffer than its front. As we know, if you put a lot of heavy cargo in the rear or boot of a front-engined car, the car becomes very imbalanced, the suspension and composure of the car becomes poor and thrashes about. That’s what it’s like for the i-MiEv, and I doubt the 2CV-thin tires helped soaking the bumps. While most non-performance, front-engined cars are expected to have adequate comfort, rear and mid engined cars are serious sports cars. They’re built for performance, they’re forgiven for their harsh rides. The i-MiEV is definitely the cheapest mid-engined car on sale, it’s not built or priced for cornering and heavy, responsive steering. It’s built for easy, effortless, efficient and comfortable commuting like most economy cars, so those were Consumer Report’s expectations. Thus consumerreports completely gloss… Read more »

It is an excellent city car. I drive mine 1100 miles per month.

You dont need a fighter jet to get from point a to point b and back!

Absurd review. After federal tax rebate: $15.5K for the iMiev vs $22.5K for the Leaf. That is a huge difference for many people. The iMiev will sell, price is king. The price difference is even greater in places like Atlanta, subtract another $5K: $10.5K for iMiev, $17.5K for Leaf. That makes the Leaf 70% more expensive in Georgia.

Absolutely. And no gas costs once you bought it, makes the 2014 MiEV by far the cheapest new 4-seat car you can get.

You can always play the price card when a car is sold as economical but really this and the smart ev offer americans something they have never really had – a city car. Being just big enough to fit the weeks shopping in whilst being small enough to fit easily in any parking space or drive comfortably through heavy traffic this car is great for town driving and urban living. Why would you want a much bigger car in town? If you live in a dense urban setting driving this to work every day will add years to your life. Choice is good, buy the right car for the job not the car with the best marketing

I agree… “buy the right car for the job not the car with the best marketing.” I love mine. I purchased it in May and have almost 7,000 miles on it. When driving it does not feel like as small as it is. It handles nicely and gets around great!

We had a used one at one of the local car dealerships in our area and it was around $18,000. I sat in it and it wasn’t that bad on the inside it was surprisingly roomy for a tiny car. I would say that it would be more roomy and useful then a smart car in that it could seat four people. The only real complaint I would have about it is that it should at least have 80 to 100 miles of range.

As for the pricing of it considering it’s size and it’s competition in my option would be the Smart Car EV in that they are all most the same size. If it had say 80 to 100 miles it could fight other EV’s but for the time being the Smart is the only real car I could picture someone comparing it too.

The Spark/Fit/500e EVs could be competition, if they were offered nationwide on a massive scale.

As to Smart, the 2014 MiEV is now cheaper, has about the same range – and has room for 2 more people. It’s clear who’s winning that contest 🙂

Many i-MiEV owners who bought it as a second occasional-use car now drive it as their primary daily driver. We bought it as our only car, but we live on an island where its range is not a major problem.

With its rear seats folded down, I believe its cargo area with its flat floor is larger than any EV other than a Model S. So if one doesn’t require a high-tech jet fighter cockpit, an i-MiEV is a really useful, economical car.

It’s very good in winter. Active Stability Control and 600 pounds of batteries keeps everything in check. I’m usually passing other cars on snowy days on the highway. I’ve driven this car up to the 130 kmh limit and don’t find it a problem at all. I think some people are just more used to a larger car and get nervous when a small car moves a little bit. I’ve driven far worse cars like a Nissan Frontier and a 90s era Civic where the front end lifted at highway speeds (scary). My commute is 30 miles each way so I slow it down on the highway and I arrive with plenty of range to spare. Driving an EV is more important to me than driving fast and wasting gas. All EVs will lose range quicker the faster you go, there is no free energy. The i-MiEV is the most efficient EV on the market, remember it has the same size battery as the Volt but gets 25-30 more miles in range than the Volt does. I find the back seat very comfortable, most people forget the i-MiEV comes with reclining rear seats. Recline those seats and you’ll have plenty… Read more »

Those of you that have an I-MiEV, how is it really at highway speeds? My commute is mostly at highway speeds ranging from 55mph to 70 mph. Also would like your opinion on it for winter driving.

I haven’t owned one but have had one for a series of one week loans. It’s fine upto 100km, the limit in melbourne, has good visibility and is much bigger than it looks (its square which makes the space very useable). I never drove it in the snow but would expect it to be scary as hell as it weighs nothing and is rear wheel drive. Driving at high speed on freeways seems to pull the range down more than when I had a leaf but I am sure if you look up the numbers you’ll get a good idea about if it will suit your needs. I loved it, it is really good fun and very stable. The people who are negative about it have never owned a small car and really don’t get it.

I generally avoid the 400-series highways in Canada in my i-Miev, as the range declines at higher speeds, and stick to the two-lane 80 km/h (50 mph) highways. It can, however, handle 55-70 mph no problem; with the caveat being two hands on the wheel at all times. With the i-Miev being tall and skinny, you have to correct the car a fair bit due to crosswinds (especially when being passed, or passing a transport truck). There is also no cruise control, one of the only things I don’t like about the i-Miev. The car handles just fine in the snow (I don’t even have winter tires on), however, range again decreases in the cold. I assumed rear wheel drive + light weight + instant torque would = disaster in the snow, but I was wrong. I usually drive in eco mode, and it’s gutless enough in that setting that you’d have to try to make the wheels spin.

How far is your daily commute one way, and do you have access to charging while at work?

I have a commute of 12 miles one way. No charging available at work, but it sounds like it doesn’t really lose range much faster than any other EV, so I shouldn’t have a problem unless I have a bunch of errands.

I do a 35 mi round trip (without charging at the far point) all the time to get the kids to school. Charge a little during the day and then do it again in the evening. This is generally in mild SF climate, but recently had a 35 degree cold snap, and used heat with no problem. Maintaining a 50-55 mph speed not a problem, faster when necessary. This car fits the need and is CHEAP to operate: less than a cent a mile.

Jeff D, high speed is not a problem for the i-MiEV. The issue is the significant decrease in the car’s range at 80mph (just as with most cars). Regarding handling in the snow, owners in the snow belt report being very pleasantly surprised by the i-MiEV – those narrow front tires are actually a boon in snow, and with active stability control engaged it’s nigh-near impossible to lose it – and that’s with original equipment LRR all-weather tires.

70 mph does make for draining the battery pretty quick but if it a commute you are talking about 20 miles each way only charging at home would be no problem, even in the winter.

“Also would like your opinion on it for winter driving.”

Amazing! I try to fish tail this rear-wheel-drive technical marvel, but it always corrects me and points me straight. The 15” tires do surprisingly well in our Idaho Falls snow and 0F winter. We have 3 cars and we drive the Miev the most at 1000 miles/month — mainly because it’s the cheapest to run. And where an EV is always going to shine is that 5 mile trip to the store. This is where ICE vehicles absorbs its worse gas mileage.

I’ve had my i-MiEV over a year, and find it perfectly tolerable on the freeway, nothing like the dodgy handful suggested by some reviews. That said, cruising along at 65-70 will cut a notch out of the range. Because my town has an easily navigable network of smooth-running surface streets, I usually avoid the freeways to save energy/range, but not because the car feels unsafe or unpleasant at speed. Quite seriously, it is NOTHING like a golf cart – CR is just plain wrong, and are doing both the car and their readers a great disservice in this mischaracterization. When it comes to winter driving, it’s far from ideal, but not for the reasons speculated about here. It actually drives quite well, the rear motor RWD setup giving it classic Beetle-like grip in the snow and slush, plus excellent ABS/EBA/ESC for even greater stability. The problem is the heater, which at its max setting draws nearly as much power as the drive motor. The car is not especially well insulated either, so you have to choose between maximizing comfort or range. There are several mitigating factors. The driver’s seat is heated, so you can run with a cooler cabin (and… Read more »

It’s all a matter of application. For someone who wants a very inexpensive, non-polluting car that is almost free to operate, the i is a godsend. After incentives, it’s $13,000 in California, or $8,000 in Georgia. For someone on a fixed budget, to whom $200 per month in gas is a consequential expense, this is one of the best deals going. I own a NEV (Gem). The i is no NEV. It’s a perfectly serviceable freeway capable car, ideal for someone who doesn’t need to drive long distances regularly. With CHAdeMO quick charge, it has a capability even my Focus Electric and Fiat 500e don’t have.

I certainly agree, but it’s worth noting that many people for whom $200 in gas is consequential also don’t pay enough federal income tax to use the whole $7500 tax credit, effectively raising the price for less affluent buyers. This was bad enough when applied to $40k Volts and $35k LEAFs, but the regressiveness of this deferred limited tax credit (as opposed to direct rebate applicable to purchase) is even more pronounced for a $23k econobox like the i-MiEV. It doesn’t seem likely this will be fixed given the current political climate, but it’s grossly unfair.

True, it simply go as if you didn’t pay enough tax, you don’t get the federal credit to purchase the car. What can be done is leases, and the vast majority of EV owners lease their car. Federal credits can be included in leases, but state rebates don’t. Still, over a 3 year lease or period, a lot of people would have paid $7500 in taxes in that time. Leases should be cheap, and I mean dirt cheap. Guesses of $69 to $99/month as Mitsubishi has had a successful experiment with those offers in Jan and Feb of 2013. That’s effectively free driving for those who spend $200 on petrol a month, which is a lot, regardless.

Cheaper than the smart fortwo electric, same range, more space. Worth considering if price is most important.

This is why I hate CR’s reviews. Their Imiev review is nonsensical in view of the other bloggers here who are very satisfied with their Imiev vehicles.

This is from the same outfit that did a very non-critical, limited review of the Model S, and couldn’t gush enough about it. I’ve gotten more realistic balanced points of view from Tesla Employees for Heaven’s Sake.

I think that it is bad publicity for the electric vehicles that car companies keep pushing those golf carts into markets. We need more compelling long range premium vehicles in order to push technology forward.

The only negative publicity here is that which is being spewed by CR.

Rarely do I see reviews of sports cars that complain about harsh rides, being poor on gas, having very usable space for storage, etc. And I’m glad I don’t. A sports car has a specific set of attributes that the car buyer is looking for: what is it’s 0-60 mph time, what is it’s top speed, how many lateral g’s does it get on the skidpad?, etc. Why can’t niche vehicles be reviewed in context, the same way sports cars usually are? I didn’t buy an i-Miev because I wanted something fast, or because I wanted a gorgeous leather/wood grain interior. I didn’t buy it to tow things, or to take on 400 mile family vacation road trips. I bought it because it is one of the cheapest most economical vehicles on the market, requiring little to no maintenance. It is not ‘an enclosed golf cart’. With the electric drive, it is smoother and quieter than most ICE vehicles in it’s class.

For anyone with a commute within the range of the i-Miev’s capabilities, the Mitsu should be considered quite ‘compelling’.

IMO I couldn’t agree less with this comment. I agree that we needed the Tesla roadster and the Model S to push the image of the EV past the boxy i-MIEV and the frog like LEAF. We’ll see the entry of the Model X and the BMW i8 soon which will do the image of the EV the world of good but what we really need now is the rapid expansion of the sector and that is going to happen at the cheap tinny end of the market faster than at the super sexy high performance end. IMO what we need are some more serious volume production low cost EV’s currently we are looking at Zoe, i-MIEV, Smart and LEAF. I think what we need is expansion of these cars so that they are freely available globally, at a reasonable price and not hindered by production short falls. Clearly another Porsche or Merc is welcome but I don’t think it pushes the sector forward.

Absolutely. +2.

WEll, I’m always campagning for a Lincoln Continental or Cadillac Fleetwood – Style vehicle to be an EV or Phev, but the Imiev is a winner in its class as seen by the very good reviews fellow bloggers have given it here. Consumer Reports is getting more and more amateurish as time goes on. IMO the
Model S review was embarrassing in that they didn’t mention Vampire drain at all, or do any cold weather testing .

The hell with CR.

The iMiev could put a large dent in LEAF sales with this kind of price difference, but as Mitsubishi has such a low profile in the auto market it probably won’t make much of an impact.

I think it would be a great companion car to a Volt or an ELR.

Mine is a great companion to the Model S. I drive the IMIEV 5 times more than the S!

OK, big solar I love to drive my i too, having covered over 32,000 miles, but why park the S?

More evidence of Consumer Reports turn toward unprofessional commentary.

I believe it will be a big seller at that price point, just as the first Hyundai was a huge seller because it set a new floor for pricing. A lot of people need cheap, reliable transportation. This will be the cheapest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) car out there.

I’ve driven the i at speed on the highway. Handles normal commute just fine.

Everybody would prefer a Tesla to a iMiev. But they aren’t the same price! Reviewers don’t need to pass to the cashier before driving the car, this is why they tend to forgot about the price tag!

I couldn’t fit a Tesla in my garage. I’m not selling the house so the Model S has little use for me. It’s a beautiful car of technological impressiveness. They are stunning to see on the road. But, I’m a common person with a common job and I enjoy driving my uncommon EV that fits neatly in my modern 9ft wide garage.

The original CR review of the i-MiEV was a subjective and unwarranted hatchet job, with virtually every negative statement addressed and refuted on the website ( CR neglected to mention that at the time the i-MiEV was the most efficient car they had EVER tested. An example of CR’s questionable technical accuracy is their assertion that their City mileage was 104MPGe and Highway mileage was 116MPGe (EPA City/Highway numbers are 126/99). Any EV owner will tell you that the greatest range killer is highway speeds. City driving can be truly very efficient, especially when utilizing the i-MiEV’s three levels of regeneration. I’ve owned an i-MiEV for almost two years and 22,000miles and it not only has become the PRIMARY car in the family, but it is an extraordinarily trouble-free daily workhorse admirably suited to the job of easily getting around an urban environment at minimal recurring cost. Its attributes are very-easy entry and egress, plenty of elbow room in its non-claustrophobic interior, a very tight turning radius second only to a SmartED, and a large flat-floor rear storage area with the seats down offering more volume than any of its competitors despite the car’s compact exterior dimensions. It has… Read more »

I’ve driven an i-MiEV and it isn’t comparable to anything I’ve owned in the past. But, I prefer a relatively small car so in that respect, it’s good. It doesn’t have the same quality materials feel inside as my last Buick, and I don’t care. The biggest reason I haven’t bought one is the range. I’m waiting for an EV with an EPA range of 100+ miles before I buy. I want to feel confident that it will do my commute in poor winter weather at 8 years old. {I don’t sell or trade a car I like too often. That 24 year old Buick in our garage demonstrates that.}

All good points.

But BEVs you can lease instead of buy. I’m positive that the automaker will be able to offload your BEV at a mutually-good price to the next buyer, when you return it from the lease (Nissan has had no such problem so far).

Thanks for the great input. The I-MiEV is a definite contender for me then. For the price, I could probably keep making payments on the ICE car that I have and have two cars for the price of one.

I have 17,000 miles on my i-MiEV. My gas car gets almost no use at all.

This Texas Mi-EV driver just posted this popular post about their 1-year experience.

Bottom line: they are very happy, put 7k miles on it and never got stranded.