The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is one of the cheapest and most efficient electric cars on the market. But in terms of amenities and performance, it exemplifies all the stereotypes about electric cars being little more than fancy golf carts.
It's tiny, slow, tippy, cold in the winter, has a bouncy ride, and its four occupants feel crammed together. A short 59-mile range and a six-hour recharge time limit versatility, even among other electric vehicles. While the i-MiEV is one of the cheapest electric cars you can buy, the $29,975 starting price still seems rather dear for what little you get. (At least that price doesn't include the $7,500 tax credit from the federal government.)
Our top-of-the-line SE cost $33,630 after we added the Premium package, which includes a navigation system and rear backup camera. It also includes a quick-charge port that is compatible with public 1/2-hour DC charging stations, but not many of those are available for now.
The i-MiEV fulfills its mission of being a very efficient and basic city transportation, costing less than 3 cents per mile, developing no tailpipe emissions, and making parking easy. But those attributes aren't enough to outweigh the considerable shortcomings. Overall, the i-MiEV scores too low in testing to earn our recommendation. Buyers seem to agree; few i-MiEVs have left dealers' lots. We think most buyers would be better served spending a little more on the more substantial -- and considerably nicer -- Nissan Leaf, which costs just $3,000 extra.