People looking for alternatives to gas-powered cars are limited to a few options. Hybrids use gasoline but reduce consumption by having an electric motor take over at low speeds. Plug-in hybrids do the same, but let you recharge the electric motor’s battery for increased electric operation. And fully electric cars, of course, run solely on electricity stored in battery cells.
There’s another alternative: hydrogen. A hydrogen-powered car stores the gas inside high-pressure tanks and uses it to generate power for an onboard electric motor. No gasoline, no plugging into a wall outlet or charger. And the only emission coming out of the tailpipe is water.
The 2023 Toyota Mirai is one of only two publicly available hydrogen-powered cars and even as a regular midsize sedan, it’s fairly impressive. But the Mirai represents a commitment even more than it does a car. The asking price is substantial, and hydrogen fueling stations are few and far between. Toyota also limits new sales of the Mirai to California and Oahu, Hawaii. The cost of hydrogen itself is something to be aware of, but you won’t have to worry about it for a while. Toyota includes a hydrogen “gas card” with the purchase or lease of a Mirai good for $15,000 or six years, whichever comes first.
Overall, we like the Mirai. It sports a luxuriously smooth ride, pleasantly trimmed cabin and solid build quality. It’s also surprisingly composed to drive through corners thanks to its rear-wheel-drive architecture and excellent weight balance. But passenger and cargo space is limited, and you’ll have to factor in whether the lifestyle of a hydrogen-fueled car is really for you.