Consumer Reports Hates 2012 Mitsubishi I’s Range: Is It Right?

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2012 Mitsubishi i  -  First Drive, U.S.-spec MiEV

2012 Mitsubishi i - First Drive, U.S.-spec MiEV

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Mitsubishi’s tiny egg-shaped electric car known as the 2012 Mitsubishi i is currently the cheapest electric car you can buy in the U.S.

Starting at $29,125 before incentives, the 2012 Mitsubishi i features seating for four adults, a 16 kilowatt-hour battery pack, and an EPA-approved range of 62 miles per charge. 

According to Consumer Reports however, the very electric car which has worked hard to cure electriphobia just doesn’t have a large enough range to be a useable electric car

The consumer advice organization reached its conclusion after an extended period of ownership, driving it in a variety of temperatures and road conditions from its base in Connecticut. With an average overall range of just 59 miles per charge, Consumer Reports says the Mitsubishi i just gives its drivers range anxiety.

But is it right? We’re not so convinced. 

red 2012 Mitsubishi i

red 2012 Mitsubishi i

Enlarge Photo

Average trip?

As we’ve explained before, the average single-trip distance in the U.S. is just 5.95 miles, while the average U.S. commuter travels around 13.6 miles to and from work.

That’s far less than the 50+ mile round trips that Consumer Reports staff members have been asking of its Mitsubishi i. 

Lower cost = lower range

As Consumer Reports fairly notes, the 2012 Mitsubishi i is almost $5,000 cheaper than the 2012 Nissan Leaf. 

Part of the reduced cost can be explained by the difference in battery capacity between the two packs: the Nissan Leaf’s pack holds 24 kilowatt-hours of charge, while the Mitsubishi i’s pack holds just 16. 

 With a reduced battery capacity, the Mitsubishi i -- while more energy efficient than the Nissan Leaf -- can’t travel as far per charge. 

It’s more a city car

2012 Mitsubishi i - First Drive, U.S.-spec MiEV

2012 Mitsubishi i - First Drive, U.S.-spec MiEV

Enlarge Photo

While the Mitsubishi i’s top speed of 81 mp is more than adequate to allow it to keep up with traffic on the fastest of freeways, its four-seat interior and relatively small cargo space means it is better suited to life as a city car than most car. 

In practical terms and in most major cities, that should mean you’re never far from a level 2 recharging station or if you’re lucky, a rapid charging Chademo station. 

Right, or wrong?

With the cheapest sticker price of any electric car on the market today, the 2012 Mitsubishi i brings electric car driving within the reach of many who would otherwise not be able to afford it. 

But is its range too small for everyday, practical use? Or is Consumer Reports wrong in its conclusion? 

Let us know in the Comments below. 


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Comments (15)
  1. That's not the half of it - watch the range get smaller month after month - how about a range of around 50 miles after 5 years? That won't even get me into town and back.

  2. Kent how sensible is it to drive an SUV to work everyday? The mitsubishi i makes a fine city commuter car especially as a second car. It has limitations and I am fine with that which is why I have one on order. Yes as an early adopter there is a risk about the life of the battery. Imagine if we had listened to the naysayers about the first generation prius. 3rd most popular car line in the world. It is understood you would not pick this car for your needs but the current buyers judging from comments on their owners' forum are they love their car.

  3. That's unfortunate. I'm lucky enough to live in the city and enjoy a 6-mile commute - roundtrip - each day. 50 miles per charge? Works for me and thousands of others.

  4. IS it too small for some (maybe most most) people? yes. However there are still a lot of people in this country especially those in two car households who the car would be great for.

  5. Consumer Reports insists on rating BEVs as if it's the only car owners have available. Imagine if they rated the Miata that way.

    All the single-car families with a plug-in that I know have a PHEV. Families with BEVs have a another (gas) car available. So they can still get anywhere they want, without waiting for a charge. They just have to swap cars on special needs days. Like every two-car family swaps cars when they have a sports car/minivan/pickup truck/family sedan/commuter hatchback. My wife has done this for years, and it's dead simple.

    The only thing you have to do is pick pick a BEV with enough range so that you don't have to switch constantly. 62 miles won't work for everybody, but it will work for quite a few.

  6. When Mitsubishi had to fatten up the iMiEV to satisfy the NHTSA and IIHS for US certification, it needed to add a dollop of battery capacity to compensate for the added weight and drag. The Mitsubishi i suffers from that omission. Unfortunate for what is an otherwise useful design.

  7. Hmmm... it would only meet about 98% of the travel I do and at a substantial savings. Plus our public utility allows us to purchase wind power as a source exchange. (Until I can join a local wind cooperative.) Maybe the car is not for everyone, but it would meet my needs. ...and I fear, I'd likely be forced to use our hybrid, while others in my household justified driving it cause their commute is farther than mine :(

  8. That is at least 11 miles less than the Nissan Leaf's range. Range anxiety is pretty much a non-issue in Ev's that can go more than 120 miles on a charge. In some ways Consumer Reports is correct. People do not want a limited range vehicle and would be willing to spend a few thousand more for a vehicle that can travel at least 100 miles on a charge. The Tesla Model S will be a game changer because it is a no compromised EV. Even in it's least expensive form, which is due out next year, it will go over twice the distance of the Nissan Leaf on a single charge. The automakers do not seem to want to make a really nice EV now do they? Tesla is not a conventional automaker and their goal is to come out with an EV that is better than a gas car

  9. As an owner of both a LEAF and Mitsubishi i, I can kinda see what CR is saying. But depending on where you live, and what kind of driving style, and commuting distance, they are valid solutions to the current problem of expensive fuel. We did all the metrics, and it is definitely a smart deal, to go EV, if you can afford it, and utilize the tax credits, and all the conveniences of an EV over an ICE.
    I researched heavily before deciding on these two, including the Ford Focus EV, and Honda Fit EV, and Toyota is nowhere to be found.
    Honda is trying to get a lot of free publicity, but it is barely 1 mile more in eMPG over the Mitsubishi, articles don't mention how small batt & motor, like the Mits is. And it is lease only, not for sale. Fail.

  10. Well, it depends. There are urban people for whom the i would be fine. For a longer trip, just contact Zipcar and you are all set.

  11. i have an i. i drive daily 60 miles round trip in country,city, and highway conditions. i have no problems making the trip. with a heavy foot,fast starts, and nascar driving i would agree with consumer reports. with very little effort and a desire you should have no problem going 75 or more miles on a single charge.
    i agree it is more of a city car than highway. this doesn't mean your limited to just city driving. excellent car

  12. $5k less for 8kWh less battery seems a little miserly, but as to its usefulness, this can could do 99% of the trips my family make. My commute is 7.5miles each way, groceries are 5.5miles each way with an occasional 15miler, school 2 miles, downtown 4 miles, and I live on the edge of a city. If I had the cash and did not ride my bicycle so much, I'd love to pick one of these up.

  13. We have had an IMiev for several months now. Never gave a thought to using it for long distances, having a second car for that purpose. The beauty of the IMiev is that we do about 90% of our driving around the city here. My wife and I decide who is going the longer distance each day (in the city), and that person takes the IMiev. We save between $200 and $250 a month is gas this way. This method has worked beautifully.

    One learns quickly the range limitations of the electric, and takes that into account in planning. Geez, it only takes a few seconds to figure it out. I guess if you can't figure that out, you should stick with a gasser...

  14. I don't think the range is really an issue, but I do have a problem with the top speed of only 81mph. Although I rarely exceed 81, I don't want my car to be moaning and groaning at 78.

  15. I'm wondering how Consumer Reports managed to get those low range figures? How were they driving? Were they towing a boat or trailer? Need more details.

    I know people with i-MiEVs and they achieve higher ranges than what Consumer Reports managed.

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