Toyota Mirai

Using hydrogen fuel cell technology, the Mirai converts hydrogen to electricity, which is then used to power an electric motor. The motor is connected to the front wheels, where it sends its 153 horsepower to the ground. Like other cars powered by electric motors, the Mirai is extremely torquey, with 247 pound-feet available from a dead stop. While 153 horsepower is adequate for a car of this size, all that torque makes it feel quite sporty off the line.

The Mirai is smaller than Toyota's midsize Camry, but it's got plenty of upscale features to help justify its premium price point. The front seats are 8-way power adjustable and heated units, while the stereo is made by JBL. Navigation is included and is displayed through a large LCD screen housed in the dashboard. A smaller screen sits below, housing the controls for the climate control. Other features include a leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel, LED headlamps with an auto high-beam feature, LED fog lamps, dynamic, radar-guided cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, touch sensors on the door handles, 17" wheels and heated outside mirrors.

Toyota is taking safety seriously in the Mirai, particularly because of its relatively new and seldom-utilized fuel source. More common safety features such as air bags, traction control, stability control and anti-lock brakes are all present. However, Toyota has gone the extra mile by including a blind-spot monitoring system, a pre-collision system, a lane departure alert and Safety Connect, which will automatically call for help in an emergency. The hydrogen tanks are specially reinforced with carbon fiber and polymer linings built in a 3-layer structure. The tanks also include leak detection sensors and safety shut off valves, for an extra dose of safety.

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Editors' First Take

LOS ANGELES -- The odd floating hood and three big air intakes at the front of the 2016 Toyota Mirai made me think of the Prius . I wasn't making a stylistic connection between the two cars but pondering if the Mirai could be as successful. You see, the Mirai is Toyota's next big power-train gamble, on a par with the gasoline-electric hybrid system of the Prius, in this new case using a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electricity.

At an event a day before the Los Angeles auto show, the debut event for the Mirai, Toyota gave me a chance to get behind the wheel and see how this new car drives.

As for the quirky look of the Mirai's front end, I didn't find it offensive, but wouldn't call it beautiful, either. It does give the Mirai a signature look, something that benefited the Prius. As a nice techie touch, rows of LEDs make up the headlights. The rear glass looks downright mundane, but underneath the rear of the car a pair of fins help the aerodynamics.

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