With its slick surfaces and dark nights, navigating roads in winter can be difficult. The Toyota Mirai is a zero-emissions, fuel-cell vehicle billed as the “car of the future”.
In this article, we examine if the Toyota Mirai is suitable for winter driving.
Here is the short answer to whether the Toyota Mirai is good for snow and winter driving:
The Toyota Mirai offers decent performance in snow and winter mainly because of its low center of gravity which increases stability and enhances handling on treacherous roads. It also has safety features like Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Assist, ABS, and Brake Assist.
Is a Toyota Mirai Good in the Snow?
The Toyota Mirai is among the best alternative-fuel vehicles around. It has a quiet cabin, sophisticated styling, high-tech features and loads of eco-friendly credentials. Besides these noble qualities, you can expect the Mirai to perform decently in snow.
Now, some may find the idea that a sedan can be good at snow driving absurd. However, the more you think about it, the more you realize the Mirai has all it takes to navigate snowy roads safely.
First, it is lighter than the trucks and SUVs you see around and is easier to control on slick, snowed-out surfaces. This reduces the risk of a crash or collision resulting from loss of control on a wet road.
Second, its low center of gravity makes it more aerodynamic and less susceptible to rollover crashes, which are common on snowy roads.
Big vehicles like trucks and SUVs have a higher center of gravity, which increases their chances of rolling over.
However, no matter how good the Mirai is in snow, it’s still a sedan–and that explains why it cannot handle some snow driving conditions.
We recommend getting another model if your area receives severe snowfall–the Mirai would be useless in such a situation.
Please also check out our article on where Toyota Mirais are made.
What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?
The Mirai does offers decent handling and stability in winter road conditions. This is because it possesses the following features:
1. 4-wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
As it’s harder to brake on ice and snow, you may end up applying more brake force than is necessary. Should this happen, the wheels can seize and cause your vehicle to skid.
The Anti-Lock Brake System on your Toyota Mirai is a great feature that stops the wheels from seizing when you brake in wet conditions. It does this by reducing brake force once it detects a wheel is about to seize.
2. Electronic Brake-force Distribution
The EBD feature works in tandem with the ABS to stop wheel seizure. But, unlike the ABS, the EBD only redirects excess brake pressure from a wheel(s) to stop it from seizing.
3. Brake Assist
A common complaint among those who drive in winter is that braking distances increase on wet surfaces. As such, it’s risky to drive on ice and snow because drivers may not be able to stop their vehicles in time to prevent road mishaps.
The Brake Assist feature on Toyota Mirais eliminates the problem of longer braking distances. It increases brake power supplied to the wheel when you press the brake pedal, cutting braking distance by 30 percent.
So, next time you’re driving on a frozen highway and spot a deer ahead of you, you can quickly brake and avert disaster.
4. Vehicle Stability Control
Also called VSC, this feature addresses a common issue with winter driving: inadequate stability on roads. It’s all too easy for a vehicle to lose control, or traction, and careen off the highway.
The VSC uses input from the steering sensors and wheel speed sensors to detect if the vehicle is becoming unstable (losing steering and/or traction).
Once it senses the vehicle going out of control, the VSC will minimize the engine power supplied to the wheels to slow, or stop, the car.
Thus, even if your vehicle were to lose control on a slick surface, your chances of crashing will not increase.
5. Traction Control
Lack of traction is a problem most people who drive on ice and snow experience. If one or two wheels lose traction on your vehicle, the entire thing could crash and cause deaths.
Luckily, you have Traction Control on the Mirai, a feature that ensures wheels get enough road grip to keep the vehicle stable.
If the TRAC (as it called) senses the wheels are losing traction, it will change vehicle speed to allow affected wheels to increase their road grip.
Make sure to also read our article about driving the Toyota C-HR in snow and winter.
Does a Mirai Have Snow Mode?
The Toyota Mirai does not have a dedicated Snow Mode like some models in Toyota’s lineup do. Typically, the Snow Mode helps to improve driving in snow by stopping the wheels from spinning wildly.
Nevertheless, the Mirai can still handle snow driving, even without the Snow Mode. At least, you can still activate Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Control for better driving on snowy terrain.
Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Mirai?
Yes, you can install additional snow gear on the Mirai. In fact, we recommend buying such snow gear immediately you buy the Mirai–especially if you plan to use it in winter.
However, you should be careful of installing ill-fitting snow gear on your Mirai. If you install the wrong-sized snow chains or snow tires your vehicle, the car’s handling will be significantly impaired.
To prevent problems arising from snow gear installation, get a specialist to perform it.
How Much Snow Can a Mirai Handle?
The Mirai is a low-slung sedan and doesn’t have that much ground clearance. This limits the model to traversing roads with light snow on them.
You shouldn’t attempt to navigate roads covered in thick snow–except you want to get stuck and have your vehicle towed home.
If we owned a Toyota Mirai, we’d only use it when the snowfall is minimal and below four inches.
Anything above four inches of snow will probably prove too much for the Mirai to handle, and we won’t advise trying to drive it in such a situation.
Also read our article about driving the Honda CR-V in snow and winter.
How Do Mirai Handle Low Winter Temperatures?
From what we can tell, the Mirai shouldn’t have problems starting even in sub-zero temperatures. If your vehicle cannot start on cold winter mornings, it’s likely something is wrong with it.
Can a Toyota Mirai Drive on Ice?
On the average, the Toyota Mirai can drive safely on ice without hydroplaning or veering off the road. The Mirai’s ability to drive on roads covered in ice is partly due to its low center of gravity.
Because it hugs the road closely, chances of a loss of control and crash are minimal.
Additionally, the combination of Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control ensure the vehicle remains stable on ice.
You also have the Anti-lock brakes and electronic brake-force distribution that enable safe braking on wet terrain such as icy roads.
Does the Mirai Have 4WD?
No, the Mirai uses a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) powertrain instead.
Now, won’t the absence of 4WD affect the Mirai’s winter driving capabilities? Yes, it will. RWD vehicles typically find it difficult to accelerate on icy roads compared to 4WD models.
However, you should know that newer models like Tesla’s Model 3 use RWD and drive okay in winter.
So long as you can fit additional snow gear, especially snow tires, your Mirai should drive well in winter–RWD or not.
What About Older Mirai Models and Winter Driving?
From our research, the older Toyota Mirai models are as suitable for winter driving as their older counterparts. This is hardly surprising, given that the Mirai is a recent model, having being released in 2014.
Most vehicles released in the last ten years often have features that help improve winter driving capabilities.
For example, the first ever Mirai not only had Anti-Lock Brakes, it also had Vehicle Stability Control, Brake Assist, and so on.
Do Mirai Need Snow Tires?
If you plan to use your Toyota Mirai in winter, you will need to invest in a set of snow tires.
Despite claims by tire makers that all-season tires are suitable for use in winter, it’s better not to use them for winter driving.
Here are some reasons why you should use snow tires not all-seasons in winter:
Snow tires typically offer better traction and grip in winter road conditions compared to all-season tires.
Snow tires have special tread compounds and unique tread designs that are specifically geared towards increasing grip on ice and snow.
In contrast, all-season tires rarely have the same features that make snow tires great in winter weather.
Research has shown that running all-season tires on your vehicle in winter will significantly increase braking distances.
By comparison, snow tires offer quicker braking and are safer.
In a Consumer Reports test, braking distance on snow tires was about six feet shorter compared to the all-season tires. This proves snow tires are your best bet if you want safety.
Can You Mount a Snow Plow on a Mirai?
You cannot mount a snowplow on the Toyota Mirai and we wouldn’t advise you to attempt it.
Snow plows are made for bigger vehicles such as tractors, trucks and SUVs. If you try to fit a snowplow on your Mirai, you may damage it severely.