Toyota just unveiled the updated Mirai with striking, Lexus-esque body work and hydrogen fuel cell promises. Lying beneath all of this is, by my calculations, the first rear-wheel drive, non-performance car in Toyota’s U.S. lineup since the 1992 Cressida. So, let it be known, October 10th, 2019 marks the day Toyota snapped.
This can only be the result of years of pure resentment building up after being pelted with “boring”, “beige”, and, more recently, “ugly” from auto journalists. So, Toyota has just dropped this blue bomb with middle fingers up.
The new “premium” platform allowed for much better proportions, packaging, and a truly Lexus rivaling car. This is no longer a technology piece. Toyota took driving dynamics and the overall ownership experience into consideration with the main goal of creating a car that people want to buy.
“We have pursued making a car that customers feel like driving all the time, a car that has emotional and attractive design appeal, as well as dynamic and responsive driving performance that can bring a smile to the faces of drivers,” said Yoshikazu Tanaka, Chief Engineer of the Mirai. “I want customers to say, ‘I chose the Mirai not because it’s an FCEV, but because I really wanted this car, and it just happened to be an FCEV.’”
This car also paves the way for future full electric vehicles, since it’s conceivable that this platform can be easily adapted to become fully electric. While Toyota has been basically at the forefront of hybrid vehicles, they have been lacking in the full-electric realm.
And Toyota chooses a RWD platform to break this ground. While the Mirai is definitely a premium minded sedan, it is still commendable that Toyota used rear-wheel drive in this application.
It does seem like RWD is making a bit of a comeback; the new Ford Explorer rides on a RWD based platform, but, keep in mind, Ford didn’t even give their flagship Lincoln Continental RWD. But here comes Toyota with RWD in a car that could have easily gotten away with being FWD like its predecessors. It’ll be interesting to see where this switch leads, if anywhere. For now, we know that Toyota is sick of everyone’s shit.