Ahh yes, so called “journalists” love to hate on the newest generation of the Mitsubishi Mirage. There’s plenty of reasons to hate this car, with only 78 horsepower generated from a 1.2 liter three cylinder, it hasn’t any scrap of sportiness whatsoever. However, it isn’t supposed to. In fairness, what this car is supposed to be, and what it intends to achieve, it does very well.
The Mitsubishi Mirage has never been a luxury car, it has always been a subcompact designed for tight budgets and people that don’t care much about a car having a soul. In that sense, the Mirage is indeed alive and well, not much has changed. The current generation of Mitsubishi Mirage comes in three trim levels; ES, SE and GT. The ES comes with steel wheels and no basic features other than power windows and power locks. It truly is the definition of basic transportation and it does a pretty fair job of that.
However, step into the SE and GT models and options can get pretty decent. My 2017 is an SE, and my car has some options that other cars I’ve owned have not. For example, my Mirage has Apple CarPlay and the Android version too. In lieu of that, my car also has navigation in the way of the Maps app, and it works very well. My vehicle also has upgraded Rockford Fosgate audio, a smart key with a button on the doors or hatch for keyless entry (simply push the button to lock or unlock the doors with no need to touch the key fob) and push button start. Additionally, my Mirage is equipped with one touch down power windows, a pretty good back up camera, cruise control, bluetooth hands free, fold down rear seats, power locks, a tilt steering column, child anchor locks for car seats, and other basic things you’d hope for. Also my vehicle is equipped with automatic headlights, fog lights and even rear fog lights.
Step up to the GT and you get a few more basic things like HID headlights, nicer alloy wheels than my SE, and little aesthetic differences. The point is this, Mitsubishi sells a car like mine new for $16,000 which is laughable because they offer a “name your price” offer system, and rebates. You can get a car like mine for $14,000 or under, making it the single cheapest vehicle I know of. Mine has very low miles, the remainder of the Mitsubishi bumper to bumper warranty, and the famous CarMax bumper to bumper Max Care warranty, all for $13,000. When you look at this car as a new car for $13,000 suddenly it starts to make more and more sense.
Why Buy This Over A Versa Or Corolla?
I don’t have a great answer, so I will tell you precisely why I did. For one, I despise Nissan’s CVT transmission massively. It feels like it constantly is slipping and overall annoys the shit out of me. The Corolla is a great car, but the price is definitely higher and fuel economy is certainly lower. Plus, when you factor in options to options, the Corolla doesn’t come close in terms of price.
I didn’t buy my Mirage because it was cheap, in fact I was looking at vehicles in the $50,000 and up price range. I decided on the Mirage because I needed transportation I can rely on, and with an insane amount of warranty coverage, I have much peace of mind in that. The 1.2 liter three cylinder has been turning 38-40 miles per gallon in city driving and upper 40s in highway driving at 70 miles per hour. I hate all CVT transmissions, but the Mitsubishi slushbox isn’t nearly as terrible as the Nissan units I’ve experienced and I find it tolerable. It isn’t great, but it IS tolerable.
The little wheels and tires make ride quality very good, and Consumer Reports had commented that highway handling was twitchy on rough roads. I say they’re full of shit, as I drove down US23 in Ohio and found the car to be superbly stable and comfortable at high speeds on one of the most notoriously bad roads around. Steering is definitely light and lacks feedback, but it is direct and goes where you point it. Body roll is certainly there thanks to its’ soft ride, but you don’t buy this car to carve corners. Braking is very much up to the task and I find it more than safe and acceptable.
In short, I buy this over the Corolla or Versa because you save a fair amount of money, get decent options and features with MORE fuel economy for LESS money.
The Mirage Doesn’t Act Pretentious
Mitsubishi knows this car is a shitbox at the end of the day, and in many ways it is. That’s the point I’m making here, the Versa is also a massive piece of shit too. Most cars in this class lack any form of soul or character, and there’s no reason to act like that isn’t the case. However, that doesn’t mean any of these cars are bad cars. All of them are good at being cars if nothing else.
Interior fit and finish isn’t the best with many exposed bolts and fasteners, but I find that to be an upside. When this car is out of warranty someday, the simplicity everyone bad mouths... Is the single biggest feature to me. Working on this car will be insanely simple. There’s just not much that can really go too wrong, and if it does everything is extremely basic and easy to remove and reinstall. I embrace and love the simplicity of the Mirage.
Mitsubishi electronics have a notorious reputation for being robust, and my DSM is proof of that. The three cylinder engine is basic and simple, my favorite reviewer Doug Demuro knocked the fact that you can see daylight in the engine bay and I just laugh. I love Doug, but he also doesn’t wrench his own cars and he wouldn’t think of this as a plus side for those like me that do. So to you Doug, thanks for pointing out my favorite feature of the Mirage; my large hands would have zero issue doing any repair under the hood.
Additionally, I’m a Mitsubishi guy, so my basic bias helped my decision in buying this car. Plus, if I’m honest, I really do like the way this car looks. When I get my 15" Enkei RPF1's on it, it will look pretty sharp. Otherwise, stock it is everywhere else.
The Meat & Potatoes Of This Review
Well of course, let us talk about what everyone wants to know. Yes, it is very slow. However, in town it easily keeps up with traffic and feels more powerful than it is. Merging on the highway I haven’t had any troubles at all. It cruises 70 miles an hour under 2500 RPMs which is less than my 1g DSM. Handling is very acceptable in my opinion, and road noise is more isolated than the Elantra, Sentra and Versa I’ve driven. Yes I’m serious.
The switches are easily laid out on the center stack, and very intuitive. The Apple CarPlay makes the center screen especially useful and I love having Maps navigation in such a cheap car. The Rockford audio isn’t punchy by any means, but sounds good enough streaming my Amazon Music. Overall at this price point, the interior is comfortable for me, there’s room for two adults and two children and it gets insanely good fuel mileage.
The small size and back up camera means even a blatant idiot can park this car absolutely anywhere, and darting through big cities is effortless. While this car isn’t remotely of the highest quality, it doesn’t need to be. Everyone expects Mercedes Benz quality, but they don’t want to pay the price point. So many people “claim” to want a good basic transportation device at a low price, and Mitsubishi delivered it.
Too bad everyone forgot about what they asked for, and instead bitched about it. I bitch when someone builds a $35,000 vehicle without options, but not at $14,000. I won’t forget driving a certain Santa Fe Sport with a tag over $30k that didn’t have Apple Car Play, navigation and had a smaller infotainment screen than my Mirage.
I say good on you Mitsubishi. I love this car, and look forward to the incoming shit storm due to my very unpopular opinion.