It’s crazy, but the Mirage has covered almost 1,000 miles in the few weeks I’ve owned it. There’s things I absolutely adore about it, things that I enjoy about it, and things I absolutely loathe about it. I’m going to delve into each one today, and in a few days hopefully have a video edited and live for your entertainment.
What I Love
Let’s start right here with fuel economy; mainly that it’s hilarious. That trip average was on a trip from my town in Sycamore Ohio, where I drove to the Mitsubishi dealer in Medina Ohio for some warranty work. More on that later in this column.
Yes, with a 10 mile per hour crosswind and the cruise set at 75, I averaged 47 on the nose. The small nine gallon fuel tank goes far in this car to say the least. Even better, on the way back it returned 50.8 miles per gallon. The trip was $10 all in all to go 200 miles. I’m being 100 percent serious about this.
In town if I’m gentle I can average 41 miles per gallon, making this the single most fuel efficient non-hybrid gasoline powered vehicle that I’ve ever encountered. Yes, Mitsubishi nailed it right here with the Mirage.
Other things I like? Well for one, I find the interior to be really spacious for a car of this size. My (ex) wife and I had owned a 2011 Kia Rio we had acquired from my grandfather, and driver comfort was somewhere between torture and abuse. The Mirage is a smaller car and yet I fit with a generous amount of room to spare. I’d like to mention I’m 6 foot tall and 235 pounds, and there’s no issues here.
Rear seat space can be slightly more cramped with taller front occupants, as I’m right at 6’1” and I put my daughter in the back. I simple seat her behind the passenger seat. So yes, the Mirage is indeed family friendly.
Cargo space is also pretty good as well, we had spent over $100 at Walmart and had no issues fitting everything in the hatch with plenty of room left for more. All in all, the interior space is very well utilized and there’s no complaints here in those aspects.
Additionally, I find the Mirage to be comfortable and exceptionally easy to drive. Steering is light, and the car weighs right at 2,000 pounds so quick maneuvers are very simple. Being such a small car with a back up camera makes this car the single easiest vehicle in the world to park; if you can’t parallel park a Mirage you should simply give up driving.
Snow driving is very easy with the skinny 14” tires and underpowered 3 cylinder engine. Traction is massive and the Mirage just glides through snow as if you’re on a dry road. Still yet, if you rip the parking brake you can hoon and the car is very easy to control.
The interior quality is definitely on par with other vehicles in this class if we’re talking about materials and NVH. However, there are some exposed screws with the doors open and basic oversights that Mitsubishi has negated to cover up. For some people this may be a turn off, for me it’s a sign of simplicity and I don’t mind it.
Things I Don’t Like
Well I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t discovered some things that range from mild to straight up annoying. Let’s start with mild and work our way down the list, shall we?
First off, the 165/65/14 tires are impossible to find. Tire Rack offers only two replacements, a Dunlop eco tire and a Dunlop winter tire. In May I am planning a trip over 3,000 miles out west and back. If I were to get a flat tire I’m very worried that finding ANYONE with a replacement on hand will simply be impossible. This is definitely a concern and I have a counter measure I plan to use for this.
Tire Rack did the math and a 195/55/15 tire (I believe that was the size) will maintain the same rolling diameter to keep my speedometer reading correctly and it’s a far more common tire size, so I intend to grab four Enkei RPF-1s and some Dunlop performance tires to offset this fear. The additional width will also solve a complaint I’ll mention shortly. Additionally this allows me to purchase four snow tires for next winter.
I’m choosing Enkei RPF-1 wheels because they weigh like 8.8 pounds per 15” wheel so the reduced weight will help with fuel economy on the larger tire. If you cannot tell, fuel economy is important to me with this car, plus it’s going to make the car look far nicer than the puny 14” stockers.
Those skinny 14” tires are very awesome for fuel economy, however they don’t enjoy my style of driving. The soft suspension rides excellent, but mixed with the motorcycle width tires you have to be slightly aware of that fact when going down a back road. I’m used to my DSM on coilovers and there’s just no comparison. I feel the wider tires will make a huge impact on this facet of driving and I’m excited to report back.
Let’s talk annoying complaints now. For one, the factory audio system is absolutely abysmal. Even cranked all the way up, loud is not a word in the Mirage’s vocabulary. Also, sound quality is decent, but far from good. To combat this, I’ve worked with Crutchfield to piece together an upgrade kit. I really am a bit of an Audiophile, so this is important. Upgrading to four Polk Audio 75w RMS speakers, two 75w JL Audio front door tweeters, a 500W JL Audio hideaway amplifier and some four gauge wiring will definitely up the ante and do what I want.
That upgrade will set me back roughly $800 installed and give the Mirage audio quality to rival even the nicest cars out there. For a car this cheap, I didn’t expect Bang and Olufsen, but the audio system truly is terrible.
Also on the subject of audio, the infotainment system has some glitches once in a great while. From time to time the Apple CarPlay will disconnect and I’ll have to close it out and reconnect. Annoying for sure. Also annoying is the fact that wireless CarPlay isn’t supported, the lightning cable has to remain plugged into my iPhone. I cannot report if the Android side of things is wireless because I don’t own an Android phone.
I also recently learned a slightly annoying fault and I cannot decide what causes it or how to explain it properly. What I’ve learned is that snow builds up on the front fender liners and will freeze overnight and cause the tires to rub the next day when making turns. I assume this is due to the shape of the fender liner itself, but I’m not totally positive. What I do know is the first time it happened the sound made me think I’d broken a suspension component. It’s harmless, but annoying nonetheless.
The fuel tank capacity is moderately annoying as well. Now, nine gallons takes this car a pretty good distance. However, on my trip out west I’m going to have to be VERY careful about fuel stops. Taking i10 through Texas has taught me some things in a tractor trailer. There’s a stretch where the nearest fuel stop is roughly 400 miles away. This will be ass clinchingly tight, no question about it. I’m not sure why Mitsubishi went so small on the tank, but they have a history of doing that. EVOs and DSMs have fairly small tanks as well.
The last major annoyance is a simple one, and one that irritates me. I don’t mind the cost cutting measures on this car. After all it’s a cheap car built for frugal people. However, even with my Mitsubishi love and bias... I’m going to mention this complaint that nobody I’ve seen before has ever mentioned. Pop the hood on ANY new Mirage I’ve seen, and you’ll notice the underside of the hood is left unpainted. I’m being dead serious about this. Initially I freaked out and thought my car had been in an accident and repaired poorly. However, that wasn’t the case.
When I was at the dealer last week in Medina I had popped the hood on a brand new Mirage, and sure enough the underside of the hood was left bare. I’m all for simplicity, but this is a little aggressive. Yes Mitsubishi, I tolerate the massively cheap interior of my beloved DSMs and I embrace it, but this cost cutting measure is even too much for me.
So far, I truly do love this little car. The size of the infotainment screen is generous and the touch input is absolutely awesome. The seats, steering wheel and other basic ergonomics are laid out fairly good enough for a car in this class, and I give it a passing score. There’s some things to knock here, but it’s not a BMW and I don’t expect it to be.
This car eats miles like candy, and it does it in a smooth manner. Although I’m still a CVT hater, I find the transmission to be well designed and smooth in this application. Many people wonder how well the 78 horsepower three cylinder mill does for daily use, and my only answer is good. At 2,000 pounds it motivates the car just fine and can cruise 80 miles per hour with ease. For a daily driver, that’s all you need.
Blind spots are an issue with the side mirrors and my trucking experience comes in very handy. I often forget I even have a rear view mirror and I’ve got the mirrors adjusted in a way that negates about 80 percent of it; still yet the blind spots are very annoying and a driver that isn’t as trained to use mirrors may find this dangerous and inconvenient.
Ride quality and handling is beyond fine. High speed concerning isn’t going to happen on the stock sized tires, so don’t expect handling like a GTI, it simply isn’t going to do it. This is a car designed to get the most out of every single droplet of gasoline, and it does that better than any car I’ve ever seen. It’s not a sporty car by any stretch, I’m going to make that abundantly clear right now.
Should I Buy One?
This one is hard to answer, as I’m a very odd type of consumer. I’ve owned some of the most luxurious marques, some of the sportiest marques, and now one of the most frugal. I’ve cross shopped a Focus RS to a Porsche Macan before, what I’m getting at is that I’m the most untypical buyer of all times. I knew what I wanted and I looked at cars in this class. So here’s how I got here.
I looked at a 2016 Corolla S, this Mirage, a 2016 Nissan Sentra, and a Honda Fit that I forget the year of. What I’d found was some shocking results of driving all of them. To be honest I drove two Corolla models. The CVT Corolla was terrible, and I hated the transmission. Equipment was scarce and the car was more money than the Mirage.
The six speed Corolla S was a pretty decent little car to drive, but again equipment was far less generous than the Mirage. The Sentra lacked any sense of equipment and having driven an identical car before, I immediately knew it wasn’t for me. Also, it was more money. The Fit was probably the best of all honestly, it was the “perfect bowl of porridge” if you will. It had far more miles than the Mirage, far less warranty, and the asking price was $4,000 more. However it was a great little car, and for most people it would probably be the best choice.
In conclusion, I chose the Mirage because it was scandalously cheap, offered an insane amount of bumper to bumper warranty coverage, got the best fuel mileage by far, and had the best equipment. Also, it was basically brand new. Plus, the color was a nice selling point and with kids being involved the black interior was a welcome feature for me. Also, my Mitsubishi bias was a fair part of the emotional side of this purchase.
With that out of the way, let’s give this car a total score. I’ll break it down into some categories and give it a 1/10 score for a possible score of 100. Yes this is slightly mimicking of the famous “Doug Score” but with some changes to make it my own.
How It Is Scored
The score is extracted from ten categories, with each category being worth ten points for a possible total of 100. Scores I do will be based on cars from the time period, or from the vehicle’s class if new. The Doug Score is scored based on overall scores as Doug chooses. Mine is based interclass or for older vehicles based on cars from the time period. With that said, let’s do this.
Styling is always subjective of course. Cars in this class include the Nissan Versa, Toyota Corolla, Smart ForTwo, Toyota Yaris, and Nissan Sentra. The Mirage is fairly handsome and offers alloy wheels, a standard rear spoiler and some fun paint choices. I’m giving the Mirage a 6/10
There’s really no way to get around the fact that the Mirage is slow. Power comes from a three cylinder engine. It’s possibly the slowest vehicle on sale today with 0-60 coming in 11 seconds. 1/10
Handling is safe, predictable and fairly decent. Steering is numb, light and not sporty whatsoever. However, quick lane changes and the ability to dart into small spaces helps out with this. The Sentra was far worse in my opinion and I’m giving the Mirage a 5/10.
So you’re wondering, what is this category? This category measures the car’s ability to excel at one thing better than any other car. What does it do better than other cars in this class? For me, the Mirage offers a few X factors. For one, fuel economy. Second, the ability to cram a ton of features into the car for a small amount of money. Third, if you live in a city like Manhattan, Newark or anywhere else where parking is tight and at a premium, the Mirage is a serious weapon. 8/10
The Mirage is far from an important car to most people and especially enthusiasts. However, Mitsubishi is in some serious financial trouble and the Mirage is massive for Mitsubishi. It’s currently the sales leader (based on last year’s report I’d found) and is one of the cheapest cars you can buy. For Mitsubishi this car cannot be a flop. 5/10
Comfort is pretty good for front seat occupants with room being generous as I’d mentioned before. Ride quality is smooth and comfortable as well. However the rear seat is literally a bench and for a bigger occupant space would be a little tight and that uncontoured seat probably wouldn’t be very comfortable. 5/10
Features And Equipment
This is where the Mirage excels, offering a good amount of equipment at a low cost. In this class equipment can be scarce and adding it to competing cars can drive prices up. The Mirage offers a 6.5” infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay, Android support, navigation, a good back up camera, fog lights, power windows, a smart key and cruise control. Not bad for the cost! 7/10
This is a four door hatchback (yes someone will say five door and that’s okay too) that offers the ability to easily fold down the rear seats. Cargo space is pretty good for a car the size of a ammo can, and 40 miles per gallon city average and 46-51 on the highway earns this car a high score. This car was absolutely designed with practicality in mind. 9/10
Quality is yet to be known. What I do know is the TPMS sensor failed due to a faulty tire installation and was easily rectified. Mitsubishi electronics have a notorious reputation for lasting forever and the three cylinder engine is unknown to me. Tons of warranty coverage helps out here. I’ve had good luck with Mitsubishi products and that’s why I keep going back. I predict reliability to be high, and I give this car a 8/10.
Let’s talk value. Mitsubishi starts the SE at $14,795. This includes alloy wheels, a back up camera, and the infotainment screen. Features like cruise control, fog lights and a few others are cheap, but cost money. My car stickers for right at $16,000. However, Mitsubishi offers a “name your price” system and I’m told they practically giving these away to boost sales numbers. One like mine was for sale right at $14,500 BRAND NEW at the dealer. That makes this the cheapest car with options you’ll find. 10/10
Analyzing The Score
For those of you keeping track, that’s a 64/100 which I cannot say how good or bad that is. However, in this class of car I’m going to go on and say it’s pretty good.
The Mirage is an excellent value, offers some fun equipment and a practical way to get from A to B without costing much money. My 200 mile round trip to Medina and back set me back a whopping $10 and the car did great.
All I can say is that the Mirage is far from perfect, but if your situation is like mine it’s absolutely perfect. I already have a fun weekend toy and needed a reliable and economical vehicle for now. Owning this car will allow me to make a completely stupid Hellcat purchase in the future. That’s why this car is indeed the best choice in the frugal class of vehicles.
Thanks for reading!