I’ve put 12,000 miles on the Mirage and I’m closing in on a year of ownership with it. Today I will go in depth about the ownership experience of the much hated Mirage.

How Has It Been?

Let me start off right away and say a few things about ownership in regards to the Mirage. First off, it’s far from a luxury car; it is absolutely the polar opposite of that to be fair. This car is not a Camry, it isn’t as refined as an Accord or anything like that. Instead the Mirage is slow and purpose built. That purpose is to eat miles like a pregnant girlfriend eats your stash of Twix bars hidden in your sock drawer.

The factory Dunlop pizza cutters are noisy, they have no given right to be this noisy given the extremely small size. Yet tire noise is certainly something you better come to grips with if you stick with the stock wheels. Finding alternative tire choices prove pointless as well based on my search history.

Now that I’ve drive some respectable miles in this car I can say it’s a pretty comfortable car. There’s very generous room for front seat occupants, far more so than a KIA Rio I once owned (it was given to me) and the interior doesn’t squeak and rattle thus far. Unfortunately rear seat occupancy space isn’t so generous thanks to the micro car size of the Mirage. Granted I did fit someone 6’4” all the way to Indianapolis once time and he didn’t die. However I’d wager he would have embraced it had it come his way.

Surprisingly cargo room is very generous if you fold the rear seats down. Lately my Mirage has been a parts hauler for a very special build from a friend and coworker of mine, and we managed to fit two 4th generation Eclipse seats with rails in the hatch. I’ve also hauled 4 17” SRT-4 wheels with tires mounted without any issues. If you have the ability to fold those backseats down the Mirage becomes a little cargo van real expediently.

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As I’ve said in a few articles prior, the Mirage may be a frugal device for transporting people, but it manages to have fog lights, keyless go, Apple/Android car play, LED tail lights and other surprising amenities. Again though, this isn’t a luxury car and I’d never remotely insinuate that it is. For a lowest price in class vehicle however.. it does have a leg up.

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The Good

This part is fairly easy for me to write; the car has had ZERO mechanical failures, zero close calls and has cost me absolutely nothing to operate aside from fuel and oil changes. I ran 7,500 mile oil last time around and tomorrow she gets some 15,000 mile Amsoil, that’ll bring the cost even lower.

Fuel economy has been exactly 47.3 miles per gallon since I’ve taken delivery of this vehicle. In long distance driving I’ve seen 53, that’s no lie. The overall average though is 47.3. That’s 253.69 gallons to travel 12,000 miles. For those keeping count, take into account an average fuel cost of $2.75 per gallon and we come up with a $697 fuel bill. Take that further and do some math and the Mirage has cost me 5.8 cents per mile of operation.

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Really nothing else that needs to be said. This has easily been the cheapest car to operate I’ve ever seen.

The Bad

Acceleration is somewhere between pipe dreams and nonexistent when starting on steep hills. Around town it does quite well, but when starting on upgrades it struggles to motivate itself. It huffs and puffs until eventually you’ve fantasized about driving a moped for the acceleration benefits.

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The tire size thing always haunts me as well.

Thankfully I can just clear my cart at Tire Rack and have a burly 195 width tire (insert sarcasm here) and find far easier tire replacements. I’ll be having these shipped mounted and balanced with Yokohama S Drive tires.

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This also remedies one of my personal pet peeves of the Mirage; handling. Quick transitions and tight corners are sketchy with the soft suspension and pizza cutter tires. For a car weighing approximately 2,100 pounds it’s mind boggling.

Additionally aftermarket support isn’t there yet. Only fly-by-night Chinabay vendors offer coilovers and I’d really like a set to tighten everything up and give a nice stance on the new shoes. Hopefully time will remedy this issue.

The Verdict

So far the Shitsubishi has been dead reliable, nearly free to operate and offers a decent driving experience. Yes it lacks power, yes it lacks razor sharp handling, and yes the stock tires are absolutely ridiculous and make noise. Redeeming all of this is the fact that the car as a whole has held up well through an Ohio winter, potholes and daily driving. The interior still looks great, the paint shines like brand new and the quality seems very on point.

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These 12,000 miles have been stress free, and that’s what I ultimately need. This car allows me to pursue other dumb and irresponsible purchases, like the one I’ll be making before long, so be sure to stay tuned.