The Car Connection Mitsubishi Mirage Overview
The Mitsubishi Mirage is among the lowest-priced new cars sold in the U.S., which puts it somewhat at odds with other subcompact vehicles—a great many of which are trying to chase a more upscale image. For 2017, the Mirage lineup includes a hatchback and a new sedan called Mirage G4.
The Mirage's competition includes the Chevy Spark, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, and Toyota Yaris.
There was no 2016 Mitsubishi Mirage; the automaker skipped that year entirely, but instead rolled out a 2017 Mirage with a series of significant improvements. The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage gets variable valve timing good for a boost to 78 horsepower; a retuned suspension for improved ride and handling; upgraded brakes; new upholsteries and interior trims; and updated infotainment systems that are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.
The Mirage G4 is largely the same vehicle as the hatchback, except with a less flexible trunk rather than the five-door's more expansive cargo area. The G4 aims to look a little more upscale, but it suffers at the pump by delivering lower fuel economy numbers.
MORE: Read our 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage preview
The new Mitsubishi Mirage
Today's Mirage—yes, even with all the upgrades on the way for 2017—looks pretty plain. The car sits very upright on its little 14-inch wheels, with a version of Mitsubishi's newest front-end styling giving it a rounded look that helps the car cheat the wind but does little for it styling-wise. Mitsubishi claims a drag coefficient of 0.27 for the hatchback, which is a nice low number, so the designers can't be blamed too much for going the staid route up front.
The simple interior of the Mirage is equally plain, though with modern safety features under the rounded shapes formed from hard plastics. But the closer you get, the cheaper the Mirage looks inside. Folding down the split 60/40 rear seat back, for example, produces wrinkles in the thin carpet covering the seat back. Many interior panels are just painted metal, some areas with exposed seams; overall, the impression is more 1990s econobox than smart, stylish, high-quality product of the 2010s.
The front seats seem comfortable enough, and with a lot of dickering, four six-foot adults can fit inside. But the Mirage is a light car, with a curb weight of about 2,000 pounds even in U.S. trim with its full complement of safety equipment. That doesn't leave a lot of margin for noise suppression, and sure enough the Mirage's cabin is quite noisy, although vibration is the real issue. Seven airbags are fitted as standard, along with the usual suite of now-mandatory electronic safety systems. Brake assist and hill-start assist come standard on models fitted with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The Mirage's claim to fame isn't just a low price (one of the lowest on the U.S. market) but also fuel efficiency estimated at 37 mpg city, 43 highway, 39 combined for the hatchback with the CVT. At the opposite end of the spectrum sits the rather less impressive G4 with its standard 5-speed manual: 33/40/35. Those figures are on par with some larger, far more refined compact cars.
The Mirage's dynamic behavior, at least when we refer to the 2014 and 2015 model years, has been truly disappointing. The ride is bouncy, handling and steering are numb, and it is in no way quick. The suspension is soft and as a result the car tends to roll more than most small cars. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard and rated a few mpg lower than the optional continuously variable transmission, although the manual is better able to extract the most from the small engine.
For its price, the Mirage comes pretty well equipped. The base DE trim level includes air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows, and a four-speaker audio system including USB input. The SE adds alloy wheels, a height adjustable driver's seat, fog lights, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, and a backup camera, among a few other items. Pop for the full-boat Mirage GT, which is only available as a hatchback, and you'll net surprising luxuries like Xenon headlamps and heated seats—but, despite its nomenclature, the GT is CVT-only and isn't even remotely sporty.
Mitsubishi builds the Mirage in a factory in Thailand.
Mitsubishi Mirage history
Prior to making a return on this subcompact for 2014, the Mirage nameplate was last used in the U.S. back in 2002.
The Mirage sold in the U.S. from 1997 through 2002 was actually the fifth generation of a model first launched in the late 1970s. That car was sold as the Dodge Colt before Mitsubishi began to offer its cars under its own banner in the U.S. The final generation of Mirage was a compact car in those days, offered as a two-door coupe and four-door sedan and powered by a 1.8-liter engine in its last years. While the Mirage coupe lasted through 2002, the sedan model was replaced by the Mitsubishi Lancer for 2002.