The youth of the 1990s and early 2000s will fondly remember Mitsubishi as an automotive powerhouse producing cars that made frequent appearances in The Fast and the Furious franchise. Cars like the 3000GT, Eclipse, and Lancer Evolution were some of what the era’s youth aspired to own someday, cars that were not only bulletproof in their reliability, but loads of fun to drive and highly tunable.
Such is no longer the case. Mitsubishi has realized that consumer interest exists mostly in crossover utility vehicles and after a nearly decade-long period of leaving their lineup relatively unchanged, Mitsubishi killed off the Lancer and Galant sedans and brought the Mirage hatchback and subsequent sedan versions.
At $14,395, the Mirage G4 is one of the cheapest sedans you can buy in the U.S. For that money you get seating for five, goodies such as a standard backup camera and bluetooth connectivity, a 10-year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, and over 40 miles to the gallon on the highway thanks to the paltry 1.2 liter 3 cylinder engine producing 78 horsepower. If you decide to splurge and pay the extra $2,700 for the higher-trim SE model, you’ll get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, push-button start, heated seats and an armrest for the driver’s seat (yes, just the driver’s seat). While that may sound like plenty of desirable features at a relatively low price the Mirage leaves much to be desired. I found it felt reminiscent of the economy cars I encountered during my last visit to India, which was nearly 15 years ago.
The loaded SE model I tested comes with features such as power windows, cruise control, push-button ignition, bluetooth, and a backup camera all of which are relatively absent from cheap commuter cars on this end of the spectrum. That being said, the interior of the Mirage is a very dreary place to be. The cloth seats, while heated and six-way adjustable for the driver, feel very uncomfortable and unsupportive. Although the Mirage comes with standard AC, it has the blowing power equivalent to that of a broken desk fan.
The Mirage also has standard bluetooth and optional CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity but is hampered by a sound system not powerful enough to overcome the road and wind noise that penetrates through the cabin. The slew of convenience features won’t distract you from the overall build quality and components, which are absolutely abysmal, but expected for a car built with cost in mind.
While interior content and quality may be subpar, the real weak spot for the Mirage lies with its atrocious driving dynamics. Mitsubishi claims the Mirage can reach 37 miles per gallon between mixed city and highway driving; a claim that lies far from the 27 miles per gallon I averaged in 500 miles of mixed driving. The tiny, 1.2 liter three-cylinder took nearly 13 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour and needed to be floored in order to keep up on the freeway. I found the handling capable at lower speeds but don’t expect this to be a blast to toss around in corners like the Mitsubishi compacts of decades ago. The small stature of the Mirage makes for a small turning circle and very easy to park and navigate around tight city streets. And while the Mirage generally rides smoothly around town, once it’s at freeway speeds, small bumps and potholes become an ordeal.
At just over $18,000 fully loaded, the Mirage really fails to impress. There are some redeeming qualities such as the generous warranty, the roomy interior and available convenience features such as smartphone integration but poor interior quality, a lukewarm powertrain and subpar driving dynamics make the car feel nearly a decade outdated.
In my opinion, consumers would be better off purchasing a certified pre-owned compact sedan such as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla or Mazda 3 which can be had for around the same price or less. While new cars come with the added benefit and peace of mind of a warranty, the aforementioned vehicles have proven to be very dependable and often come with warranties when certified pre-owned, leaving little incentive in purchasing a brand new Mirage.
The Mirage exists as a cheap, no-frills set of wheels that isn’t all that good at its intended purpose: transporting. Even within its own class of subcompact cars, the Mirage really underperforms. Competitors like the Honda Fit, Toyota iA and Hyundai Accent are leagues better in terms of value and performance, and come reasonably well equipped at very similar price points. Mitsubishi had an opportunity to rejuvenate their storied sport compact line but instead gave us a car in the form of an appliance. Savvy shoppers will see through the Mirage and pick anything else from the list below.
Chief Competitors: Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris iA, Chevrolet Spark, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Sonic
The car used in this review was provided courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors USA.
Are you in the market for a new or used car but don’t know where to start? Reach out to me at email@example.com and I’ll help you with the search.
|Rating Among Midsize Sedans|
|Powertrain & Chassis (5)||Interior/Exterior
|Acceleration||1||Front Seat Comfort/Space||2.5|
|Transmission||1.5||Rear Seat Comfort/Space||2.5|
|Fuel Economy||3||Cargo Space||3|
|Steering Feel & Handling||2||Fit and Finish||2|
|Engine||DOHC 12-valve inline-3, aluminum block and head, port fuel injection|
|Transmission||continuously variable automatic; 5-speed Manual|
|Horsepower||78 hp @ 6000 rpm|
|Torque||74 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm|
|Top Speed||100 mph(est.)|
|Fuel Economy||35/41 mpg|
|Price as Tested||$18,085|