The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage is the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid vehicle sold in America. With its base price of $13,790, including destination, the subcompact hatchback is also one of the country’s least expensive cars.
Only Chevy’s Spark ($12,995) and the Nissan Versa sedan ($12,800) better its price, and neither touches its sparkling EPA ratings: 37 mpg city/44 mpg highway/40 mpg combined.
“I love this car,” writes an owner at edmunds.com. “It gives me everything I need: a roof, an engine, and wheels … I'm able to get it up to 56 mpg if I drive it right … For the economically minded, this car can't be beat.”
Even price-aware entry-level buyers want more than a box on wheels, though, so Mirage comes well equipped. Standard equipment includes automatic climate control; electronic stability control; power side mirrors; power windows with driver's side auto-up/down; keyless entry; seven airbags, including a driver's knee bag; and 4-wheel ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.
The ES trim ($14,490) adds aluminum alloy wheels; fog lamps; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; smart-key passive entry; keyless ignition; steering wheel-mounted audio controls; cruise control and a Bluetooth® hands-free phone system.
The Mirage also can be optioned with a navigation system, rearview camera and parking sensors.
“Getting a ‘loaded’ car, with Navi, for $17K was nice,” wrote another Edmunds commenter.
Buyers pick from eight “vibrant” colors, including Plasma Purple (pictured), a shade my Facebook friends found wildly amusing.
Mitsubishi covers Mirage with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage.
So the Mirage is inexpensive to buy and operate. It boasts a decent array of standard content and a great warranty. Obviously, tradeoffs are involved.
They start with a cabin that, while comfortable for two, comes up short on second-row seating. With the seatbacks up, Mirage offers 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space. With the seatbacks down that number jumps to 47 cf.
Cabin furnishings are spare. Hard plastics dominate and fit-and-finish trails the competition. The steering column tilts but doesn’t telescope, but drivers of all sizes should find a comfortable driving position.
Controls are close at hand and easy to operate.
Mirage is a light car, but its 74-horsepower, 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine labors loudly to accelerate, an effect underscored by the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). While the standard five-speed manual transmission produces excellent EPA numbers —34/42/37, the CVT, a $1,000 option, gets the bragging rights that go with the 37/44/40 ratings.
The Mirage joins a growing cohort of cars designed for the urban commute. It’s compact and easy to park and navigate in close quarters. However, its short wheelbase, small tires and suspension fundamentals are overmatched by rough and broken pavement.
At speed, wind and wind noise intrude, steering is vague and the ride is unsettled.
But let’s give the last word to satisfied owner, who wrote, “Great bargain, reliable, and feels like you spent more than you did.”
If that sounds like your car, there’s a Mitsu dealer with one in a color meant for you.
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer. Contact him at email@example.com.
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES CVT
Vehicle base price: $12,995
Trim level base price: $15,990
As tested: $15,990
Optional equipment: Our ES tester included no options
EPA rating: 37 city/44 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified