2020 Mitsubishi Mirage

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Review: The Most Economical Car In America

by Aiden Eksteen

Tiny cars have been getting less popular in the US with every passing year, in favor of larger, more practical crossovers, yet many subcompacts such as the Mitsubishi Mirage have zealously continued production into the 2020 model year. Entry-level budget-friendly cars seem to still be a major consideration for first-time owners, with the Chevrolet Spark, Honda Fit, and Kia Rio also coming into the new model year with enhancements and alterations. Remaining unchanged is the Mirage's meager 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine with insubstantial outputs of 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque driven via either a five-speed manual gearbox or CVT automatic to the front-wheel drivetrain. While it won't be setting any racetracks alight with those figures, the Mirage still clings on to bragging rights in two aspects - it's one of the cheapest cars on sale in the US, and it's also the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid gasoline car in the United States. Can these perks justify the substandard interior and sloppy driving dynamics, though? Unfortunately, we don't think they can.

Read in this review:

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Changes: What’s the difference vs 2019 Mirage?

The Mirage has been given a minor facelift for the 2020 model year - up front, it features a refreshed "Dynamic Shield" grille, while the rear is revamped with squarer bumper corners and L-shaped lights that span across the back end for a wider and more stable look. On the inside, new armrests have been fitted, a new instrument panel is installed, and faux carbon fiber window switch panel trim has been included. Automatic climate control is now standard in every Mirage and higher-spec models are fitted with newly designed seats with fabric synthetic leather. The RF model has been discontinued for the 2020 model year lineup.

Pros and Cons

  • Class-leading gas mileage
  • Easy to maneuver around town
  • Extremely affordable price
  • Extensive warranty coverage
  • Lackluster acceleration
  • Unrefined engine
  • Cabin floods with noise at highway speeds
  • Low-grade and tacky cabin materials

Mirage Exterior

The Mirage's restyled exterior is a considerable improvement in the Mirage's overall aesthetic, the new grille is flanked by halogen headlights on all but the GT model, which features high-intensity discharge headlights. All models are fitted with LED taillights and a high-mounted LED stop lamp, but only the SE and GT get LED fog lights. The ES rides on 14-inch steel wheels with covers as standard, while the LE is equipped with 15-inch black-painted alloy wheels. The SE gets 14-inch alloy wheels, and 15-inch two-tone alloy wheels are standard on the GT. All models have a rear spoiler.

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Front Angle View Mitsubishi
2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Front Angle View 1 Mitsubishi
2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Front Angle View 2 Mitsubishi
See All 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Mirage is on the bigger side of the subcompact hatchback class. In comparison with the Chevrolet Spark, the Mirage is 6.3 inches longer in overall length at 149.4 inches, and it's a full inch taller in stature with a height of 59.4 inches. It's also a tad wider with a width of 65.6 inches. Its 96.5-inch wheelbase is 2.6 inches longer than the Spark's, and the Mirage also rides a full inch higher off the ground with a ground clearance of 6.3 inches. Surprisingly, the Mirage is around 150 pounds lighter than the Spark on average, with curb weights ranging from 2,029 lbs with the manual-equipped ES to 2,128 lbs with the CVT-equipped GT.

Exterior Colors

There are eight exterior paint colors available for the Mirage, all of which were carried over from the 2019 model. All hues are available for every model in the lineup, Pearl White is the only option that carries a $295 additional cost. All the other hues are metallics, including Starlight Silver, Infrared, Mercury Grey, Sapphire Blue, Mystic Black, Sunrise Orange, and Wine Red. Of all those color options, Wine Red and Sunrise Orange are the most unique.

  • Pearl White
  • Starlight Silver Metallic
  • Sunrise Orange Metallic
  • Infrared Metallic
  • Wine Red Metallic
  • Sapphire Blue Metallic
  • Mercury Gray Metallic
  • Mystic Black Metallic

Mirage Performance

Not much at all should be expected from the Mirage in terms of straight-line performance with its efficiency-minded powertrain. This comprises a small 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine and either a five-speed manual gearbox or CVT automatic gearbox in the ES, with the latter gearbox standard in all other models. With measly outputs of 78 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque, the Mirage is the least powerful vehicle on sale in the US, and also one of the slowest, meandering from 0-60 mph in a more than 12 seconds; its top speed is limited to 125 mph. That translates to an incredibly monotonous driving experience. The Mirage's class rivals, such as the Honda Fit, which comes equipped with a 130-hp engine, and the Chevrolet Spark with its 98-hp engine, offer far better performance overall, from their off-the-line acceleration to power delivery at higher speeds.

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Top View Mitsubishi
2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Rear View Driving Mitsubishi
2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Rim Mitsubishi

Engine and Transmission

The Mirage is equipped with a 1.2-liter three-pot engine that produces 78 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque; in the base-spec model ES it's coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox as standard with a CVT automatic gearbox optional. All other models come solely equipped with the CVT automatic gearbox, and all models, including the ES, are front-wheel-drive only.

The Mirage is excruciatingly slow; acceleration from a standstill is tortoise-like and from there, power delivery is deficient and painfully gradual. When being worked hard and when (eventually) at higher speeds, the engine quickly begins to feel and sound intensely strained, almost completely losing impetus up even minor inclines and droning loudly at highway speeds. Driving the Mirage feels like a chore in the city, let alone attempting highway overtakes - its engine simply feels incapable of doing what's asked of it, even with the Mirage being a relatively lightweight subcompact hatch.

While the manual gearbox does help the driver maintain better control over the engine's power delivery, specifically in keeping gears within the engine's powerband, it doesn't really have the engine feel any sprier, and it diminishes gas mileage. The CVT automatic isn't any better, it fails at getting the Mirage up to speed any quicker, and feels as incompetent as the manual.

  • Engine
    1.2-liter Inline-3 Gas
  • Transmissions
    5-Speed Manual, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Couple a subcompact vehicle with low-grade underpinnings and you're more likely to get better ride quality and handling from a home-made go-kart. Its unenthusiastic engine makes its a bore to drive and its standard suspension setup and dampers feel incompetent at supporting its featherweight chassis. Typical road imperfections and undulations permeate throughout the cabin, and the chassis feels unsettled over any surface, short of perfection. The cabin does little to isolate exterior noise including engine, road, and wind noise, which all penetrate the cabin notably - excessively so at higher speeds.

In terms of handling, the steering's responses are slow, and a lot of effort is required to get the steering back to center after a turn. Body roll is prominent through corners and because of the Mirage's high seating position, unsupportive seats, and tiny wheels, it feels top-heavy and uneasy overall. Mid-corner bumps unsettle the chassis drastically, too, and the small wheels provide considerably little grip. The brake pedal is easy to modulate in everyday driving, but the stopping power provided by the small brake discs does not inspire confidence.

On the plus side, the Mirage is very nimble in tight streets and parking lots, thanks to its tight turning circle and small size. At the end of the day, the Mirage is nothing more than a means to get from point A to point B faster than on foot, and at a low cost. Many of its core rivals offer greater driving pleasure in engagement and comfort.

Mirage Gas Mileage

The Mitsubishi Mirage is quite simply, the most fuel-efficient subcompact hatchback in the U.S.A. The CVT-equipped model is the most fuel-efficient model from the lineup, returning EPA estimates of 36/43/39 mpg city/highway/combined. The manual-equipped ES model is a little less fuel-efficient, but it still returns efficient estimates of 33/41/36 mpg on those same cycles. The Chevrolet Spark only manages 29/38/33 mpg, while the more powerful Honda Fit achieves 33/40/36 in its most efficient trim. The small Mirage only carries 9.2 gallons of gas, which avails the Mirage with a maximum range of 358 miles before running empty.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    9.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 33/41 mpg
* 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage ES Manual

Mirage Interior

The Mirage's overall build quality is cheap, as expected from a budget-friendly car, although panel gaps are even and fixtures and fittings all feel firmly in place. Moving to the inside reveals the Mirage's shortcomings, however. The tangible impression is one of low quality with the majority of the cabin's materials being low-grade and the seats and key-touch points feeling cheap and flimsy. The cabin's ergonomics are also questionable as the driver's driving position feels awkward in correlation with the steering wheel and controls, though all are in easy enough reach. The seats up front are spacious but passenger room overall is rather confined in the rear, as is expected of the segment.

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Rear Passenger Seats Mitsubishi
2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Rear Passenger Seats 1 Mitsubishi
2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Front Seats Mitsubishi
See All 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Although Mitsubishi advertises the Mirage as a five seater, the rear seats will only seat two adults at best, and even then, they need to be on the shorter end of the spectrum. Headroom is somewhat limited, too, whether in the front or the back, and any occupant over six-feet-tall will struggle for comfort. Legroom is otherwise only tight in the rear, with a bit more space to stretch out in front. The driver's seat is six-way manually-adjustable and the front passenger's seat four-way manually-adjustable, which isn't particularly accommodating. To make matters worse, the cloth seats aren't very comfortable or supportive at all, and many rivals in this class offer better seating. Outward visibility is good all-round by virtue of the thin B- and C-pillars, but the driver's seating position is slightly awkward with the seat feeling too high-set and perched awkwardly over the steering wheel.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Because the Mirage is a budget-friendly vehicle, the interior is kept low-grade and relatively plain. All models but the ES are availed with black fabric seating surfaces, while the seats in the ES are upholstered in black fabric with red accent surfaces as part of its limited-edition allure. A silver-painted shift panel is standard in the ES, with all other models featuring a gloss black shift and audio panel. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob are standard as of the LE model, while added red accent stitching features in the LE only.

Mirage Trunk and Cargo Space

The Mirage has an impressive 17.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats, which is enough room for a month's worth of grocery shopping for a small family. That's more capacity than that of the Chevrolet Spark though, which offers only 11.1 cu-ft behind the rear seats, as well as the Honda Fit which offers 16.6 cu-ft. If more cargo room is required for more or larger items, the rear seats do feature a split folding function which expands cargo room to 47 cu-ft. This is at least one area where this otherwise bland car impresses.

The Mirage has a decent amount of in-cabin storage solutions for how compact it is. There are practical door side pockets with bottle holder sections on both front doors, and two cupholders located ahead of the center console. A single cupholder is available to the rear, and there is a small storage slot ahead of the dual cupholders up front. The passenger-side glovebox is rather compact, however.

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Trunk Space Mitsubishi
2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Side View Mitsubishi
2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Rear Angle View Mitsubishi
  • Maximum Cargo Space
    47 ft³

Mirage Infotainment and Features

Features

The Mirage comes outfitted with the bare minimum in features as an entry-level budget-friendly vehicle. In the base-spec ES, there's remote keyless entry, all-power accessories, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, four-way manually-adjustable front passenger seat, a split-folding rear seat, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and cruise control. Stepping up to the LE brings with it a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, heated front seats, and a driver's seat armrest. The SE loses the heated front seats but is installed with a fast-key entry system and with push-button start, which the GT also gets along with heated front seats.

Infotainment

The base-spec ES is outfitted with a seven-inch touch panel display that's connected to a stock AM/FM stereo and a four-speaker sound system. HD radio connectivity is standard as of the entry-spec trim, along with Bluetooth wireless technology. Every other model is fitted with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display with smartphone-link display audio and an AM/FM/MP3-compatible stereo with a CD-player. Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard with this system, as is voice recognition by means of a steering-mounted button. In all models, there is only a single USB port located in the front of the center console alongside a single 12-volt power outlet.

Mirage Problems and Reliability

The last recall sent out for a Mitsubishi Mirage pertained to the 2018 year model which was recalled for a faulty airbag system, where the airbags would potentially not deploy in the event of an accident or crash. J.D. Power is yet to provide a reliability rating for the 2020 Mirage, but considering the extensive warranty and limited number of recalls, the Mirage is generally regarded as quite reliable. Mitsubishi covers the Mirage with a typical five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and an industry-leading ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Mirage Safety

The Mitsubishi Mirage scored mixed safety ratings from both the NHTSA and the IIHS - from the NHTSA the vehicle was afforded a four-star overall rating, while the IIHS scored it with top results of Good in four out of five specified crash tests, with a score of Marginal for the driver-side small overlap front.

Key Safety Features

The standard consignment of safety and advanced driver-assist features are identical for every Mirage model - there are the basic essentials such as ABS, EBD, ASC, and TPMS, as well as seven standard airbags, including a driver's side knee airbag. Hill-start assist, a rearview camera, and cruise control are all also standard in every model. Unfortunately, while most modern vehicles have standard advanced driver-assist technologies, or at least the option to add it on, there is nothing more above the aforementioned features available for the Mirage.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage a good car?

What needs to be understood with the Mitsubishi Mirage is that it's a vehicle designed to get its occupants from one point to the next at the lowest possible cost. It's a budget-friendly vehicle, so there should be no expectations of luxury or superior technology. At least it boasts best-in-class fuel-efficiency and excellent cargo space, but that's about it when it comes to the Mirage's perks. Mitsubishi has also fitted the Mirage, barring the base-spec ES, with a semi-decent infotainment system comprising full smartphone integration, in an attempt to balance out its inefficiencies. But, those perks do very little to distract from the Mirage's terrible performance, handling, and ride quality. The cabin also exhibits a low-quality impression and the seats are notably uncomfortable and unsupportive. Furthermore, in an era where optimal levels of driver and passenger safety are expected at the standard level, the Mirage's lack of safety and advanced driver-assist technologies is a huge drawback, too.

Mitsubishi does offer the Mirage with an industry-leading powertrain warranty, but its shortcomings heavily outweigh its advantages. Almost any of the Mirage's core class rivals offer greater packages overall, from driving experience, to value, and everything in-between.

What's the Price of the 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage?

The Mirage ES equipped with the five-speed manual gearbox sets the tone for the budget-oriented lineup at an MSRP of $13,995; the Mirage ES equipped with the CVT automatic gearbox is priced at $15,295. The mid-tier Mirage LE, which starts at $16,195, is followed by the Mirage SE, which has a starting price of $16,745. The Mirage GT, the top-spec model of the lineup is given an MSRP of $17,295. Those prices are excluding Mitsubishi's destination and handling fee of $995 as well as any tax, registration, or licensing fees.

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Models

There are four Mirage models that make up the lineup, and all are equipped with a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine. The ES, which is the base-spec model, can be equipped with either a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT automatic gearbox. All other models. The LE, SE, and GT, are solely equipped with the CVT automatic gearbox.

In terms of features, the ES comes outfitted with remote keyless entry, all-power accessories, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, four-way manually-adjustable front passenger seat, a split-folding rear seat, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and cruise control. For infotainment, there's a seven-inch touch panel display with a stock AM/FM stereo and four-speaker audio system.

The LE comes fitted with a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, heated front seats, and a driver's seat armrest. The infotainment system at this level is upgraded to a 6.5-inch touchscreen display with smartphone-link display audio and an AM/FM/MP3-compatible stereo with a CD-player. It also comes installed with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality

The SE makes do without the heated front seats but gets a fast-key entry system, push-button start, and LED fog lights.

The GT is outfitted with heated front seats and all the niceties from the LE, it's equipped with HID projector-beam headlights, exclusive GT badging, and 15-inch alloy wheels.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
ES
1.2-liter Inline-3 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
$13,995
LE
1.2-liter Inline-3 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$16,195
SE
1.2-liter Inline-3 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$16,745
GT
1.2-liter Inline-3 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$17,295
See All 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There aren't many packages available for the Mirage lineup, with options limited to a small selection of standalone upgrades or accessories. There is a $595 Rockford Fosgate Premium Audio System featuring a 300-watt amplifier and molded enclosure with dual subwoofers available for every Mirage model as a standalone option. Every model can be upgraded with LED Running Lights and chrome front bumper garnish for $450. A remote engine start system is available for all CVT-equipped models at a price of $666. Front and rear park assist sensors can be opted on at a cost of $480.

What Mitsubishi Mirage Model Should I Buy?

The Mirage LE is our recommended pick from the lineup, as it comes outfitted with a considerable number of features and basic accessories absent on the ES. Some of these include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, heated front seats, and a driver's seat armrest. Moreover, it comes with an advanced infotainment system which comprises a touchscreen display and full smartphone integration. For an improved experience in the Mirage, we suggest including the optional Rockford Fosgate Premium Audio System. The front and rear park sensors are also recommended to improve driving safety.

Check out other Mitsubishi Mirage Styles

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Comparisons

Nissan Versa Sedan Nissan
Chevrolet Spark Chevrolet

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage vs Nissan Versa Sedan

The Nissan Versa is available only in the sedan body style for the 2020 model year, and it's just shy of $1,000 more expensive than the Mirage - but its an alternative well worth considering. With a more powerful 1.6-liter engine, the Versa is the more pleasurable vehicle to drive, there's more pep under the hood and a little more verve from the chassis. The Versa isn't as fuel-efficient as the Mirage, but it isn't too far behind with EPA estimates of 32/40/35 mpg for the automatic version. The Versa is outfitted with a far more premium-feeling and commodious cabin, the visual impression is far more contemporary, passenger room is ample, and the seats are a lot more comfortable and supportive. There are many more in-cabin storage solutions than in the Mirage, and in terms of infotainment, full smartphone integration is included with most of the Versa models, too. The Nissan Versa is definitely the better vehicle in this comparison, delivering greater value for money, and a better package overall, despite lacking hatchback practicality.

See Nissan Versa Sedan Review

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage vs Chevrolet Spark

The Chevrolet Spark is slightly cheaper than the Mirage, and, while a little more compact in size, is equipped with a larger, more powerful four-cylinder engine. The Spark proves a little peppier than the Mirage with its more competent engine, though it isn't quite as fuel-efficient, returning EPA estimates of 30/38/33 mpg with its CVT gearbox equipped. A five-speed manual gearbox is made available for more than one model in the Spark lineup, which may appeal to those who want the slight level of driver engagement along with the creature-comforts of the upper-level models. There's more value found within the Spark lineup as well, with more features included as standard on all models and more optional features available, specifically driver-assist technologies. The Spark is furthermore, equipped with a best-in-class ten airbags which means it would be the safer entry-level car. Overall, the Spark delivers far more value for money than the Mirage, and though a lot smaller and less practical, is the better all-rounder.

See Chevrolet Spark Review

Mitsubishi Mirage Popular Comparisons

$13,995 - $17,295
Price Range (MSRP)
Mitsubishi Mirage
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