2021 Mitsubishi Mirage

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Review: The Most Economical Car In America

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 2021 model year. Entry-level budget-friendly cars seem to still be a major consideration for first-time owners, with the Chevrolet Spark and Kia Rio also in contention in this corner of the market. Remaining unchanged is the Mirage's meager 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine with insubstantial outputs of 76 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 vehicles on sale in the USA, and it's also the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid gasoline car in the States, too. Can these perks justify the substandard interior and sloppy driving dynamics, though? Unfortunately, we don't think they can.

Read in this review:

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Mirage?

Mitsubishi has introduced a few cosmetic updates for the Mirage along with newly standard safety features. Outside, some of the changes include a new Dynamic Shield design for the grille, a sportier front bumper, and two new colors. Inside, a seven-inch display providing access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now comes fitted as standard. Crucially, the entire range now gets standard forward collision warning and pedestrian detection, while the SE trim is available with lane departure warning and automatic high beams.

Buyers can now opt for an available Carbonite Edition (CE), a package that includes a B-pillar decal, red exterior accents, and a unique front grille. Last year's GT variant is no longer available for 2021.

Pros and Cons

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

Best Deals on Mirage

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
ES
1.2L Inline-3 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$14,295
LE
1.2L Inline-3 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$16,220
Carbonite Edition
1.2L Inline-3 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$16,995
SE
1.2L Inline-3 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$17,445

Mirage Exterior

The latest Mirage remains a cute little hatchback but gains a touch more attitude this year with its restyled grille and headlamps. Halogen headlights are standard on all but the top trim which gets LED headlights. All models are fitted with LED taillights and a high-mounted LED stop lamp, but only the SE gets fog lights. The ES rides on 14-inch steel wheels with covers as standard, while the LE and Carbonite Edition (CE) are equipped with 14-inch alloy wheels. The SE comes with larger 15-inch alloy wheels. All models have a rear spoiler. The CE is alone in getting a B-pillar carbon decal, bespoke front and side air dams, and special grille detailing with a red stripe.

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Front Angle View Mitsubishi
2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Front Angle View 1 Mitsubishi
2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Front Angle View 2 Mitsubishi
See All 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback is on the larger side when in the company of other subcompacts. In comparison with the Chevrolet Spark, the Mirage is 8.3 inches longer in overall length at 151.4 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 over 200 pounds lighter than the Spark on average, with curb weights ranging from 2,040 lbs with the manual-equipped ES to 2,117 lbs with the CVT-equipped SE.

  • Length 151.4 in
  • Wheelbase 96.5 in
  • Height 59.4 in
  • Max Width 65.6 in
  • Front Width 56.3 in
  • Rear Width 55.7 in
  • Curb Weight 2,140.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

There are eight exterior paint colors available for the Mirage. White Diamond is the only shade that requires an additional outlay of $395. All the other hues are metallics, including Starlight Silver, Infrared, Mercury Gray, Sapphire Blue, Mystic Black, Sand Yellow (a new addition this year), and Wine Red. Of all those color options, Wine Red and Sand Yellow stand out most. The Carbonite Edition has a reduced color palette that doesn't include Mercury Gray and Starlight Silver.

  • White Diamond
  • Wine Red Metallic
  • Mystic Black Metallic
  • Sand Yellow
  • Starlight Silver Metallic
  • Infrared Metallic
  • Sapphire Blue Metallic
  • Mercury Gray 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 76 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 more than 12 seconds according to independent tests; its top speed is limited to 125 mph. That translates to an incredibly monotonous driving experience. The Mirage's class rivals, 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.

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Top View Mitsubishi
2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Rear View Driving Mitsubishi
2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Rim Mitsubishi

Engine and Transmission

The Mirage is equipped with a 1.2-liter three-pot engine that produces 76 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 motor's powerband, it doesn't really have the engine feel any sprightlier, 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
    1.2L 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 the Mirage 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, being a small car, 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.

Gas Mileage

The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is a lightweight vehicle, and therefore rather fuel-efficient; it is, in fact, the most fuel-efficient car in the States. 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 commendable estimates of 33/41/36 mpg on those same cycles. The Chevrolet Spark only manages 30/38/33 mpg. The small Mirage only carries 9.2 gallons of gas, which gives the Mirage a maximum range of 358 miles before running empty.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    9.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 33/41 mpg
* 2021 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 touchpoints 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 the passenger room overall is rather confined in the rear, as is expected of the segment.

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Rear Passenger Seats Mitsubishi
2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Rear Passenger Seats 1 Mitsubishi
2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Front Seats Mitsubishi
See All 2021 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, leaving the driver feeling perched awkwardly over the steering wheel.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.7 in
  • Front Head Room 39.0 in
  • Rear Leg Room 34.2 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.2 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Because the Mirage is a budget-friendly vehicle, the interior is kept low-grade and relatively plain with black cloth on the lower three trims. The SE feels a bit better quality, though, with its mix of cloth and synthetic leather. This model also enjoys a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, and chrome front inner door handles. The shift panel is silver painted on lower trims but finished in gloss black for the SE. Overall, though, it's possible to see why Mitsubishi has been able to keep the Mirage's price so low from behind the wheel.

Mirage Trunk and Cargo Space

As a hatchback, the Mitsubishi 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. 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 considering 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.

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Trunk Space Mitsubishi
2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Side View Mitsubishi
2021 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. On upper trims, the Mirage gets access to heated front seats, push-button ignition, and lane departure warning, but all versions come with forward collision warning, hill start assist, and a 12-volt power outlet.

Infotainment

The newest Mitsubishi Mirage gets an upgraded seven-inch Display Audio screen. It's linked to features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an AM/FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and a four-speaker sound system. Using the steering wheel controls, drivers can access audio and voice control options. There is just one USB port for charging smartphones. Overall, the setup is nothing special but does come with enough essentials so that younger buyers won't feel too shortchanged.

Mirage Problems and Reliability

The last recall sent out for a Mitsubishi Mirage pertained to the 2018 model year which was recalled for a faulty airbag system, whereby the airbags would potentially not deploy in the event of an accident or crash. Reviews on the Mitsubishi Mirage from J.D. Power resulted in an 82 out of 100 reliability rating for the 2021 iteration, 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. An anti-corrosion warranty runs for seven years or 100,000 miles.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    10 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    7 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles

Mirage Safety

The new Mitsubishi Mirage scored mixed safety reviews from both the NHTSA and the IIHS - the NHTSA's reviews of the 2021 Mirage resulted in an overall four-star overall rating. In the IIHS's reviews, the Mirage scored top results of Good in four out of five specified crash tests, with a score of Marginal for the driver-side small overlap front. Overall, Mirage safety reviews have been good rather than great.

Key Safety Features

The standard consignment of safety and advanced driver-assist features are nearly identical for every Mirage model - there are the basic essentials such as ABS, EBD, ASC, and tire pressure monitoring, 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. This year, every Mirage now comes equipped with forward collision warning which includes pedestrian detection. Additionally, automatic high beams and lane departure warning are fitted to the SE variant.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage a good car?

What needs to be understood is that the Mitsubishi Mirage is a car designed to get its occupants from one point to the next at the lowest possible cost. It's a budget-friendly vehicle by design, 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 with a semi-decent infotainment system comprising full smartphone integration, in an attempt to balance out its inefficiencies. And, the Mitsubishi Mirage gets a decent rating for reliability. Unfortunately, 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, bringing down the overall rating of the Mitsubishi Mirage.

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

🚘2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Prices

Prices for the Mitsubishi Mirage are really attractive; for 2021, the Mirage ES, equipped with the five-speed manual gearbox, sets the tone for the budget-oriented lineup at an MSRP of $14,295; the Mirage ES equipped with the CVT automatic gearbox is priced at $15,595. The mid-tier Mirage LE, which starts at $16,220, is followed by the Mirage Carbonite Edition, which has a starting price of $16,995. The Mirage SE, the top-spec model of the lineup, is given an MSRP of $17,445. Those prices are excluding Mitsubishi's destination and handling fee of $995 as well as any tax, registration, or licensing fees.

2021 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. These are the ES, LE Carbonite Edition, and SE. 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 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, a 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 display with a stock AM/FM stereo and four-speaker audio system.

The LE comes fitted with 14-inch alloy wheels instead of the entry-level's steel wheels and gets the CVT gearbox as standard, but is otherwise identical to the ES.

The new Carbonite Edition has numerous sporty add-ons to set it apart. It has unique front and side air dams, a B-pillar carbon decal, and red detailing for the grille.

The SE is the best-equipped model in the range and gains heated front seats, 15-inch alloy wheels, fabric/synthetic leather upholstery, lane departure warning, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

See All 2021 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. For $500, front and rear parking sensors can be added, although the Mitsubishi is small enough so that these aren't essential. For $545, a remote start system can be added to the SE.

🚗What 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Model Should I Buy?

If you're buying a new Mitsubishi Mirage, you're likely doing so because you want to spend as little cash as possible on a new vehicle. In light of that, we'd simply go for the base Mirage as it has the most appealing price and isn't a fundamentally different car from the other trims. You still get the same infotainment system, most of the same safety features, and at least the choice of a manual gearbox. All the other trims use the CVT. Basically, trying to dress up the Mirage with more features doesn't change that this is little more than an efficient, no-frills daily runabout.

Check out other Mitsubishi Mirage Styles

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Comparisons

Nissan Versa Sedan CarBuzz
Chevrolet Spark Chevrolet
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Mitsubishi Mirage78 hp33/41 mpg$14,295
Nissan Versa Sedan 122 hp27/35 mpg$14,830
Chevrolet Spark 98 hp29/38 mpg$13,600

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage vs Nissan Versa Sedan

Although only available as a sedan, the Nissan Versa begins at below $15,000 so is a worthy alternative to the Mirage. The Versa gets off to a promising start by boasting much more modern styling since it was fully redesigned for the 2020 model year. 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 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

2021 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 also 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

The most popular competitors of 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage:

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