by Roger Biermann
The Mitsubishi Mirage is a subcompact hatchback designed with the budget conscious in mind. It is one of the least expensive cars on sale in the USA, and for good reason. It has a small, underpowered engine, low running costs, and a cheap, dated interior, devoid of many modern features. The plus points of this car are that it comes at a very good price and has fantastic gas mileage estimates. The Mirage is available in three trims, the ES, SE, and GT, all of which use the same three-cylinder 1.2-liter engine which delivers an output of 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. The ES has the option of a five-speed manual transmission or CVT transmission, while the SE and GT are only available with the CVT. Prices start at $13,395 for the ES, going up to $16,595 for the GT CVT.
The Mitsubishi Mirage received an extensive update in 2017, with changes deemed sufficient enough for it to enter 2018 unchanged. There are a few minor updates for 2018, however, as the ES trim gets a seven-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and a center console single USB port with steering mounted audio controls.
There aren't any exterior differences between the 2017 and 2018 models. Overall the Mirage is a four-door subcompact hatch with some very dated styling cues. All models come with a rear spoiler and rear LED combination lights, while xenon headlights are only available on the range-topping GT. The ES comes with boring 14-inch steel wheels, the SE with 14-inch alloys, and the GT with 15-inch alloys.
The Mirage sits firmly in the subcompact hatch class with all models sharing the same dimensions. They all have a wheelbase of just 96.5 inches and a total length of 149.4 inches. The ground clearance is 6.3 inches, while the curb weight ranges between 2,073 lbs for the ES model, up to 2,128 lbs for the GT. In its class, it is shorter and lighter than the Honda Fit which has a length of 161.4 inches and a curb weight of 2,522 lbs, and Ford Fiesta which is 173.6 inches long and has a curb weight of 2,578 lbs.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage is available in eight colors which are available for all trims and all come as standard. Metallic colors include Wine Red, Sunrise Orange, Infrared, Sapphire Blue, Starlight Silver, and Mercury Grey. Pearl White and Mystic Black are the non-metallic colors available. The Mirage is one of the few cars in the Mitsubishi lineup that doesn't charge extra for the Pearl White paint. All of the colors have been carried over from the 2017 model.
All the models share the same engine with 78 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque mated to a CVT transmission, except for the ES, which has the option of a five-speed manual transmission. Regardless, they all perform very poorly, clocking 0-60 mph in a dismal 12.7 seconds. In comparison, the Honda Fit takes 8.4 seconds to hit 60 mph, with the Chevrolet Spark managing it in 10.2 seconds. The acceleration is extremely poor, and even with your foot flat on the accelerator, it feels like an eternity waiting for the Mirage to pick up speed, while the CVT drones in the background. The five-speed manual gives the illusion of more power because it's possible to change down to increase the revs, but it still can't mask the lethargic engine. An estimated top speed of 125 mph is possible, but it takes a lot of work, and you're unlikely to want to pursue such speeds.
All trims in the Mitsubishi Mirage range have the same woeful 1.2-liter, three-cylinder gasoline engine which makes a paltry 78 hp and a mere 74 lb-ft of torque. The lower tier ES model gets the option of either a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT transmission, while the SE and GT get the CVT only.
The acceleration couldn't be any slower and as it picks up speed, a dreadful howl is emitted from the overworked engine as the revs increase. Regardless of whether it's a short trip to the shops or a highway cruise, the lack of power is overwhelming and makes the decision to change lanes or overtake needlessly difficult. With the manual configuration, pushing the revs to the maximum does little to improve the performance as the engine screams by the time it hits 70 mph. The CVT is only marginally better in this regard, still droning but not wringing the engine out fully. However, it offers decreased performance, the compromise it makes for improved gas mileage.
Since the poorly performing three-cylinder engine takes all the fun out of the driving experience, it would be great if the Mirage could make up for it in other aspects, but alas that's not the case. The steering is vague with lots of slack, so finding out where the wheels are pointing can be a matter of guesswork at times. There is excessive body roll even at low speeds, and on straight roads, the Mirage feels like it is bouncing along towards its destination. At higher speeds, the Mirage feels very unstable and the tire noise, engine noise, and wind noise conspire to make the loudest interior possible.
Large bumps send the Mirage bouncing, while smaller bumps permeate the cabin incessantly. Only mirror-smooth roads offer any comfort, but the lack of composure while cornering and the dismal steering feel quickly robs smooth roads of any enjoyment they may have potentially held.
The Mirage is clearly meant for short trips with no frills driving and at the lowest cost possible. It barely achieves this successfully and nearly any other vehicle in this class, such as the Chevrolet Spark and Honda Fit, provide far better handling and performance.
Gas mileage is by far the Mirage's strongest characteristic. All the models in the range use the same three-cylinder 1.2-liter engine with either a five-speed manual or CVT in the ES and a CVT only in the SE and GT. The manual transmission gets fuel economy of 33/40/35 mpg on the city/combined/highway cycles, while the CVT gets fuel economy of 35/41/37 mpg. All trims have a 9.2-gallon capacity gas tank and based on the combined fuel economy, the manual has a range of 322 miles and the CVT models get 340 miles. Compared to most of the competition in this class, the Mirage has better mileage estimates, offering the best figures of any non-electrified vehicle in the United States. The base model Honda Fit only gets 29/36/31 mpg and the Chevrolet Spark gets 29/39/33 mpg.
As with most subcompact hatchbacks, the Mirage has limited space, with only four people managing to fit on the black cloth seats that provide minimal cushioning and support. The Mirage interior features a minimum level of features, with the driver getting an armrest on the GT model only. Throughout the three trims, there is little to alleviate the dreary interior's poverty-sped feel with only minor color changes available on certain trims. Cheap molded plastic with tacky gloss accents are the theme for the dashboard and surrounding areas and would be at home on a mid 90's sedan rather than a 2018 model. Mitsubishi has obviously cut as many costs as possible when designing the interior of the Mirage and it really shows.
For a subcompact hatchback, the Mirage has average space. The seats are cloth-covered and don't offer much in terms of comfort and support due to little padding and uncomfortable seating positions. The front seats have 39.1 inches of headroom and 41.7 inches of legroom. The legroom is fine but due to their high seating position might not be comfortable for taller occupants. The Mirage claims to be a five-seater, but realistically only four adults can fit comfortably because on the narrow rear seat. The rear has below average legroom at 34 inches and even less headroom than the front at 37.3 inches. Due to the sparse cabin and compact design, the front seats provide good all-around visibility. Heated front seats are available on the GT model, while all models have rear split folding seats.
The interior of the Mitsubishi Mirage leaves a lot to be desired. All trims use the same black cloth for the seats. The dash looks like it's from a twenty-year-old car with its cheap matt black molded plastic dashboard. The faux brushed aluminum accents on the vents and even cheaper looking gloss black on the steering wheel and around the infotainment unit do nothing to improve the feel. Both the SE and the GT have a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, as well as a gloss black shift panel and door panel accents. They also get chrome plated front inner door handles. It's obvious that all measures were taken to keep the costs in the Mirage as low as possible, but they went a bit too far and killed any charisma that it could have had.
Subcompact hatches aren't renowned for their cargo space, but the Mirage isn't bad in that department. The trunk has a decent 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up, increasing to a decent 47 cubic feet with them folded down. In comparison, the Chevy Spark has a cargo space of 11.1 cubic feet with the back seats up, and 27.2 with the seats folded down. While the Honda Fit gas a cargo space of 16.6 cubic feet with the seats up and a massive 52.7 with the seats down, representing the benchmark for this vehicle segment.
Other than the trunk, the Mirage has only minimal storage space for small items. The front doors have storage pockets and there's additional storage in the form of a glove box and storage tray with cupholders below the dash by the shift knob. There is no storage space for rear passengers.
Considering that the Mirage is an entry-level subcompact hatch it has some notable basic standard features. The ES model gets air conditioning, a rearview camera, and remote keyless entry. The SE and top-of-the-line GT have FAST-key passive entry with push-button start and automatic climate control. All models also come with power windows, keyless entry, a trip computer, power windows, and power steering. They also have cruise control, and steering mounted controls for the audio system. Unfortunately, there aren't many driver assist safety features such as forward collision detection, lane change warning, or blind-spot detection. Competitors like the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta can easily match and even better what the Mirage has to offer, and both of them have more safety features.
The Mirage has a good infotainment unit considering its price. The entry-level ES has been upgraded to a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and a USB port. From the SE upwards there's a 6.5-inch touchscreen with AM/FM radio and a CD/MP3 player, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard features. The GT is also available with a Rockford Fosgate premium audio system which replaces the four speakers with a 300-watt amplifier which powers six speakers including two six-inch subwoofers. The subwoofers and amplifier fit in a custom box which fits discreetly in the trunk while still leaving space for other cargo.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage has had complaints about a few minor issues like screeching brakes. It's most likely that these issues only affected certain cars and not the entire range. There has also been one recall for the 2018 Mirage for airbags that might not deploy in the event of a crash. Mitsubishi's warranty is amongst the best in the business with a limited warranty of five-year/60,000 miles and a powertrain warranty of ten-year/100,000 mile. The anti-corrosion warranty is seven-years/100,000 mile and roadside assistance is five years and unlimited in mileage.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage has fairly basic safety features compared to most modern cars. It has an overall NHTSA rating of four stars. Since the Mirage hasn't got front crash prevention features, the IIHS couldn't test them. In the other tests, the Mirage received best possible scores of Good, with only the small front overlap test getting a score of Marginal.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage has the minimal standard safety features which are allowed by law, and less than some of the competitors in its class. It has dual front airbags, side-impact curtain airbags in the front and rear, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags and a driver's knee airbag. It also has ABS brakes, active stability control, LATCH car seat anchors, traction control, and brake assist. There's also the reverse camera on the infotainment unit.
The Mirage has very few things going for it. The price of the lower tier models are competitive and due to its small engine, it has fantastic fuel economy. Other than that, the only real attraction is an extensive, class-leading warranty which will give buyers some peace of mind.
However, in all other areas, the Mirage is an atrocious car. It has one of the most underpowered engines available with lackluster performance regardless of which transmission is fitted. The drivetrain is noisy, not aided by the extremely limited amounts of sound deadening equipped. To make matters worse, the steering also lacks responsiveness and the body roll and bumpy ride make driving a very unsettling experience. The seats are uncomfortable, the interior feels cheap, and storage space is highly limited. Its infotainment setup is only slightly redeeming, but many rivals offer better systems.
Yes, it fulfills its role of being one of the cheapest ways of getting between two points without any style whatsoever, but there are far better options out there, like the Kia Rio or Hyundai Accent, that are not only in a similar price bracket, but also beat the Mirage in nearly every department.
The cheapest trim in the Mirage Range is the ES, which comes with either a manual or CVT transmission with an MSRP of $13,395 for the manual and $14,595 for the CVT. Next is the SE, which starts at a price of $16,095. The premium trim GT starts at $16,595. There is also a destination fee of $995 applicable to all trims, and all prices exclude licensing, registration, and taxes, as well as any dealer incentives.
The Mitsubishi Mirage range comprises three trims: ES, SE, and GT. All models in the Mirage range use the same 1.2-liter engine making 78 horsepower.
The ES is the Base model Mirage which comes with either a manual or CVT transmission. It comes with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with rearview camera, Bluetooth, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, and hill start assist as standard features.
The SE, which has the same features of the ES, but adds a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple Carplay compatibility as well as AM/FM radio and MP3 and CD capability. It also adds 14-inch alloy wheels, FAST-key passive entry system with push-button start and panic feature, fog lights, automatic climate control, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a semi-high contrast meter with chrome accents.
The GT is the highest trim in the range. It has all the features of the SE but also adds High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights, 15-inch two-tone alloy wheels, and heated front seats. There is also the option of adding the Rockford Fosgate premium audio system to the GT but at a price of $595.
The Mitsubishi Mirage range is offered with limited availability for options and upgrades, most of which are aesthetic or convenience orientated. There's the All Weather Package at $165, which adds all-weather floor mats and a cargo tray, and the Exterior Package at $595, which adds LED daytime running lights with rear bumper and tailgate garnish. Also available is the LED Illumination Package at $230, which adds blue floor illumination, blue center console illumination, and a roof lamp. The Rockford Fosgate premium audio package is also an optional extra at $ 672.
The best Mirage trim to buy is the SE which sits in the middle of the range. While the ES is the cheapest, it looks ugly with the 14-inch steel wheels and lacks many of the of technology features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as push-button start, automatic climate control, and FAST-key passive entry. The GT model is higher in the range and only adds a couple of features such as heated front seats, 15-inch rims and HID headlights. For the price of $16,595, the GT is also very expensive compared to rivals like the Honda Fit which starts at $16,190 and the Chevrolet Spark which starts at $13,220.
The Mitsubishi Mirage and the Chevrolet Spark are both similar in size with the Spark measuring 143.1 inches in length compared to the 149.4 inches of the Mirage. However, the Mirage has more cargo space with the rear seats up at 17.1 cubic feet compared to the Spark's tiny 11.1 cubic feet. When it comes to infotainment features, the entry-level Spark easily beats the entry-level Mirage by offering two USB ports instead of one, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In the performance department, the Spark also wins, with a 1.4-liter engine which produces 98 horsepower. The Mirage only wins when it comes to fuel economy and having a longer warranty. Overall the Spark is better value for money because it has better performance and more features.
The Honda Fit is the class leader in the subcompact hatch category and is famous for its all-round performance which of course comes at a price. The entry-level LX starts out at $16,190, which is almost the same price as the fully-loaded Mirage GT. In terms of performance, the Fit comes standard with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission which produces 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. The Mirage's feeble 78 hp engine is no match for the Fit. The Fit only has 16.6 cu-ft of cargo space with the rear seats up, compared to the 17.2 cu-ft in the Mirage. The Honda is a slightly bigger car with more passenger space and a solid, modern interior compared to the Mirage's dated black plastic design. The Honda Fit is better than the Mirage in every department but comes at a higher price, which is well worth it.