Vital Stats

Engine:
1.2L I3
Power:
74 HP / 74 LB-FT
Transmission:
CVT
0-60 Time:
12.8 Seconds (0-62 est.)
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,051 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
47.0 CU-FT
MPG:
37 City / 44 HWY
Base Price:
$12,995
As Tested Price:
$16,890
This could have been something great. Last fall, Mitsubishi slapped its triple-diamond badge on a dainty little hatchback called Mirage, offering plenty of functionality and 44 miles per gallon on the highway, all starting at a super-low $12,995. For budget shoppers, this seemed to be a good thing – not to mention a much-needed breath of fresh air for the company's waning US automotive arm.

I will fully admit to being a bit harsh on the Mirage following its debut at the 2013 New York Auto Show, often making it the butt of jokes with my colleagues. But at the end of the day, I love cheap, basic, honest little cars like this, and I wasn't prepared to write off the Mirage until I spent some time behind the wheel. After all, on paper, a Mazda2 looks pretty unremarkable, and yet it's one of my favorite small cars to drive.

Much as I wasn't looking forward to putting my foot in my mouth, I was sort of hoping to feel the same way about the new Mirage. It's a bland package, but it could have been filled with the same spunky spirit and well-meaning composure of vehicles like the aforementioned Mazda, or even stuff like the Honda Fit or Chevy Spark and Sonic.

It could have. And in this day and age, it should have.
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage2014 Mitsubishi Mirage2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

This Mitsu already looks mid-Nineties dated.

Let's start with first impressions where, if I'm honest, the Mirage doesn't even look like a new-for-2014 model. There's this sort of charming, cartoon-like quality to the design of many modern subcompacts – look at the oversized features of a Spark, Fit or Fiesta to see what I mean. Their big eyes, tall glass area and seemingly oversized mirrors are often endearing – cute, really. But the Mirage just doesn't have it. I suppose it didn't help that my test car was painted in this gray-as-the-sky Starlight Silver, but even in flashier Kiwi Green or Plasma Purple, there's no escaping that this Mitsu already looks mid-Nineties dated.

At 148.8 inches long, 65.6 inches wide and 59.1 inches tall, the Mirage is ever-so-slightly larger than the aforementioned Spark, yet it offers a wee bit less passenger volume than the taller Chevy. That means the Mirage is easy to drive and easy to park, with good visibility all around. Puny 14-inch wheels are placed at all four corners, wrapped in 165/65-series tires – if you want bigger duds, you'll have to look to the aftermarket. The 14-inch rollers are standard across the board, though ES models are fitted with the seven-spoke alloys you see here. Larger rolling stock might – might – help the Mirage's driving dynamics, but as I would come to learn, it's still pretty much a lost cause when it comes to driver involvement.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage2014 Mitsubishi Mirage2014 Mitsubishi Mirage2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

Power comes courtesy of a 1.2-liter MIVEC inline three-cylinder engine delivering 74 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 74 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Considering the Mirage's curb weight of just 2,051 pounds in ES trim with the continuously variable transmission, it's an appropriate amount of power (the heavier Spark makes due with just 84 hp, after all), and around town, running between stop signs and red lights, it's mostly adequate.

The engine's vibrations are strong enough that you can actually feel them through the steering wheel.
Mitsubishi estimates the Mirage will accelerate to 62 miles per hour in 12.8 seconds with the CVT, or a more spritely 11.7 seconds with the five-speed manual. Yes, that's slow, and while it's not completely horrible when pulling away from a stoplight in traffic, that lack of grunt is very noticeable during highway passing and on-ramp merging moments. Pack the Mirage with four adults as we did (let's say, 600 pounds), and it's pretty brutal, as it can be with some other cars in this class. Drag race a Chevy Spark, for example, and you'll likely keep an even pace.

Ford has really set the standard for modern, three-cylinder engines – its excellent 1.0-liter EcoBoost unit being highly regarded around the world for its smoothness and efficiency. And while Mitsubishi certainly has the economy thing under control (the Mirage will easily hit its 37/44/40 city/highway/combined mpg ratings), smoothness is an issue. Fire up the Mirage, and the engine shudders to life. At a standstill, the engine's vibrations are strong enough that you can actually feel them through the steering wheel and inside the car.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mirage's electric power steering is downright terrible.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but my car arrived fitted with Mitsubishi's continuously variable unit that allows for those excellent fuel economy numbers. It's not nearly as easy to live with as Nissan's Xtronic CVTs, but it works just fine, and that's just about all that needs to be said. Driving the Mirage is a noisy experience, with not just engine din and transmission drone present, but also a fair amount of wind noise. I've heard that the manual setup is far more rewarding, and honestly, anything that offers a stronger connection between car and driver in the Mirage would be welcomed.

And then there's the handling. The Mirage's electric power steering is downright terrible. It's a setup that provides little-to-no feedback at any point during the action of cornering. On-center vagueness is plentiful, so driver confidence is in short supply. You cannot feel what the wheels are doing, so you're left playing guess-and-check as you head down the road.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

Credit where credit's due, however: the brakes are actually pretty good.

The suspension consists of a MacPherson strut setup in the front and a torsion beam in the rear. Here, too, things are pretty unfortunate. There is a ton of body roll, matched with a dollop of fore/aft pitch under acceleration and braking, and the suspension is just as crashy over broken pavement as it is vague in the turns. Credit where credit's due, however: the brakes are actually pretty good. There's linear, solid pedal feel, matched with adequate stopping power to slow all 74 of those horses down.

But decent braking can't make up for all of the Mirage's dynamic shortcomings. The Mitsu is, simply put, one of the worst new cars I've tested. And it's not because it's underpowered. Allow me to bring up the Mazda2 again – it only has 100 horsepower, but it's still one of the best small cars you can drive. The difference with the Mazda is that the chassis is tuned for driver involvement, whereas the Mirage truly feels like every facet of the driving experience has been engineered to be as disconnected and hands-off as possible. It's like an executive at Mitsubishi told his engineers, "Make me a cheap car," and gave no further instructions. Take a sharp turn in the Mazda2, and you'll be surprised at just how entertaining a lightweight, front-drive car can be. Take that same turn in the Mirage, however, and the massive body roll and lack of driver feedback will leave you discouraged.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage2014 Mitsubishi Mirage2014 Mitsubishi Mirage2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mirage can accommodate 47 cubic feet of cargo – far more than the Spark.

The Mirage's interior doesn't help things either, with unsupportive, decidedly uncomfortable cloth seats up front and a completely flat rear bench (all done up in this weird – look closely – purple/black dot matrix pattern). In front of the driver is everything you need and nothing you don't, with an honest (if basic) instrument panel and easy-to-locate controls for all vehicle functions. And if you're blessed enough to have the ES trim, there's even keyless ignition, though the push-button start is located in a rather awkward position on the left side of the steering wheel (à-la Porsche). The plastics look cheap and don't feel particularly great to the touch, either. Even when you consider its $12,995 starting price, the Mirage's cabin feels discount and dated.

The rear bench folds flat-ish, meaning the Mirage can accommodate 47 cubic feet of cargo – far more than the 31.2 cubes available in the Spark. And if you're forced to sit in the back seat of the Mirage, it's not as cramped as you might think. Uncomfortable? Oh, yeah. But at least your knees won't be pressed into the front seatbacks.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

The cons far outweigh the pros when considering the Mirage.

Fully loaded, my test car arrived packed with Bluetooth connectivity, a navigation/infotainment system housed within a relatively large touchscreen interface, and a backup camera (notice the tumor-shaped protrusion on the car's rump). All in, a loaded Mirage ES will set you back $16,890, including $795 for destination. That's cheap, sure, but a top-shelf Spark will only set you back an additional $320, and you get things like better infotainment, heated leatherette seats, larger alloy wheels, a more modern cabin and better driving dynamics. As much as I want to say the Mirage works from a value proposition standpoint, the more features you add, the less sense it makes. And if you're just looking for basic, affordable transportation at the DE level, try the far roomier $11,990 Nissan Versa.

It's a shame the Mirage is such a dud. If there's one thing Mitsubishi could use here in the States, it's good, fresh product to bring people back into its showrooms. The Mirage's attractive price point will likely get the attention of the budget-minded set, but it's still not the best deal you can get. And while the Mirage did briefly hold the title of being America's most fuel-efficient non-hybrid, the 1.0-liter Ford Fiesta now bests it.

Sad to say, the cons far outweigh the pros when considering the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage. What could have been a decent little subcompact is in fact an all-around poor product. And it should have been so much more.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 178 Comments
      djrroar1
      • 11 Months Ago
      Mitsu plans on selling around 8000 a year and they delivered 1388 in Dec, looks like they are off to a great start!!
      Chris
      • 11 Months Ago
      let me put it this way, when i saw the car i was way disappointed. The Lancer is a stylish car even though its old at this point. The Mirage looks like something that took the place of the late 80's Colt/Mirage. I voiced my opinion while looking at one and to my side, my better half speaks up and she says " I like it, it's cute and basic" That pretty much says it all.
      Teleny411
      • 11 Months Ago
      The back seat bench looks Soviet in origin.
      The Wasp
      • 11 Months Ago
      I believe the Mirage's fuel economy is better than the Versa. Has anyone done the math to figure out how long it would take to make up the $1005 MSRP difference?
      Scooter
      • 11 Months Ago
      Transactions will probably average around $14,000 or a little more. Given its total lack of power, style and just about anything else beyond a basic vehicle, it's not a very great value. If your one of those people that obsesses over "new" cars but don't want anything even remotely stylish or fun to drive, this is your chariot. The first car I ever bought was only $12,000, had only 34,000 miles,more than twice the horse power, and even AWD. Paying around $15,000 for a "new" car like Mirage seems absurd. Not to mention Mitsubishi's are not the most reliable cars out there, and driving one of their most basic models doesn't sound appealing. What I'm saying is, its totally absurd to buy such a barebones car when the same money could buy better used cars, heck, even a used Prius can out shine Mirage in every category. My friend and I bought cars at the same time, mine was a gently used 2008, and his was a brand new Lancer. Just about everything that could go wrong with his car has happened, I've had absolutely 0 problems with my car, in fact I still own it.
        Healthy Chap
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Scooter
        >I'm a former Mitsubishi employee >I bought an Outlander and it has about 70000 miles. Credibility -> window
          Natural
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Healthy Chap
          Howso? I no longer have any affiliation with Mitsu and thought enough of the vehicle to go back and buy one. Who is going to be a more credible source to comment on Mitsubishi reliability than a former Mitsubishi parts manager and current owner? Unless you are a Journeyman mechanic working at a Mitsubishi dealer and have a differing opinion, then I do not see your point.
        Natural
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Scooter
        Not disputing your opinion on the Mirage, as I have never driven one. But I suspect your friend's Lancer was either an anomaly or a victim of abuse. I worked as a parts manager for a large Mitsubishi dealer in Canada from 08-11 and I can tell you from my experience and from customer testimony that late model Mitsubishi's are as reliable as anything on the road. After I left in 2011 I actually went back to buy a new 2011 Outlander XLS. It currently has 121,000km and has had 1 warranty claim so far... a bulb on a heated seat switch. Sorry your friend had poor luck, but I can't agree with your comment or the general stigma of comments on this site which question Mitsu reliability. Having worked at the source for several years and closely with the technicians/service dept, I just did not see it.
      Car Guy
      • 11 Months Ago
      Wow, shockingly bad. The Fit, Sonic, Fiesta, Versa, are all vastly superior for 2-3K more. How can Mitsubishi possibly live another year in the US if this represents their best shot at "new" for 2014?
        Tourian
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Car Guy
        The have been growing in sales and they are selling the Mirage as fast as they can build it in other markets. So yeah..
          Car Guy
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Tourian
          "In other markets". I'm sure Suzuki still does well in other markets too.................
          j0nny5
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Tourian
          ...in markets where the per-capita income is less than $10,000US, maybe. It's a car. It does car things. Runs and drives. carries people and things. None of them particularly well. I'm sure the Tata Nano sells well too, and that thing doesn't have an opening rear hatch, or a "does not burst into flames".
          Tourian
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Tourian
          It is so far doing well in this market, exceeding their expectations. I just thought I'd give it more time and wait for more hard numbers before I said "in this market." Trolls and haters don't get that concept.
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Tourian
          [blocked]
      Judyz
      • 11 Months Ago
      It is amazing what people will buy. I had a longing to see this because of a trusty old 1991 Colt I once had. Unfortunately this looks like it could have been the follow up model to that car and not something introduced in 2014. Based on the amount of cost cutting they did this should have been priced lower. It should be the cheapest car on the market and it isn't. Interestingly it is making up about 20% of their sales in the USA and helping them to post huge increases. So it has been a hit for them. But then people still buy Toyota's horrible little Yaris.
      DBrown
      • 11 Months Ago
      You can hate on the Mirage all day long, but the value is there. Low price, high mileage, a long features list (even if some of it's optional), and a new warranty. There will always be shoppers looking for exactly this. So it's no fun to drive. What a shock. And you won't haul four kids and a week of groceries in a Corvette either. This thing starts at $13K. And that 3-banger Fiesta? And the Mazda 2? Remember: for shoppers in this class, even a thousand dollars is real money. Sure, it's tempting to compare this to a used car. But you could do that with any new car on the market. That in itself doesn't make the Mirage good or bad. New is new and used is used. Deal with it. As somebody pointed out, Mitsu's target for this car is 7000 units, and it's sold 1300 in two months. So far there's a disconnect between the naysayers and the numbers. Mitsubishi may not ultimately survive in the U.S., but predicting its doom at this point is hardly contrarian or visionary. When you read this discussion you can tell who's living in the real world, and who's playing 'industry analyst.'
        offib
        • 11 Months Ago
        @DBrown
        It won't ultimately survive? Oh, I'd take the brunt and hate of it, but I'll be optimistic, I won't say that'll too soon to Mitsubishi. They're much better off than they were in 2011. The Mirage I see was one of the steps to the company's revival back from its near brink situation. Other than the new Outlander, I don't know what else they have up their sleeves apart from two things. The Outlander PHEV (release not till 2015 because of production issues) and the 2014 i-MiEV that will come in April. Yes, that little joke of a thing. Considering that thing has reduced its price by 20%, after federal $7500 reductions, it can be had for under $16,000, then there's additional, various state credits like California's $2500, Colorado's $6500 or Georgia's $5000 tax credit. That's something that'll get some extra attention. Like the Mirage, cheap can spark interest from a lot of people and fleet buyers. I predict Mitsubishi can sell a low average of 500 i-MiEVs per month which is on the low side for nationwide available EVs (compared to the LEAF's 2000 - 2500 per month), that's 4500 units from April to December. 6000 units per year for the i-MiEV. With that sort of potential, I think it's sane enough to say that Mitsubishi will do well a bit more this year. Just a bit.
      NewTexian Brewery
      • 11 Months Ago
      Looks right at home in the early 1990's.
      NightFlight
      • 11 Months Ago
      Had a chance to drive one a little over a month ago, and I couldn't agree with this review any more. It is a terrible attempt at offering an inexpensive vehicle, especially given the competition in the segment. Even the Versa, which I despise, is a FAR better alternative than the Mirage. The Spark is a better car as well, all you have to do is sit in it for a single minute to tell it is better than the Mirage. Mitsubishi needs a complete overhaul, stat.
        Tourian
        • 11 Months Ago
        @NightFlight
        Yeah, you're a Mitsubishi hater yet you always find time to drive everything they put out. Next time just put "I hate it." Instead of trying to spin the anecdotal yarn about your supposed unbiased reviewing prowess.
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Tourian
          [blocked]
          Tourian
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Tourian
          Sweeping up the detail bay at the local automall is not "working in the industry."
          j0nny5
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Tourian
          You seem to be a paid shill. Name a current Mitsu product sold in the US other than the Evo that's not woefully behind its competitors in almost every way possible.
          NightFlight
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Tourian
          I work in the automotive industry, Tourian. It is impossible to avoid driving a wide variety of models in my line of work... That being said, yes, I did hate it and I have little to no respect for Mitsubishi other than the tremendous Evo which has now become outrageously overpriced.
        chanonissan
        • 11 Months Ago
        @NightFlight
        confuse are you , find nissan 1.6 to be terrible to be used in a mirage, but yet the versa with same engine is a better alternative
          NightFlight
          • 11 Months Ago
          @chanonissan
          The engine doesn't make up the entire vehicle, guy.
      DAB
      • 11 Months Ago
      I read your review with interest. So which one is roomier, the Spark or the Mirage? The Fiesta is smaller inside too. And, Ford's 3 cylinder has a 37 mpg combined average. Mirage with a CVT gets 40 mpg combined. So how is the Ford's mpg better? Many reviewers thought the front seats were comfortable as was the ride. It's not a sports car, it's a city car and the owner reviews are excellent, all four and five stars. And finally, in the safety crashes in Europe and Australia it performed very well in all categories. US testing has not been done yet. Nissan's Versa and Versa Note did not do all that well. I would want the safest car. I believe the Mirage offers a lot of bang for the buck.
      jr
      • 2 Months Ago


      I come from 2 Cadillacs, I bought the Mirage several months ago and have NO complaints at ALL so far. I love what this car does for me the keyless entry, push button start(never have to take the key outta my pocket!) I love that!! its super convenient, I use to lock my keys in my car all the time, and of course the ridiculous MPG I average cty40+/hwy50+ here in San Diego, there slogan-"less is more" and "you get more bang for your buck" is accurate. I never drove a drove any other subcompacts before but I have road in a couple of them the only thing they have on the Mirage is style somewhat n speed in my honest opinion but that's it.

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