2018 Mirage New Car Test Drive
After launching as a 2014 model, the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage subcompact has fresh look and several added features. A four-door sedan, named Mirage G4, has joined the original hatchback.
Appearance revisions for 2017 include a new grille and bumpers. Headlights and foglamps have changed, with new wheels and a rear spoiler. Mitsubishi claims handling has improved courtesy of a stiffened suspension. Seat materials also have been upgraded.
Mirages come in three trim levels: base ES, midrange SE, and upper-end GT. Each holds a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that makes a mere 78 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque. Those figures make Mirage the least powerful car at U.S. dealerships.
A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard with ES and SE trim, but an extra $1,200 buys Mitsubishi's continuously variable transmission (CVT). Promising better gas mileage, the CVT incorporates a two-speed gearbox, boasting a wider-than-usual range between its lowest and highest ratios. GT models come only with the CVT.
Manufactured in Thailand, the 2014 Mirage sold considerably better than expected. Hatchbacks rank among the smallest, most fuel-efficient, and least-costly cars on sale. Skimpy power from a tiny engine is the primary penalty for those virtues.
Positioned between minicar and subcompact status, the lightweight Mirage offers substantially more interior space than expected. On the highway, it's noisy and sluggish. Ride quality lacks control at higher speeds. Thrift-minded buyers may be delighted, but drivers who anticipate a joyful experience would likely be disappointed.
Safety is another sore spot, considering crash-test scores as well as available features. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the hatchback a four-star (out of five) overall rating, with four stars for both frontal and side-impact crashes.
In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the hatchback earned top Good rating for side-impact and moderate-overlap front-impact crashes, but only Marginal for the small-overlap front-impact test. The G4 scored even lower, dropping to Acceptable for side-impact, and hasn't been tested at all by the federal agency. All told, Mirage safety scores rank among the lowest.
Only upper trim levels have a standard rearview camera. Active-safety features, such as collision and lane-departure warnings, aren't available at all.
Mirage ES ($12,995 with manual, $14,195 with CVT) includes air conditioning, keyless entry, steel wheels, a 60/40 split-folding rear seatback, 14-inch steel wheels, and a 4-speaker, 140-watt sound system. Bluetooth is optional. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $835 destination charge.)
Mirage SE ($14,795 with manual, $15,995 with CVT) includes alloy wheels, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, cruise control, steering-wheel audio controls, pushbutton start, and alloy wheels. Infotainment with a 6.5-inch touchscreen incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Mirage GT ($16,495) has standard CVT, heated front seats, bi-xenon HID headlights, two-tone 15-inch alloy wheels, and sportier body trim.