Our Take: 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage
The British use the phrase "cheap and cheerful" to describe something that's inexpensive but appealing. And while no one will mistake the Mitsubishi Mirage for anything but a basic city car, its cheeky paint job and eager nature have a cheap and cheerful charm.
Pricing and Equipment
Our test car—a top-of-the-line Mitsubishi Mirage ES finished in a blinding shade of Kiwi Green—listed for $15,990 with destination charges. It came fully loaded and had no optional equipment. A surprisingly upscale list of standard features included:.
- Automatic climate control
- One-touch up/down on the driver's power window
- Bluetooth phone connectivity
- Cruise control
- A leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls
- A 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty
The car's 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine produces just 74 horsepower, and is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The base DE model with a five-speed manual transmission starts at $13,790, including destination.
- We were able to achieve the advertised EPA rating of 44 mpg highway. This is hybrid-like efficiency from a car that costs much less than a hybrid.
- The Mirage feels peppy in city traffic, particularly with a heavy foot on the gas pedal, though aggressive driving does diminish the car's efficiency. If pushed, it can also keep up with freeway traffic—we travelled at speeds up to 80 mph.
- Compact dimensions and light steering make the Mirage easy to maneuver in crowded city centers, and a snap to park.
- The engine has an unrefined, agricultural note, and transmits plenty of vibration when the car is at a stop.
- Skinny tires and ultra-light steering don't inspire confident handling, especially at higher speeds.
- The engine and transmission feel strangely ineffective against steep roads. In two separate circumstances, when starting from a stop, testers wondered if the Mirage would actually make it to the top. (It did in both cases.)
- The tall cabin welcomes four adults, and the rear seat feels more spacious than some midsize sedans.
- The gauge cluster and center console look more upmarket than entry level.
- It's hard not to be impressed by an entry-level subcompact with Bluetooth, automatic climate control and the one-touch driver's window.
- There are some exceptions, but most materials feel cheap—in particular, the upholstery covering flat seats and the plastic cover on flimsy sun visors.
- You'll hear the drone of the engine when you're moving and feel its vibration when you're stopped.
Most Pleasant Surprise
Least Pleasant Surprise
The Bottom Line
If you do lots of highway driving and prize economy above all else, the Mirage is a credible hybrid alternative that saves even more by being so much cheaper than any hybrid.
In any case, the Mirage is for the price-sensitive driver, and that's why we recommend the base DE model over the ES we tested. You'll give up a few extras, and a few miles per gallon with the five-speed manual transmission, but $13,790 (including destination) is a reasonable price that keeps the Mirage cheap and cheerful.
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