If a fuel-sipping subcompact is important, the latest Mirage is the leader in the clubhouse. Starting at $14,260 (which includes a $865 destination charge), the 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage is available in three trims, is powered by a frugal three-cylinder engine, and returns the highest EPA-estimated miles per gallon for a non-hybrid powered vehicle in North America. The lack of driver-assisted safety features, an uncomfortable interior, arguably the worst driving character of any new car on the market, and less than stellar exterior creativity suggests this vehicle is best suited for those that consider superior fuel economy at a budget price their number one criteria.
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2018 Mitsubishi Mirage Overview
What's New for 2018
The 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage includes a few trim-specific upgrades for the new year. The Mirage ES is now available with a new seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system that features Bluetooth, while the SE gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and a rear-view camera. A driver seat armrest is also added to the Mirage SE and GT trims.
Choosing Your Mitsubishi Mirage
The Mirage is available to North American consumers in three trim levels including the base ES, SE, and GT. Each 2018 Mirage is powered by a 1.2-liter, three-cylinder engine that delivers 78 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque. The base ES comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, while a continuously variable transmission can be added for an additional $1,200. All Mirages are front-wheel drive, with CVT’s returning an EPA-estimated 37 miles per gallon city, 41 mpg highway for a combined 39 mpg. The manual transmission produces slightly poorer fuel economy with 33 mpg city, 41 mpg highway, and a combined 36 mpg. The ES, SE and GT feature eight exterior colors and a single interior color pattern.
This subcompact gets exceptional fuel economy for a non-hybrid powered vehicle, but a number of problems outweigh that sole plus. It's not attractive, is terribly unpleasant to drive, and costs far too much money to tolerate either of those traits. Additionally, Mitsubishi's dealership network is minuscule compared to its Japanese rivals. If you absolutely need excellent fuel economy at a low price, consider a used Toyota Prius C before committing to a Mirage.
2018 Mitsubishi Mirage Review
There aren't a lot of nice things we can say about the 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage. Sure, it returns excellent fuel economy and doesn't take up a lot of space on the road, but it's almost laughably bad in every other metric. It's appalling to drive, offensive to look at and uncomfortable to sit in. It's too pricey, particularly for the more premium trims, to capitalize on a cheap-chic attitude, but it lacks the content or character to get beyond its bargain-basement position.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage is available as either a hatchback or as the Mirage G4 sedan (listed separately). In case you needed a reminder that this is an ultra-economy car, the base Mirage hatch starts at just $14,290 for a five-speed manual variant. You'll want the optional continuously variable transmission, which boosts the price to $15,490.
With the biggest reason for buying a Mirage being its price, we'd choose a CVT-equipped hatchback in ES trim. In addition to the usual features found on past models – power windows and locks, air conditioning, keyless entry, and a rear spoiler – 2018 ES updates include a new, standard seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio capability, and a rear view camera.
- Model: Mitsubishi Mirage ES hatchback
- Engine: 1.2-liter three-cylinder
- Output: 78 horsepower / 74 lb-ft
- Transmission:Continuously variable transmission
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
- MPG: 37 City / 43 Hwy
- Options: No options available
- Base Price: $15,490 (including an $895 destination fee)
- Best Value Price:$15,490
The CVT automatic is smoother than the five-speed manual and returns better fuel economy – an EPA-estimated 37 miles per gallon in the city, 43 on the highway, and 39 combined. And that's where the good performance news ends.
The naturally aspirated three-cylinder engine is coarse and loud when pushed, which would be fine if there were some speed associated with its noise. But even with just 2,000 pounds of car to move around, the 1.2-liter struggles to produce anything close to adequate acceleration.
Making things worse is a suspension that, at speeds of over 50mph, is unable to maintain a consistent and balanced ride. It rolls like a dinghy in a hurricane through bends, to the point that you grow concerned it may tip. The Mirage is among the very worst handling cars on the market. The steering is dimwitted and slow, providing virtually no feedback about the front what the front wheels are doing. Perhaps the only thing the Mirage has going for it is a tight turning circle.
The suspension is utterly unable to cope with anything but the smoothest roads. Presented with a bump, the Mirage descends into an earthquake of jutters that feel like they'll shake the little car onto its side. Road noise is immense, although wind noise isn't so much of an issue – we'd wager this is because the Mirage struggles to reach a speed where wind noise even appears.
The Mirage wears an innocuous exterior that occupies a small footprint. It's conservative design to the point of anonymity. Inside, the cabin is surprisingly large with enough space for four adults. The front seats are couch like, but not in a good way. Cargo volume behind the back seat is a decent 17.2 cu ft that expands to 47.0 cu ft with the back seat folded.
At the same time, the interior features materials that in 1993, Kia would have rejected as being too cheap. The plastics are hard, creaky, and unpleasant. There is no driver's armrest or telescopic steering column, and there's no console storage bin. The front seat cushion is too short, too.
The Best and Worst Things
The Mirage's excellent fuel economy and small footprint make it an attractive urban warrior.
The worst thing about the Mirage is everything else. It's quite literally the worst car on the market in so many different areas its hard to name them all.
Right For? Wrong For?
Excellent fuel economy and an attractive entry-level price should solidify the Mirage's appeal to value-oriented shoppers, those who will never leave the confines of a big city, and fuel sippers that don't want a hybrid.
The Mirage is wrong for nearly everyone else. It lacks the active safety equipment, performance, comfort, style, or technology to appeal to any other significant group of consumers.
The Bottom Line
Despite excellent fuel economy numbers and a surprisingly large cabin, the Mitsubishi Mirage is overwhelmed by far more competent, comfortable, capable, and entertaining rivals that don't require much more money. Consider the Mirage only if you've ruled out a Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Spark, a bus pass, or a Toyota Yaris.
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