No More Manual. The most notable change for the Mirage going into the 2023 model year is the omission of its manual transmission option. Although three-pedal enthusiasts probably won’t be mourning Mitsubishi’s uninspiring five-speed with its slushy flexible linkage cables, this change does present another issue. Buyers are now stuck with the anemic CVT, which is not only even drearier to drive, but also trickier to maintain. Perhaps more importantly, dropping the stick shift option ups the starting price by almost $2,000.

Dated Interior. The 2023 Mirage’s interior feels cheap and dated, because frankly, it is. Mitsubishi has been peddling the current generation of the Mirage since 2012, and its interior was far from a showstopper back then. To be fair, the interior has not gone unchanged during the Mirage’s production run, with modern touches such as the addition of a touchscreen (which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard), but it is still not a place you’ll want to spend a lot of time.

In addition to the paltry materials, the Mirage’s cabin feels cramped, especially in the rear. Mitsubishi cut corners in the interior. That’s to be expected as this is an economy car, but the cost of those frugal measures is an interior nearly devoid of comfort. Road and wind noise perforate the cabin more than in most modern cars, and the seats and suspension do not offer the kind of support you’d want for a long road trip.

Slightly Less Dated Exterior. As previously mentioned, the Mirage has gone without a redesign for over a decade now. However, Mitsubishi has given it two substantial exterior facelifts in an attempt to at least give the allusion of modernity. The Mirage has sported its current look since 2019, and although improved over the previous iteration, its exterior styling does not cover up the fact this is a cheap and outdated design.

Unfortunate Powertrain. The Mirage is still powered by a 1.2 L three-cylinder engine, rated at 78 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque. The three-pot provides enough oomph for everything you’d need around town, but its low final-drive ratio means it’ll be screaming away at higher revs on the freeway than an engine with higher displacement would.

Solid Economy. Although the Mirage’s power output is pretty dismal by modern standards, it does offer competitive fuel economy. The Mirage hatchback is rated at 39 mpg combined, while the slightly less aerodynamic Mirage G4 sedan checks in at 37 mpg. One might expect slightly higher fuel economy figures given the Mirage’s minuscule powerplant and curb weight barely exceeding a ton, but its thriftiness at the pump is certainly one of its strong suits.

So-So Safety. Being a subcompact economy car, one might not expect safety to be one of the Mirage’s strengths. You would be correct. Although the NHTSA has yet to test the most recent version, the Mirage scored only “marginal” in the IIHS’ front small overlap test. To Mitsubishi’s credit, they now offer automatic emergency braking as standard equipment.

2023 Mitsubishi Mirage Interior

Hatchback Practicality. Although not particularly roomy for passengers, the Mirage does offer good practicality in hatchback form. Its 17 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up is nothing out of the ordinary, especially with its relatively high load floor, but fold the seats down and the Mirage’s usable cargo room expands to a healthy 47 cubic feet. For comparison, the Kia Rio is the only other economy subcompact to be offered as a hatch, and it only has room for 32.8 cubic feet.

The Mirage Sedan, called the G4, offers just 12.4 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. Add that in with its slightly worse fuel economy and $1,000 premium over the hatchback, and the G4 is really a puzzling buy.

Final Thoughts. The Mitsubishi Mirage was not a good car when it first arrived in 2012. It was slow, spartan, and uncomfortable even a decade ago. However, it was a good deal. A brand-new Mirage at a dealer lot for under $10,000 was not an uncommon occurrence earlier in its production run. For what it lacked in performance and features, Mitsubishi’s subcompact offering made sense to buyers looking to get into a new car as affordably as possible.

Unfortunately for the Mirage, it no longer possesses the price advantage that once made it stand out among its peers. Losing the manual transmission actually pushes its starting $16,245 MSRP above that of the Nissan Versa, which actually drives, looks, and feels like a vehicle from this decade. If you need a hatchback, the Kia Rio offers much more refinement and a far more viable powertrain for $17,490. Both the Mirage and the Rio come with a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty as well, so the Mitsubishi has no advantage there either.

Check prices for the 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage »