2017 Mitsubishi Mirage SE

Susan Frissell

The first time in a long time we drove a re-designed Mitsubishi Mirage and we found it enjoyable. For a little commuter car, this Mirage fits the bill. We even found it handy when we needed to load a bicycle to take to our destination point to begin a Sunday ride. The bike didn’t fit all the way in, but it was a lot more convenient than a sedan with a backseat that doesn’t collapse.

There are a lot of likes about the Mirage, including the practical high-utility design, and of course, the great fuel economy. The maneuverability and parking ease, and the ease of driving. Our press car was the entry-level manual so it was easy to drive. mirage2

Handling is mediocre, but about expected in a small sub-compact. Trying to navigate highway driving is an effort, and highway acceleration is sluggish. Noise and vibration are there, but not as much as we expected.

One of the lowest-priced new cars on the U.S. market, the Mirage is probably the most fuel-efficient of the sub-compacts; a lot of car for the money.

For Mitsubishi in the U.S., the Mirage is made in Thailand, and hopes to make some inroads here among all the options a consumer could select. Sales seem to be somewhat decent, but probably not enough to save the brand here in the U.S. In fact, our local Mitsubishi dealership closed last month. Which isn’t a commentary, necessarily, about the brand. There is just too much to choose from.

Although the Mirage isn’t all that rewarding to drive, it does have some redeeming qualities. Don’t expect it to be totally quiet inside, although it didn’t bother our driving to hear a little noise-and-vibration; the kind that makes small cars low on the desirability scale in the past.

An economy car, the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage may be a great value for budget-conscious buyers, and it is an economy car. The economy cars, although not that popular in the U.S., do happen to make sense in other parts of the world. Competition includes such cars as the Ford Fiesta, Smart Fortwo, Nissan Sentra, Kia Rio and Chevrolet Spark. All a little costlier, but not by much. Again, it really depends what kind of driving you’re going to be doing in the Mirage.

Mirage interior

Mirage interior

The Mirage is powered by a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine, with 78 horsepower (up from 74 hp last year), due to new variable valve timing and a roller-type camshaft. This engine provides exceptionally good fuel efficiency, however, as one might assume, a 3-cylinder offers a very modest performance. Performance isn’t noticed as much when driving under 40 mph or so, but when attempting to attack highway-merging and driving, acceleration is especially sluggish, and missing to make any fast moves. The five-speed manual transmission costs less but actually has lower fuel-economy ratings, and for any comfort, one needs to drive in fifth gear.

According to Mitsubishi, improvements to the Mirage have been made to handling for the 2017 model, along with improved spring rates and optimized damping, stiffening the suspension, and upgrading the brake system with bigger front discs and rear drums.

With standard 14-inch wheels and tires, one may want to opt for the 15-inch upgrade (standard on the SE and GT models). Upgraded seat upholstery, a new steering wheel and some upgraded trims and switchgear also come on the 2017 Mirage. Hard plastic surfaces make up the dash and although the interior isn’t anything to write home about, it’s functional. Think economy car.

One of the smallest five-door hatchbacks sold in the U.S., the is a combo of minicar and subcompact class. While much larger than a Fortwo, the Mirage actually does have backseat space that fits two adults, and cargo when lowered.

Looks aren’t everything and the Mirage isn’t a handsome offering. However, it’s a little cute box that functions as needed, offers great fuel economy and gets you most places. Styling changes for 2017 include a new front and rear bumper, lower-body treatment and updated grille. Headlights have been changed, as have foglamps and the new 14-and 15-inch alloy wheels and new rear spoiler are a redesign.

The Mirage is offered in ES, SE and GT trim levels. Our base ES included A/C, keyless entry, steel wheels and four-speaker, 140-watt sound system. Bluetooth compatibility is optional on the base model. If consumers opt upwards, they can have a new infotainment system display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, alloy wheels, automatic climate control, rearview camera, cruise, steering wheel audio controls and push-button start. Our test car did have the back-up camera.

Safety has been a bit of a shortcoming of the Mirage, with its ‘poor’ rating in the small overlap frontal test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) particularly worrisome. The Mirage’s safety set includes seven airbags—driver and passenger front and side bags, side-curtain bags over the front and rear windows, plus a knee airbag for the driver. And while the Mirage is very inexpensive, it still includes stability control, traction control, and all the typical anti-lock braking systems.

Hill assist is also a standard feature on the Mirage, power windows and push start. ABS, tire pressure monitoring system and side curtain airbags.
There were no options on our test Mirage ES, and final vehicle pricing was $15,630. Pretty decent in this time of high auto prices.


MSRP: $14,795; total vehicle price $15,630, destination $835
Engine: 1.2-liter, MIVEC DOHC 12-valve, 3-cylinder, 78 hp., 74 ft.-lb. torque
Transmission: 5-speed manual, FWD
Wheelbase: 96.5 in.
Length: 149.4 in.
Width: 65.6 in.
Height: 59.4 in.
Curb weight: 2,040 lbs.
EPA fuel economy: 41/36 mpg.
Hatchback, Sub-compact
Wheels: aluminum alloy 14-inch
Fuel tank capacity: 9.2 gal.
Warranty: 10 yrs/100,000-mile powertrain; 7 yrs/100,000-mile anti-corrosion; 5 yrs/60,000-mile new vehicle limited; 5 yrs/unlimited roadside assistance

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