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In terms of base cars, it doesn’t get more basic than the Chevy Spark and the Mitsubishi Mirage. Two bare-bones hatchbacks geared towards the penny pinchers. You don’t buy one because it’s stylish, or even safe. You buy it because it’s cheap. But which of these budget cars is the best value?

Mitsubishi Mirage (Top) and Chevy Spark (Bottom) best value
Mitsubishi Mirage (Top) and Chevy Spark (Bottom) | Mitsubishi/Chevy

The specs of the Spark and the Mirage

If you’re one of the few Americans that can drive a stick, you’re in luck! Manual transmissions are available in both the Chevy Spark and the Mitsubishi Mirage. That said, if you have to have an automatic, it’ll cost you around $2,000 more. The Spark has a 1.4L four-cylinder EcoTech engine, whereas the Mirage has a 1.2L three-cylinder engine. And each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.

The Spark has 98 horsepower, 20 more than the Mirage. But in terms of fuel economy, Mitsubishi has Chevy beat. The Mirage is capable of 36 city/43 highway, stomping on the Sparks 29/38 fuel economy. On top of that, the Mirage’s gas tank is .2 gallons larger than the Spark’s, meaning it’ll go further, but not faster.

With the seats up, the Mirage has 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space in comparison to the Chevy’s 11.1 cubic feet. And with the seats down, the Mirage beats out the Spark again, it’s 47 cubic feet dominating the 27 cubic feet available in the Spark.

So the Spark is striking out against its Japanese competitor, but maybe it’ll regain some traction when we look at the features included in these base models.

The features in these budget hatchbacks

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Interior with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Interior | Mitsubishi

When building a Mirage on Mitubishi’s website, you’ll be pleased to know that the Mirage comes with an included “welcome package.” All it adds are welcome mats, a $145 value, while the Spark only offers them as a $215 option. One might see this as a good thing, allowing you to shave more money off the base price by not optioning them in, but if you want welcome mats as standard then the Mirage is the way to go.

But most people won’t worry about whether or not their budget car has floor mats. It’s the entertainment system and technology that are crucial in day-to-day life. Both cars come with Bluetooth capabilities, and they each have a 7″ infotainment screen. And they can both support Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, but that doesn’t come standard with the base model. In other words, you’re not getting a lot from either car.

They don’t come with power seats or windows, the AC is minimal, and you’ll get a 12-volt cigarette lighter and a USB or two. So they’re tied for tech, but the Mitsubishi is a bit roomier. So that begs the question:

Which is right for you?

Mitsubishi Mirage (Top) and Chevy Spark (Bottom) best value
Mitsubishi Mirage (Top) and Chevy Spark (Bottom) | Mitsubishi/Chevy

The 2021 Chevy Spark Is The Cheapest New Car But Is It The Best Value?

Other than overall power, the Chevy Spark has one more key advantage: price. With the base model stick shift, all you’ll have to pay is $14,095, making it one of the cheapest cars in the USA today. The Mitsubishi Mirage, on the other hand, will run you $15,565, even with the manual transmision. That extra price does come with some perks, but really it’s up to how much car you want.

In terms of budget cars, you can’t get any more basic than the Spark and the Mirage. And while the Spark has more power and, presumably, smoother handling at a better price, the Mirage is a bit more practical, even if the engine lacks any power. So if you’re willing to give up cargo space just to save some cash, the Spark is the way to go. But for added convenience, the Mirage is the best value.