5 Reasons You Should Consider This Overlooked Japanese Hatchback as a First Car
With tearful eyes, many waved goodbye to the Mitsubishi Mirage as the Japanese automaker pulled all non-SUV offerings from the United States. It’s a shame, as the only contemporary fit-for-purpose people’s car, it was quietly confident as nothing more than what was in the eye of its beholder. Luckily, plenty of them are buzzing around on the second-hand market. This gives new car owners (the owners, not the cars themselves) a chance to pick up the most overlooked Japanese hatchback.
What is a Mitsubishi Mirage?
The Mirage is Mitsubishi’s smallest, cheapest Japanese hatchback, but it also has a subcompact sedan variant in the G4. It’s lauded for its excellent fuel efficiency, affordability, and extended warranty, which make it an attractive choice for budget-conscious buyers. However, it’s often critiqued, sometimes too harshly, for its relatively low power, basic interior, and lackluster driving dynamics.
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Everyone seems to believe drivers should jump out of their swollen wheel arches Mercedes crossover or testosterone-turned-TRX Ram pickup truck into this cheap Japanese hatchback. But it isn’t a car for the Joneses. No, it’s for the discerning first-time car owner—or car ownership after a long voluntary or involuntary hiatus.
1. The Mitsubishi Mirage is a cure for the bus stop blues
If you’re paying $1.50 a ride and relegated to doom scrolling, those hard plastic seats can quickly become uncomfortable. You think to fold your jacket as a pillow, but when you’re in the boss’s office later, you have nothing but foreign stains to explain. The Mirage may not have premium leather or the most supportive cloth seats, but you won’t have to give it up when an elder is looking for a place to sit. You can even offer them a ride to bingo.
Conversely, if you’re a pensioner with a Mitsubishi Mirage, you won’t have to take a ride from that strange man you met on the bus. After all, he couldn’t stop talking about the aftermarket potential of the three-cylinder grower-not-a-shower 3A92 powerplant.
2. A cheap Japanese hatchback more efficient than a bicycle
People seem to think cycling to work is free—it isn’t. Think about all those special clothes you have to buy and brightly-colored hats you then keep in the office to let people know. Neoprene is pricey stuff, especially when you have to install panniers on the back of your bike to carry all that biker swag. Custom carbon fork or not, your two-wheel ride does not match Mirage’s efficiency.
Harvard University says a 155-pound person riding a bicycle at 12 mph will burn roughly 576 calories per hour. To replenish that, it will take approximately two medium-sized avocados at $1.62 per unit, according to the most recent Hass Avocado Board retail sales figures. Consequently, biking is roughly $0.27 per mile in avocados, with or without the toast.
Fortunately, the Mitsubishi Mirage is much kinder to the environment. The American Automotive Association reports that as of May 22, 2023, nationwide average fuel prices are sitting at $3.54 per gallon for 87-octane pump gas. Given the Mirage’s EPA-rated 39 combined mpg, driving to work is just $0.09 per mile in the Japanese hatchback. And with the NHTSA’s (National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration) four-star crash safety rating, it’s a lot safer than your Cannondale.
3. Better than walking
Let’s be honest; you’re not going to take the savings you have from not buying a Mitsubishi Mirage and carry it around in your pockets. You’ll buy a plane ticket to Bali and spend it all on starting a niche travel vlog, even though you’ll end up like the other unlicensed travel guides.
Yes, the 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage—the best of the bunch—is still hovering around even though the brand isn’t selling them stateside anymore. So maybe it would be better to blast off to Bali. There could be a Mirage waiting for you there.
That’s the kicker. People seem to think that since Mitsubishi isn’t selling its loveable little compact Japanese hatchback and G4 sedan in America anymore, all the Mitsubishi dealerships somehow forgot how to work on them. Fortunately, if you break it—which you will—it’s cheap to fix. With a $457 average annual repair cost, according to RepairPal, it’s hard to find a car more charitable to its owner. And there’s no need to worry about significant repairs until after its industry-leading 10-year warranty runs out.
4. Cheaper than your Uber driver’s Japanese hatchback
Ride-sharing isn’t as cheap as it once was. As prices have skyrocketed, it’s time to rethink the monthly insurance costs of a small, economical Japanese hatchback. Insuraviz asserts that the 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage monthly premiums are between $149 and $155, depending on the trim level. Yes, rates for high-risk drivers in their 30s are almost double, but it still beats out the cost of driving a used 7 Series just because you think it looks cool—it doesn’t; it just looks unnecessarily expensive.
But so is app-based transportation. While there isn’t an official number, many claim that ride-sharing costs between $1 and $2 per mile. Even with a high-risk driver and the range-topping Mirage that began barely above the $20,000 mark, the more you drive, the less it’ll cost you.
5. The Mitsubishi Mirage is a car you never have to sell
What’s the resale value of this Japanese hatchback? Who cares?
Whatever Mirage you buy, it doesn’t matter how much it’s worth after you buy it because it’ll be less. In fact, with current depreciation, buying a brand-new 2022 model over the 2023 model will have potential buyers almost $2,000, Edmunds indicated. That’s not to say the Mirage is bad, though. The cheap Japanese hatchback is positively fast and luxurious if you have an eccentric perspective, at least.
Regardless, the Mitsubishi Mirage isn’t a car that’s worth worrying about the resale value. With a starting MSRP so low, it’s a better value to keep it until it dies. And think of how freeing that is—not to have any attachment to the resale value of your car.
How much is a Mitsubishi Mirage?
Mitsubishi markets a brand-new 2023 Mirage hatchback at $16,495. With four trim levels to choose from—ES, LE, BE, and SE—each is spartan but not lacking. For instance, the top-tier SE has heated front seats, lane departure warning, and a push-button start. With a starting MSRP of $18,145, there’s no guilt in speccing up the Japanese hatchback.
Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, budget-minded buyers can opt for a 2022 model if they can find one of dealer lots. It’s an easy way to save nearly $2,000, which you can put towards the cost of that annual insurance premium you feared.