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A New Look Isn’t Enough to Fix the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage’s Tired Engine

Mitsubishi was once a very reliable brand. One of its subcompact cars, the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage, is coming soon with a fresh new look. It’s part of the automaker’s effort to reinvent its brand in the U.S. Will the new look be enough to draw buyers back to the Mirage with its tired, weak engine? Does it offer any other compelling new features to justify giving it a try?

A not-so-spotless reputation

Once considered a reliable brand, in recent years, Mitsubishi has garnered a reputation for new cars that are cheaply-made and deficient. Recently, Forbes published a list of 10 New Cars to Avoid and Mitsubishi made the list with the new Mirage.

Forbes explained that they found little to enjoy about the subcompact car aside from the reasonable price. They called it noisy, slow, and unrefined when compared to the rest of its class. Citing below-average scores on both initial quality and reliability from J.D. Power and the lowest rank in its class from Consumer Reports, the team at Forbes recommended giving the new Mirage a pass.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage ranked low on the U.S. News list of 10 Best Subcompact Cars for 2020. They explained that its few good qualities were greatly outweighed by many problems. They found it had a bouncy ride, low-quality cabin materials, and poor reliability ratings.

A new look

RELATED: The 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Is the Worst Small Car You Should Never Buy

In a shrinking subcompact car segment, options are fading fast. Other automakers are eliminating small car offerings like Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris. Sure, most want bigger, upscale SUVs and trucks for their day-to-day driving needs. Even so, there are still buyers looking for affordable, reliable small cars that get great gas mileage.

The Mitsubishi Mirage has gotten a new face for the 2021 model year. Mirage’s appearance is more aggressive with a new front bumper, re-imagined headlights, and the same front grille seen on both the Eclipse Cross and Outlander.

It’s back as both a hatchback and sedan or the G4. While MotorTrend notes that there weren’t a lot of details given by the automaker on U.S. models, the Canadian division of Mitsubishi knew a few things. 

According to the Canadian division, the updated Mirage will have a bigger 7-inch touchscreen for its infotainment system. The new Mirage will feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. It will also have LED headlights and taillights though those are expected to be included only with higher trim levels. 

There were also mentions of a new safety kit with extra safety features. Auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, auto high-beam headlights, and a lane-departure alert system were all mentioned.

The Mitsubishi Mirage’s same exhausted engine

One thing that’s not changing? The Mitsubishi Mirage still has the same tired 1.2-liter naturally-aspirated three-cylinder engine that gets only 78 hp as its sole powertrain. It’s expected but not confirmed that it will also keep the same transmissions: a five-speed manual and an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT).

While it’s not the most athletic engine in its class by any stretch of the imagination, it does do rather well on fuel efficiency with 36/43 mpg city/highway. It’s near the top of its class as far as fuel-efficiency goes for a non-hybrid car. The 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty are also nice perks.

Gas mileage and warranties aside, the engine is outdated and weak. If you just need a car to go back and forth within your neighborhood or to take you to town for errands, it will work. If you drive on the highway at all, you’ll need more than 78 hp. For that, 150 to 300 hp would be better.

The new Mitsubishi Mirage is expected to go on sale in early 2021. The price is expected to rise slightly, but even so, it will remain one of the most affordable cars on the market.