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Even as fuel prices tumble, getting the most fuel-efficient car you can is still a good decision. Today, efficiency charts are littered with hybrid cars, but there are several great non-hybrid cars with excellent fuel efficiency as well. The Mitsubishi Mirage isn’t one of them. Sure, it’s one of the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car of 2023. But experts agree, it’s hard to find much else to love about the smallest Mitsubishi car.

Two 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage models, including the sedan which is one of the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid cars of 2023.
Two 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage Models | Mitsubishi

The Mitsubishi Mirage is tied for the most-fuel efficient non-hybrid in 2023

Before diving into all of the negatives about the new Mirage, let’s start with the positives. Along with the Hyundai Elantra, the 2023 Mirage is the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car of 2023. At an EPA-estimated 43 mpg highway and 36 mpg city, it is in a virtual tie with the Hyundai compact. As a city runabout, that’s a great number. And considering the sub-$20,000 price tag, it’s a good value for someone who just needs to get around on a budget.

In addition, the Mirage comes with Mitsubishi’s 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty. That’s also tied with Hyundai for the best in the industry, which is worth some extra peace of mind if nothing else.

Finally, the Mirage does come with the tech you’d expect. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the seven-inch infotainment display. There’s even a Rockford Fosgate audio package available as an upgrade.

Why experts hate the new Mitsubishi Mirage

There aren’t enough good, cheap cars on the market today. Despite its price tag, though, the Mirage can’t be counted among that list. Cheap? Yes. But good? Not at all. In a Car and Driver review of the new Mirage, words like “pokey”, “minuscule”, and “lackluster” are among the highlights.

MotorTrend doesn’t say much better, describing the Mirage as “coarse, loud, and underpowered.”

With just 78 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque from an anemic, 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine, it’s no wonder. Even at just 2,000 pounds, it takes the Mirage a full 11 seconds to get to 60 mph. Somehow, it tops out at 105 mph, though I’m not sure anyone alive today has enough time to get it there.

Fair enough, considering the fuel mileage, right?  But the most-efficient non-hybrid is rivaled by the Hyundai Elantra. At 33 mpg city and 42 mpg highway, it’s also a fuel-sipping compact. But that car also offers 147 horsepower and gets to 60 in a shade over eight seconds.

The one plus point of the previous Mirage was its manual transmission. Regrettably, that, too, is gone for 2023. Now, a languid CVT sends that piddly engine power to the front wheels, accentuating what was already a disconsolate drive.

If you’re stepping into a Mitsubishi Mirage hoping for a happy surprise, don’t.

The interior is every bit as tepid as can be expected based on everything else. In my drive of a Mirage in 2022, I found the seats to be hard, unsupportive, and downright harsh. The footwells are narrow enough that, if you’re of reasonable height, your legs are in constant battle with the steering wheel.

I can forgive cheap plastics and a simple design. But making a car so legitimately uncomfortable that it causes physical pain is a bridge too far.

Is there anything to love about the Mirage?

2023 Mitsubishi Mirage sedan
Mitsubishi Mirage Sedan| Mitsubishi

Much like its name, joy is also a Mirage in the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car of 2023. However, the 17 cubic feet of cargo space is impressive given this car’s overall size. That said, I would readily trade a cubic foot of room for some more space up front.

In contrast, today, Mitsubishi makes excellent SUVs in the Outlander family of models. But it’s far from its heyday as a compact car powerhouse. Right now, the Mirage exists as a placeholder for environmental regulations. As such, it doesn’t have much to offer beyond fuel economy and a bargain-basement price tag.

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