The Mitsubishi Mirage has been around since 1978, an eternity in automotive years. This little car has traveled a long way in the past 43 years. Indeed, the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage offers abundant standard features, including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and automatic emergency braking. Plus, you can get the latest Mirage with a 10-year warranty for the price of a good used car, the experts at Car and Driver report.
But they also consider the Mirage a slow, unrefined subcompact that’s built like a tin can. So, how bad is it?
The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage at a glance
For the 2021 model year, the Mitsubishi Mirage got what amounts to cosmetic updates that didn’t deal with the issues reviewers and industry experts have had with the car for some time.
The Mirage got a new grille and squared-off bumper corners at the tail, along with L-shaped lights that stretch across the back. Mitsubishi says the updates give the Mirage a wider profile and the appearance of stability.
Between the front and back ends, there weren’t a lot of other changes. The Mirage is available as a G4 sedan and as a hatchback. Both models sit on new 15-inch wheels.
On the inside, the Mirage sports a new meter panel for drivers into numbers, new armrests for couch potatoes, and a carbon window switch panel because that would appear to be a priority. There’s a new seat design for higher trims with synthetic leather.
But the Mirage still has an underwhelming 1.2-liter, three-cylinder engine. It gets a paltry 78 hp, and it’s expected to keep the standard five-speed manual transmission, with an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) available.
The 2021 Mirage starts at $14,900 for the ES hatchback, which competes with many high-quality pre-owned cars. It’s disappointing still because Mitsubishi had a chance to make significant improvements, but it stuck to the superficial.
What reviewers are saying
Reviews haven’t been glowing. The team at Car and Driver has had plenty to say about Mitsubishi Mirage models over the past few years.
In March 2014, the publication’s Tony Quiroga explained that the Mirage was amusing. He compared it to the old Commodore 64 home computers of the early ’80s. In May of the same year, John Pearley Huffman said the Mirage aspired to nothing. Calling it “cruelty on wheels,” he described the car as a “Bangkok hack” dressed up for middle classes in emerging economies. He concluded the “Third World deserves better.”
In August 2016, Kevin A. Wilson explained the Mirage “lacked oomph,” which could be a problem on the road. He recalled that he and other Car and Driver experts were sitting in their tester Mirage at a traffic signal. When the light turned green, a landscaper’s diesel pickup truck — pulling a tractor atop a flatbed — blew them away.
Apparently, expert reviewers aren’t the only ones who find fault with the Mirage. According to GoodCarBadCar, the car’s 2020 sales were the lowest they’ve been since 2014.
Will Mitsubishi discontinue it?
Mitsubishi hasn’t announced plans to retire the Mirage. Considering that competing brands recently discontinued the similar Chevy Sonic and Honda Fit, you might wonder why the Mirage is still kicking. Could it be because it’s been around since the ’70s?
Despite this subcompact’s shortcomings, it has a few attractive qualities. Smaller families might appreciate that it offers plenty of storage space and gets great gas mileage. The Mirage actually has one of the best fuel-economy ratings in the segment. With an automatic transmission, it gets an EPA-estimated 36 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway.
Maneuverability is another consideration. The Mirage‘s size makes it easy to park and easy to navigate traffic if acceleration isn’t an issue. Its steering is also accurate, which helps immensely.
For those who want a new car but have a limited budget, the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage might offer a viable solution. Just do your homework before you buy.