2020 Mitsubishi Mirage

By May 4, 2020

The subcompact 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage is for drivers who want the lowest-priced new car they can find. It offers great fuel economy, rock-bottom pricing, and a strong warranty.

The 2020 Mirage is largely unchanged from prior years. Automatic climate control is newly standard on every model, and sedans get a new LE trim and front grille design.

The Mirage remains available as either a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, with the 5-door being the cheaper of the two. Both body styles start at under $15,000 before destination charges.

Every Mirage gets the same 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine that makes 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque, making this Mitsubishi one of the few new cars that can’t crest the 100-hp power barrier. That meager power is routed through a standard 5-speed manual or an optional continuously variable transmission. All Mirages are front-wheel drive.

The limited power won’t win any races, but it does offer excellent fuel economy: with the available CVT, the Mirage hatchback is rated at 36 mpg city, 43 highway, 39 combined. A CVT-equipped sedan will return 35/41/37 mpg.

Manual Mirages aren’t quite as efficient as the CVT models, with the hatch being rated for 33/41/36 mpg and the sedan at 33/40/35 mpg.

The Mirage has no automatic emergency braking. The IIHS has rated the Mirage their highest award of “good” in most of their crash-test categories, while the NHTSA awards it a four-star overall rating.

Every Mirage comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty.

Model Lineup

All prices include a $995 destination charge.

The base ES ($14,990 hatchback, $15,990 sedan) opens the lineup. It’s the only model that comes with the 5-speed manual. Other standard features include automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch infotainment display, remote keyless entry, and cruise control.

The LE ($17,190 hatchback, $18,190 sedan) is next up and adds the CVT, 15-inch black alloy wheels, heated front seats, and a driver seat armrest. The infotainment screen is reduced to 6.5 inches but adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

From there, the SE trim ($17,540 hatchback, $18,740 sedan) piles on a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 14-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, and keyless start.

The hatchback-only GT ($18,290) is the top of the line Mirage and adds two-tone alloy wheels and HID headlights.

Exterior

When a car has a starting price under $15,000, styling isn’t highly prioritized. The Mirage’s looks are a good example. There’s nothing to note about the generic hatchback body, though there’s not much offensive about it either. Practicality dictated its lines and shapes, with passenger and fuel efficiency more important than style.

If there’s anything more to be said about the Mirage’s design, it’s that the hatchback looks better than the tall, frumpy sedan. The four-door has strange proportions—necessary for decent interior space in a car this small—from its tall roof and awkward-looking rump. Like the hatch, the car rides on 14-inch wheels that look small. The result is a jarring sense of disproportion that doesn’t afflict the more balanced-looking hatchback.

Interior

The Mirage’s interior is built to a clear price target, and it can be loud when the engine is under the gun.

Front seats are comfortable, and multi-way manual adjustment even on the base model means most drivers should find an agreeable seating position. The second row isn’t quite as generous, with a hard and flat seat cushion.

In hatchback form, there’s a fair amount of cargo space for such a small car: 17.2 cubic feet is available behind the back seat, and 47 cubic feet becomes with the second row folded down. For perspective, that’s nearly as much space as the 173-inch long Chevy Spark, but from a car that measures two feet shorter.

Sedans aren’t nearly as practical, with just 12 cubic feet of trunk space and no split-folding rear seats.

Move out of the ES trim and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto becomes standard. It’s a nice feature to see in a car priced this low, and further democratizes the spread of smartphone compatibility.

Driving Impressions

With all of 78 horsepower, the Mirage is about as slow as it gets in 2020. The 0-60 mph run is a 12-second affair, and any additional speed will be acquired in small increments. Steep grades and passing maneuvers are strenuous affairs as drivers feel and hear the little 3-cylinder engine working hard.

The base transmission is a 5-speed manual, but it isn’t much fun to run through the gears, with long throws and a ropey feel. But it might be better than the pricier CVT, which gets better gas mileage but pushes the engine to drone loudly.

Handling leaves much to be desired as well. Light steering and a jouncy suspension hinder cornering abilities. There’s no joy in flicking around the Mirage on a twisty road. Its turning radius is good, though.

Final Word

The 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage is a reminder of how subcompact cars used to be, slow and inexpensive. It has a good warranty, a low price, and great fuel economy. Buy either the ES or LE for the maximum value.

 

—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

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