The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage subcompact hatchback combines subtle restyling, more power, more features and gas-sipping performance in an economical package.
The base, five-door Mirage hatchback comes with standard power windows, door locks and outside mirrors, air conditioning, keyless entry, electronic stability control, traction control and seven air bags. It's also a fuel economy leader, with city/highway mileage ratings of up to 39 miles per gallon.
Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including delivery charge, for a base 2017 Mirage ES with five-speed manual transmission is $13,830. For an ES with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that a driver operates like an automatic, it costs $15,030.
Mitsubishi's lowest-priced vehicle, the Mirage comes with long-running warranty coverage that rivals that of Hyundai and Kia — five years or 60,000 miles of limited vehicle warranty coverage, 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage and five years or unlimited miles of roadside assistance.
Compare that to one of the Mirage's competitors, the 2016 Chevrolet Spark hatchback, which, while it undercuts the Mirage base price by $295 and includes a standard rearview camera that the Mirage does not, comes with three years or 36,000 miles of limited vehicle warranty coverage and five years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage.
The Mirage, with its restyled hood and bumpers, looks more mature than the Spark and some other little hatchbacks. It's still diminutive — 12.5 feet long from bumper to bumper and lightweight at around 2,100 pounds.
The interior of the test vehicle, a top-of-the-line GT model, had the new-for-2017 gauge cluster that was easy to read, glossy, piano-black interior accents, a new steering wheel and upgraded upholstery. It also had a rearview camera and built-in compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that allows drivers to use their smartphones to easily access their music, answer phone calls, check on traffic and other things.
There are reminders that the Mirage is inexpensive. The cargo floor cover is a thin, cheap-feeling material, doors close with a tinny sound and strong winds can buffet the car. Wind and road noise can be heard in the interior.
However, it is amazingly easy to park and fits into tiny spaces, and it is easy to get more than 31 mpg driving this car, even if the travel is all in the city.
The test vehicle averaged 34 mpg in city/highway travel without the driver trying to save gas. This compared with federal government ratings of 37 mpg in city driving and 43 mpg on highways. The Mirage fuel tank holds 9.2 gallons, so the test vehicle's travel range was only 312 miles.
The CVT in the test car droned a lot whenever the driver demanded acceleration, and the car got up to speed at a mostly leisurely pace. With its 1.2-liter, double overhead cam, three-cylinder, gasoline engine now developing a bit more horsepower — 78 compared with 74 in the 2015 Mirage — and peak torque of just 74 foot-pounds by 4,000 rpm, this car is a steady, not zippy, traveler.
Handling is improved slightly this year, thanks to a stiffer front suspension, revised spring rates and adjusted shock absorbers. But the Mirage doesn't give the impression that it hews close to the pavement as much as it rides above it on small rubber tires. Overall, the ride was a bit firm, with passengers feeling road bumps mostly as vibrations and occasional jolts.
Cargo room is a generous 47 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down and 17.2 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks upright. The back seat is typical of this class; it works best when holding no more than two people. Legroom remains at 34 inches. Headroom is decent at 39.1 inches in the front seats and 37.3 inches in the back seat.