Review: There’s A Seriously Good Case For The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage
You may completely dismiss the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage, but…I don’t think that’s really fair. (Images: Mitsubishi Cars)
Low, low entry-priceX Yeah, it can be a bit tinny…
Exceptional fuel economyX You don’t get all the most advanced features
More practical than you might thinkX Depreciation hurts (but not as badly with the low purchase price)
The warranty and roadside coverage add
more to the Mirage’s value

Not many folks take the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage seriously.

A bit of context: I just drove a (rented) base model ES with a CVT, priced at $16,590. Like so many, I could go after the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage and rip it for being cheap and gutless. That’s what a lot do. Not only does it catch a bad reputation for its very existence, but even my forgiving wife hated this rental. Hell, I get glazed looks and sneers for simply appreciating Mitsubishi’s value proposition of their vehicles from my fellow journalists.

Fine, I get it. What everyone seems to forget, or ignore, is how good this little car is at doing what it’s supposed to do — save drachma ($$$).

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2021 Mitsubishi Mirage — A quick features and price overview

Take a look at what you get with the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage for the money. A forward collision mitigation system with pedestrian protection comes standard on all Mirage models. So does Apple CarPlay with Android Auto, and a 7.0-inch display. That comes on the lowest of the low, $15,290 base model ES with a manual transmission. Let’s not forget you can also still get a manual transmission — at least on the base version. Things like lane-departure warning, automatic high beams and LED headlights are standard on the top-end SE trim for $18,715, including destination.

Keep in mind, with the crazy state of the new car market right now, you can still at least find new Mitsubishi Mirages to buy. More often than not, you can also still get at least a small discount to get into one.

If there is one upgrade I would suggest, it would be the $595 Rockford Fosgate premium audio system. Yes, you can get that even on the simple-as-can-be ES. It gives you a 300-watt stereo that can satisfy on your daily commute. I’m a music lover, and I’d be willing to pay for the upgrade after sampling the base audio system — if only to more effectively keep the voices out of my head.

For a more comprehensive look at the 2021 model year updates, check out our article from earlier in the year.

The REAL ‘performance’ of the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage

Yes, the 1.2-liter three-cylinder only makes a miserly 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. It’s certainly no sports car, especially when paired with the continuously variable transmission. We showed how slow it is under a full load. Hint: It’s S.L.O.W. Still, the car only weighs about 2,100 pounds, and it’s extremely maneuverable thanks to its small stature. It might be the easiest car to park, and it has a useful 47 cubic feet of available cargo space.

Of course, here I’m referring to the hatchback, not the Mirage G4 sedan. Not only is the hatchback less expensive and more fuel efficient, for some reason, but it’s also more utilitarian.

It will cruise at 75 mph on Interstate highways all day long. There’s just one caveat to that, particularly here in Colorado — steep hills. If you go up a hill in the Rockies driving this car, prepare to draft a RV in the slow lane to make it up. Driving at high elevation means serious power loss, and that is admittedly a problem when you don’t have much power to begin with.

But, there are certainly areas where the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage does perform well. It is, by a fair margin, the least expensive car for sale in the United States. The Versa is available for $15,955, but at this price point $700 can make a difference. The Mirage also comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Even for the bargain basement price, you get 5-year/unlimited-mileage roadside coverage.

On top of that, the little car is the most efficient non-hybrid car for sale in the United States.

When properly equipped, the Mirage gets 36 City/43 Highway/39 Combined MPG. It holds a little over nine gallons in its and runs on regular, inexpensive gasoline. Bearing in mind how gas prices are trending, and your ability to actually use regular fuel is a major plus. Better still, despite the low power and my heavy accelerator foot, I still managed around 38 MPG.

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage

Interior comfort: I fit…and I’m not small.

Sure, the seats in the 2021 Mitsubiahi Mirage are small, and it’s not a big car. But, a gorilla like me can fit in the driver’s seat and be comfortable on my 45-mile commute. It’s a bit tinny, and you will hear as well as feel vibrations at higher speeds. That’s another reason I suggest the Rockford Fosgate audio system.

My kids, who are as tall as your average adults, will fit behind me. It’s a tight squeeze to get a third person in the back, but there is a center seatbelt. Three small, skinny people should fit, but I feel that only two average-sized people in the back are a good idea. If you watch the video below, you’ll get my meaning.

A public proposal to Mitsubishi on the Mirage

I’ve sent this to them before, but to date my request has gone unanswered. As such, I’m appealing to you folks in the TFL community to chime in and see if Mitsubishi Motors’ U.S. division (MMUSA) hears you. In the past, I’ve asked for a Mirage to do a long road-trip for less than $300 in fuel.

This time around, I’d propose a Mirage cross-country round-trip from Los Angeles to Orlando and back for less than $500 in gasoline. That’s what I think this little car can do. You could make an interesting argument too that, at least until entry-level electric cars reach price parity with cheap gasoline cars, this is a solid choice to hold you over for the next few years.

Sure, you can also argue that some flights would cost that same amount, if not actually ring in a bit cheaper. – Add a rental or ridesharing and checked luggage fees into the mix, though, and that picture change. On top of that, camping in the little car (which is doable, if not comfortable) will save you a fortune in hotel costs.

At any rate, let me know your thoughts on whether you’d be interested in that sort of run below. Your voice amplifies these sorts of pitches in the manufacturers’ eyes.

Reaching a verdict

Way back, when I was a high school kid in Los Angeles, I had a friend who’s father bought a brand new Hyundai Excel. Sure, we all had a laugh. But once I thought about the poverty from which he came, and the joy of buying his first new car, I changed my tune. Ironically, that little car outlasted many others — and it was powered by a Mitsubishi engine.

Sometimes, we forget the meaning of what new car ownership can do for certain folks. We forget how rewarding something simple, basic and affordable can be. That’s where cars like the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage, for all the jests, are still relevant.

With that in mind, check out this bit of fluff between the two least expensive vehicles in their class. We pitch the Mirage and an all-electric Mini Cooper SE, currently the cheapest EV you can buy.