Ask Nathan: A Fun and Cheap 4×4 EV, Rio vs Mirage, and Something Other Than a Jeep Project?

In this week’s (special) Ask Nathan:

  • Can we get a cheap 4×4 EV?
  • Kia Rio vs Mitsubishi Mirage?
  • I want a 4×4 project, but not a Jeep!

The first question comes from a fan who wants a cheap 4×4 EV to come to our market.

Image: SGMW

Q: (Via: NathanAdlen@Twitter) Can someone please tell me why we can’t have an affordable or cheap 4×4 EV in the USA?

Right now there’s nothing in any showroom that could possibly constitute a cheap 4×4 EV here. Why is that so? Why can’t we be more like other countries that cut through the red tape and give the people what they want! I want a little 4×4 that I can plug in at home that can replace my Nissan Leaf. NO! I DON’T WANT TOP SPEND $45,000 ON A NISSAN ARYIA! And I DON’T WANT TO SPEND OVER $100,000 ON A HUMMER EV!

Why is it, when the U.S. government is trying to get us behind the wheel of EVs that they become ridiculous in price!? The cheapest car that’s electric in our market is the Bolt. And guess what? It’s going away. There is nothing out there for people like me who are on a fixed income and can’t afford a car over $30,000!

It looks like people over seas have way better choices Nathan. I know I know, they have less restrictive regulations. But that is becoming less of an issue. Honestly, I would be happy to take my chances in a vehicle that has mediocre safety numbers if it’s half the price! All I wanna do is go on some nice back roads near my place. Good places to take my dogs and get away.

Why can’t I do that in a $15,000 cheap 4×4 EV? Simple. Car makers want to rake us over the coals and force us to buy something way out of our budget! Nathan, am I crazy?

– B. Buck

Image: SGMW

A: No, you’re not crazy.

There are a few things to chew on here. The image you sent me was cool, but it is the Baojun Yep, which is a super cheap vehicle, but it’s not a 4×4. In China, the Baojun Yep goes for $10,000 – $13,000. SGMW (SAIC-GM-Wuling) builds the tiny crossover, and they added a ton of cool kit. Equipped with a single-motor rear-wheel-drive powertrain, the motor rated at 50 kilowatts (which is 67 horsepower). Armed with a 28.1-kilowatt-hour battery pack, that little electric motor makes 103 pound-feet of torque. According to SGMW, the top speed is limited to 100 km/h, which is 62 mph.

It has a range of about 300+ kilometers, but that’s how it’s measured in China. Given its size and

The Baojun Yep is only 133.1-inches in length, which is a full 30-inches shorter than a Chevy Bolt. Despite this, it has room for four, a front-trunk “frunk” and what appears to be excellent sight lines. Rear seats folded, it has a 25.2 cubic foot cargo space. In addition, it has tons of modern tech, including an odd watch-band-like component on the rear door that can display images to other drivers. Like a giant Apple Watch.

While GM is one of the backers of SGMW, I sincerely doubt they will bring one here, especially as a 4×4. Adding four-wheel drive means extra weight and drag from an additional electric motor. Additional weight (and the desire for greater range) would necessitate a beefier battery. All this would make for a heavy, less efficient, more expensive vehicle.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Still, I think you have a point about EVs being so pricy. Why can’t we have something like this in the United States? Something fun and cheeky, that can get us to work – without killing our savings. I know for a fact that we were supposed to be at a point where building EVs is cheaper than gas vehicles. It’s not yet, and a lot of that has to to with precious metals used in batteries.

Still, I know we can do better for our consumers.

  • N

The video is kind of fun.

The next question comes from a fan who is comparing the Mitsubishi Mirage, to the Kia Rio – two of the least expensive cars sold in the U.S.A.

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage

Q: (Via: What’s the haps big boy?

I am qualified to buy a cheap car through my bank and business. I’ve narrowed it down to the Kia Rio and Mitsubishi Mirage. I have linked both builds. Both have a few options and come in under $19,000. For what my business and I need these are the best candidates. I’m to a car guy but I watch some of your videos for fun. I know you’re the value guy and you came from a background where you might appreciate inexpensive cars.

Which one would you get?

– Gabby Gore

2023 Kia Rio
2023 Rio

A: This is a good question, but there’s only one choice.

While the Mitsubishi Mirage has a few things going for it (small size, easy to park) the Kia Rio is vastly superior in almost every measurable way. Simply put, the performance, efficiency, comfort and even the build quality is superior on the Kia. In addition, there are more trims to get with the Kia, and it is competitively priced.

I don’t hate the Mitsubishi Mirage, but it’s simply not as good as the Kia.  

– N


Image: Isuzu Motors

The final question comes from a friend of mine who is thinking about doing a DIY build (his first) on a 4×4, but not a Jeep. This conversation happened over a year ago BTW..

Q: (Paraphrased question) I want to do a build on a 4×4 that’s fun and unique.

Simply put: I don’t want a Jeep product, but I also want it to be fairly cheap. I kid of like unique cars, but not so unique as to make parts difficult to get.

  • C.C.

A: You, my friend, are in luck!

Thanks to a recent video I did, I was reminded about how cool and capable Isuzu products were. While some are a bit rare, like the VehiCross featured below, others are fairly easy to work with. I might recommend the Isuzu Trooper. Given your need for something easy to work on, that’s not too expensive, the Trooper, and Trooper II are cool choices.

I love the parts Calmini builds for Isuzus – and they didn’t pay me to say that. I’ve seen their work in person, and it’s impressive. Lots of good stuff for the Isuzu brand.

Want an even easier vehicle to find parts for? The Isuzu Rodeo was one of their best sellers, and a ton of them are still out there!

– N