After years as one of America’s cheapest cars, the Mitsubishi Mirage may be on the way out.
Look, we get it and Nathan’s hit the point time and again: Mitsubishi’s tiny Mirage isn’t exactly an aspirational car. It may not be super cool or engaging, but it is a value-focused and efficient car that makes a strong case for itself if you’re looking for something new to get from A to B. At least, that’s the case right now, because Mitsubishi is reportedly looking to ax its econobox from the lineup by 2025.
It’s a bit of a sad day, as far as I’m concerned, as new available cars under $20,000 are already thin on the ground. As the brand prepares to revamp its lineup for an electrified future, though, Automotive News reports the runabout’s days are indeed numbered. Apart from investing toward electric vehicles, crossovers are king and there’s just no place for a cheap, small car in the game anymore. At least, that’s the premise of this latest revelation.
For the moment, Mitsubishi has not outright confirmed the Mirage’s demise. Unless they choose to announce it firsthand, automakers almost never comment on future products or the fate of existing ones, so the official company line is “steady as she goes”, even as sources inside the company say its about to jettison the Mirage hatchback and its G4 sedan to make way for electrified crossovers.
But…why should I care?
You may scoff at me and Nathan for saying it, but I appreciate the Mirage’s existence. That’s not to say I’d buy one myself or thoroughly enjoy the experience, granted. However, it’s honest about what it is. You get a 1.2-liter engine that, while making just 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque, returns up to 43 mpg without having to spend a decent chunk of money to buy a hybrid.
Did I also mention you could get a Ralliart version? Oh yeah, then you’ll look like a total badass! (That’s obviously a joke…you’re not fooling anybody.)
The more players there are in this segment, the more likely others will continue to exist in the market. Strength in numbers, as they say. America’s small car market has all but evaporated, with the remaining sub-$20K options being the Nissan Versa, the Kia Rio (for a little while longer) and…that’s pretty much it. And you have to put an asterisk by those two, because versions of both those cars you can actually buy off a dealer lot are over $20,000, by and large.
Even with all that in mind, though, you still have to address the elephant in the room. Even though affordability seems like a top-tier selling point for your car, people just don’t buy into small, cheap runabouts these days. We’ve seen several leave the market over the past few years — the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Toyota Yaris, Fiat 500, Dodge Dart, Hyundai Accent, the list goes on — and sales for the remaining models have dwindled. The Mirage has plummeted as even rental fleets lose interest and the Nissan Versa isn’t much better, even with an uptick through the first half of 2023 to 11,014 units. Even if it keeps that pace, selling around 20,000 units, that’s a fraction of the 140,000 or so Nissan sold in 2015.
Nevertheless, it seems there will soon be one fewer option for a truly affordable car. Even if it’s not a great one, folks can’t come crying when the most affordable options crest the $25,000 and higher mark. And let’s not even get into trucks, okay?
Correction 8/15/2023: The original version of this post left out some important context on the Kia Rio, as that’s also