The Mitsubishi Mirage lives up to its name. While its low $16,000 sticker price and good fuel economy of 37 mpg overall may conjure up an inviting image of a good, economical runabout, that illusion quickly dissipates into the haze when you drive this tiny, regrettable car.
The Mirage comes as a tiny hatchback or sedan, built in Thailand and powered by a small three-cylinder engine. To make it somewhat palatable, Mitsubishi primed the pump with a rather impressive list of standard features. But the car is way too slow and noisy, even for a cheap subcompact, to effectively compete in this class.
Our high-trim ES might look OK on paper, with its keyless push-button ignition, cruise control, automatic climate system, 140-watt audio system, and Bluetooth capability. It also has a compliant ride and a surprisingly accommodating rear seat.
But the driving experience falls short on just about every other count. Acceleration from the sputtering, vibrating, engine is sluggish. Engine noise and coarse vibrations fill the miniscule cabin. And while subcompacts are usually nimble, the Mirage's handling is so clumsy, borderlining disconcerting. On top of that, the interior feels drab, cheap, and insubstantial.
The Mirage's only advantage is fuel economy and ease of parking in a congested, urban setting. Even among budget cars, it's a penalty box. With laughably low test results, it's one of the lowest scoring cars we've tested.