Mitsubishi Mirage 5-door — Passing gas stations every day

By David Finkelstein
Special to MotorwayAmerica

When consumers shop for a replacement  vehicle, often  MPG numbers are high on the list of criteria and objectives. To that thought,  Mitsubishi Motors is featuring its entry level 2015 Mirage 5-door  hatchback as the most  fuel efficient “non-hybrid” gasoline powered vehicle  available  in America  today.

Its EPA numbers reflect a combined fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon, with 37 mpg in city driving and a whopping 44 mpg during  highway usage  equipped with the CVT automatic transmission. 

The Mirage competes  with the likes of the Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta, Honda  Fit,  Mazda2, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris and the Nissan Versa. These products are frequently cross-shopped in the sub-compact segment.  

The Mirage comes from the factory with a lengthy list of  standard  equipment, welcomed available  upscale features, and a fairly affordable  pricing structure. So, who tends to buy Mirage? According to Mitsubishi  marketing research, the car is suited towards a wide array of  automotive  consumers who include first-time drivers, retirees  (both male and female), and  short-hop urban city dwellers  who  live and/or work as well as commute within  the city limits itself.  

This formula makes the sub-compact categories one of  the fastest  growing automotive segments across the U.S.  Pricing begins at  $12,995 excluding destination charges of $810. The car is sold in two trim levels — the Mirage DE and  the upscale Mirage ES, which of course has additional equipment.

To break it down somewhat, the items  included  at no extra cost on the DE trim level include a four-speaker, 140-watt  AM/FM/CD/MP3  audio system with USB input; automatic  climate control;  upscale-looking  rich high-gloss piano black center console trim; stylish rear  spoiler;  keyless entry with  panic alarm; tilt steering, power windows with driver's side  auto-up/down; variable intermittent wipers; convenient  split  folding  rear seat; rear seat heater ducts; body-colored power side mirrors, door handles and tailgate handle; plus many other  welcome features. 

For about  $1,300 additional, the Mirage ES (price, $14,295)  includes all of the  comprehensive  content from the Mirage DE,  but further ups the amenities with  a  vast assortment of equipment  such as Bluetooth hands-free phone  system;  One-Touch Start/Stop  engine switch; steering wheel-mounted  audio controls;  wireless  key  passive entry system; cruise control; 14-in. aluminum alloy  wheels; fog  lights; and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift  knob.

Numerous  additional accessory packages are also available.  This includes LED Illumination  lighting, front and rear park assists  sensors,  exterior and chrome packages as  well as a navigation  package that  includes a SD card-based navigation system  with  rearview camera. But one really has to ask themselves, on a small  sub  compact automobile such as this, do you really need the optional  electronic park  assists sensors? After all, you're not parking  a limo!

Some of  the changes for  2015 compared to the 2014 version  are chrome interior trim accents used on select dash assembly hardware,  a more modern low profile/shorter radio antenna and on  the ES  models, Mitsubishi included upgraded seating surfaces and side door  mirrors with built in turn indicator lamps.

As for as some of  the  additional exterior  features, the car has  a fairly small front  grille opening,  a patented  teardrop-shaped roofline and a high-mounted   rear spoiler "wing"of which tends to  effectively reduce wind drag.   Due in part to the use of  high-tensile steel  to key sections, Mirage's body has excellent structural rigidity. Improvements  in  the cars heating and A/C system help in airflow, regardless of your  seating  position. The newly designed pollen filter  helps to improve interior air  quality.  

Interior  design touches  include several handy storage compartments  and trays plus large  cup holders, split-fold rear seats plus  just over 17  cubic   feet of rear cargo carrying volume capacity. The vehicles electric power steering also helps in reducing fuel consumption.  

Powering  the Mirage is a fuel-stingy 1.2-liter,  3-cylinder DOHC engine. It incorporates  computer controlled  electronic/mechanical variable  valve timing for further  maximizing   fuel efficiency.  It generates  around 74  horsepower at 6,000 rpm.  OK, I know what you're  thinking,  74 horsepower-really? We admit it doesn't have overwhelming passing  performance, but its not designed for that — it's a fuel efficient  run about!

Two  transmissions are available — a precise shifting  5-speed manual  or a  high-tech continuously-variable automatic  transmission. Under the  heading of safety, included are  seven  air bags; 4-wheel anti-lock  brakes  with electronic brake-force  distribution and brake assist;  a tire pressure monitoring system  and  active stability control  with traction control logic are also included.   Another   safety technology  is a brake override system. Should  the brake and accelerator  pedals  be applied simultaneously while  moving, the engines control module  will override the accelerator's  input and give priority to the  brakes. This  greatly reduces  the risk of  an unintended acceleration. 

Also included is their  10-year/100,000-mile  powertrain limited warranty; 5-year/60,000-mile  new  vehicle limited  warranty and 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside  assistance.