Overview & Reviews
When it comes to the small car segment, Japanese automakers have long held a dominant role. But some makes and models have been more popular than others. The Mitsubishi Mirage reliably served as an affordable and economical set of wheels for 16 years, usually scoring well in quality surveys and critics' reviews. Yet this compact sedan and coupe never could escape the shadows of more popular models like the Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra or Toyota Corolla.
In actuality, the Mirage's road manners, at least on versions equipped with the proper engine and tires, were reasonably refined and up to the demands of basic transportation. Gas mileage was decent, cabins were acceptably isolated from noise and ride harshness, and the Mirage's interior was designed as well as any. Finally, Mitsubishi was ahead of the game in offering what small-car shoppers presumably look for most: a low price.
For awhile there, the Mitsubishi Mirage even showed hints of sports car aspirations by dishing out a couple high-output engines, one of them turbocharged. But the Mirage never attained much sales success. Most shoppers at the time preferred the comfortable reputation provided by more mainstream products. As a used compact sedan or coupe, the Mirage is at least worth a look as a budget buy, especially given its below-average resale value. However, you'll want to be aware of the car's limitations and faults, and comparing it to a few other small car choices would probably be wise.
Most Recent Mitsubishi Mirage
The Mitsubishi Mirage lived its fourth and final life from 1997-2002. Its lineup was divided between sedan and coupe body styles and entry-level DE (later ES) and upscale LS trim lines. Engines included a 1.5-liter engine with 92 horsepower and a 1.8-liter with 113, both of which could be paired with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
At first, all Mirages were sparsely equipped, but LS models could at least be ordered with power windows and locks, cruise control, 14-inch wheels and a sunroof. Style-conscious LS coupes added standard alloy wheels, foglights, a spoiler and a tachometer.
Over the next few years, Mitsubishi tinkered with the different trims' feature lists; the most notable change was the discontinuation of antilock brakes, which were only offered as an option on LS models through 1999. For the Mirage's final year, only the coupe survived, as Mitsubishi discontinued the sedan in favor of the car's eventual replacement, theLancer.
Picking the right Mitsubishi Mirage is critical to its desirability. Because the 1.8-liter engine and 14-inch wheels are necessary for decent acceleration, handling and braking, stick to sedans of 2000-'01 or an LS of any year, which have more amenities anyway. Also note that the sedan's slightly greater length, wheelbase and height (a tradition carried over from past Mirages) made it a passable four-seater, whereas the coupe's backseat suffered from cramped space and awkward entry and exit, partly due to a passenger seat that didn't slide forward easily.
With any Mirage of this vintage, one pressing matter to keep in mind is safety, as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded it an unusually low rating of "Poor" in its frontal offset crash test.
Past Mitsubishi Mirage Models
The most recent Mitsubishi Mirage owed much of its design to the generation of 1993-'96. The third-gen Mirage was also available in sedan and coupe form, and it used the same engines and transmissions. It was also similar in size and had the same suspension (struts in front, multilink in rear) and the same competent demeanor on the road. The most significant difference is that the automatic transmission attached to the 1.5-liter engine had only three speeds, which made for noisy and inefficient freeway driving.
Trim lines included the S, ES and LS. The 1.8-liter engine initially came only in the LS sedan, then spread to ES sedans and LS coupes in 1994. Other changes that year included an upgrade from 13-inch wheels to 14 (on some models) and a driver side front airbag. Dual front airbags replaced the motorized seatbelts in 1995, the same year Mitsubishi oddly ceased selling sedan versions of the Mirage to the public, instead restricting them to fleets.
While this generation of Mirage had a sound design, the details limit its appeal. The 13-inch wheels and lack of airbags during the early years are a concern, while the later years are limited to a smallish two-door coupe that went without now-common amenities like power windows and locks or cruise control.
The second-generation Mitsubishi Mirage of 1989-'92 was another story. Body styles consisted of a sedan and a two-door hatchback, with most models coming with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 81 hp (92 from 1991 onwards). Transmissions included four- and five-speed manuals and three- and four-speed automatics; its rear suspension was a rigid axle and not all models had power steering. Add it all up and this Mirage was a little less refined than its successors.
But it was perhaps more interesting. One particularly memorable Mirage was the Sport hatchback of 1989 only, whose turbocharged 135-hp 1.6-liter engine, five-speed manual transmission, sport suspension and four-wheel disc brakes added some spice. Nearly as entertaining was the GS sedan of 1991-'92, whose twincam 1.6-liter engine made 123 hp.
While it's generally a better idea to stick with newer generations given the Mirage's affordability, these rare special editions have gone down in history as being the fastest Mirages that Mitsubishi ever built.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 146.00
Indestructible - 2001 Mitsubishi Mirage
By jimcsmith1988 - November 18 - 4:06 am
Astonishingly reliable- I purchased in 2011 used, and within three days a wind storm dropped a 5000 pound tree on the hood. After chopping the tree up, the car took off as if nothing happened. With a mileage intensive job, I've been heaping miles on it without issue. Just swapped out the timing belt after 100K miles to be safe, but it gave no indication that it needed it. It is small, and I'd recommend the 4 door. The mileage is beyond incredible, I get somewhere between 30-35MPG on average, and that's with a 10 year old automatic setup. The pickup is not fast, but it can maintain 90MPH on the highway without issue. I smiled a bit when I overtook a new Challenger on the interstate.
Cheap to high performance - 2002 Mitsubishi Mirage
By Michael - November 7 - 5:20 pm
This car handles great, good on gas, to gain more horse just replace air filter with a KN filter. That will give you 12 additional horse power and if you spend an additional $150 bucks you can up the performance with an after market chip for extra 30 hp without affecting smog. Cheapest way to get performance for a very reliable car-try it!
Don't believe the negative hype.... - 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage
By pwernich - October 25 - 4:14 am
I bought my 2014 Mirage with less than 5,000 miles and got a great deal. I have the blue one with the navigation/back-up camera/info-tainment system, ground effects kit, and interior ambient lighting. It is very sporty and unique looking. I average 40-45 mpg's and I am an agrressive driver. I recently drove over an hour in high winds and hard rain and the Mirage handled like a champ. It accelerates to my satisfaction and the car has a great warranty (5/60 bumper to bumper). I disagree with all those so called "experts" who bash this car. The Mirage has a low price, gets super gas mileage, and a terrific warranty. If you have reasonable expectations you won't be disappointed. Test drive one.
Love my Mirage - 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage
By kdcka1 - October 24 - 6:54 pm
I was attracted to this car because of the low purchase price and low fuel costs - I get up to 48 MPG ! I think it is adorable and fun to drive. It is liberating to not feel the money flying out of your pockets every time you go somewhere. I previously drove a Jeep and got about 15 MPG. It is full of standard features and does not feel like a cheap car at all. My Jeep was a 2005 loaded limited edition - and I do not feel deprived at all making the change. Great bargain, reliable, and feels like you spent more than you did. Great size to sneak into small parking spaces.
Mirage is a winner! - 1998 Mitsubishi Mirage
By Texas Gary - March 17 - 10:00 am
We've had this vehicle for about four years now, nearly 65,000 miles, without any problems whatsoever. Only work needed so far has been for routine maintenance. Good fuel economy at ~30mpg average city/hwy mix. Our mechanic even loves it, says it's very easy to work on.
Not bad, but nothing to write home about - 2002 Mitsubishi Mirage
By MG1 - February 22 - 10:00 am
I bought this car when it was 8 months old fo a very decent price. It's good basic transportation but nothing more. It will get you to work and back with no major drama. Once it gets up to speed, it isn't bad, but it is very slow off the line. So slow, it can be dangerous. Drive it until it dies, because it has no resale value. Quality of materials is very cheap. I see 2-3 year old Mirages with the paint peeling off or very faded. I wax mine 3 times/year and so far I am lucky.
Mitsubishis best car ever! - 2002 Mitsubishi Mirage
By Nick10923 - February 13 - 2:00 am
This is a great car with the fuel effieciency of a Honda Civic performance just like any other car if not better (it only weighs a ton, exactly). Mine is a 1994 with 130,000 miles still great except brake light keeps on coming up for no reason now. I would like to note that this is my fathers car soon to be mine and he drives it really hard hes kind of a reckles driver. He pushes this car to the limits and beets most cars on the limit line at an green light.
Good car - 2001 Mitsubishi Mirage
By Vik2001 - December 22 - 10:00 am
This is an excelent vehicle to drive. With its 1.8l engine is ti powerfull enough to give you confidence and strenght in traffic. It's fun to drive and you save on gas a lot.
Coupe Review - 1998 Mitsubishi Mirage
By Cody Paul - December 8 - 10:00 am
Better car than value shows - 2000 Mitsubishi Mirage
By Lumpy Mullet - December 8 - 10:00 am
My wife and I have owned a 2000 for almost 2 years and find it to be an excellent car. Only negative is resale value.