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Turkey Quick Spin: 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage GT

Kamil Kaluski November 24, 2016 Featured, Mitsubishi Reviews, Quick Spin 18 Comments

2017-mitsubishi-mirage-gt-front-grill

When the small, three-cylinder, Mitsubishi Mirage was introduced in 2014 it got mixed reviews. Some hated it, others said that it was exactly what was expected – a basic, low priced, and fuel efficient automobile. The biggest thing the Mirage had going for it was the fact that it was a brand new car, with warranty, priced under $13,000 and actually selling for a lot less than that.

For reasons unknown, the Mirage took model year 2016 off – it simply was not available. Despite that, its sales have remained steady, which is shocking. The vehicle underwent some surgery and came back refreshed for 2017 with new trims and a sedan brother known as Mirage G4.

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On paper, the changes to the Mirage look meaningful. Mechanically, a new camshaft raised the power by four to 78 horsepower. To better control all that new power a set of slightly stiffer springs and shocks were installed. More power also requires more brakes, so the front discs and rear drum sizes were increased.

To differentiate the new 2017 model, a new front fascia with a bigger grill was added. Bumpers, mirrors, and door handles were painted body color and LED lights front and rear accent the changes. The exterior changes were finished off with new wheel designs and a small spoiler on top of the hatch. The new interior now has more airbags, new seat materials, new steering wheel and HVAC controls. There is a new 140-watt audio system and a keyless entry system.

Three trim levels have also been revised. Seen in these pictures is the new top dog GT model. On the outside, this model has bigger fifteen inch wheels, bi-xenon HID headlights with LED daytime lights, and fog lights. Inside are heated front seats leather wrapped wheel and shift knob, and automatic climate controls. The audio system has a bigger screen and now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a back-up camera.

2017-mitsubishi-mirage-gt-dash

So, with all these changes and improvements, the 2017 Mirage must be a much better vehicle, right?

Well, kind of, not really. It’s an improved version of what was not a good vehicle. It is still small and still under-powered, the engine is still loud and rough. It still feels and looks low budget, and the ride still is uncomfortable, mostly due to the Mirage’s short wheelbase. The GT model just has more stuff in it, a lot of which is available on the mid-level SE trim. But all that stuff, it feels like it has all been added-on, retro-fitted if you will.

For example, the GPS antenna is just glued to the top of the dash, with the cable visible – I saw BestBuy free installers do a better job. The USB jack is a cable in the glove box. The back-up camera is just stuck onto the tailgate. The ignition switch was just blanked off and the start button randomly placed on the left.

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But now the 2017 changes have created a new problem. LCIs, or mid-cycle impulses, known commonly as face-lifts are not free. The cost of these changes trickles down to the buyer. So while the very base Mirage still starts $12,995.00, this loaded GT model has the manufacturer’s suggest retail price of $17,330.00, with destination charges.

The problem with that price is that there are a lot of other new vehicles that have more room, more power, more refinement, and seem better made than the Mirage and cost about as much. Further, the world of certified pre-owned cars opens up a whole new world of possibilities for a budget buyer, all with similar financing and warranty options.

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Aside from its size and engine, it looks and feels like a car much more dated than what it actually is. It is a vehicle that might be more successful outside of the North American market, where people have lower expectations, gas is much more expensive, and speeds are slower. It is for all those reasons that I feel like the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage is an automotive turkey, and on this Thanksgiving it deserves to be called just that.

2017-mitsubishi-mirage-gt-front

Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Motors provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. All images except the dash, copyright Kamil Kaluski/Hooniverse 2016.

 

  • Harry Callahan

    There isn’t much need for Mitsubishi in the US market now. They appear unable to produce products suitable for our market. Kia/Hyundai and Nissan do a much better job in this lower end market

  • outback_ute

    Top trim level cars that cost 50% more than the base price rarely make a lot of sense, although you usually get more for the extra than just more toys.

    I rode in a Mirage sedan recently and was surprised by the rear seat room. The dashboard and door trims are nasty plastic (which is expected) and not a particularly pleasing design (which is harder to ‘justify’ on cost-saving grounds). Incidentally the Mirage starts at AUD$14k “drive away” ie including all taxes, registration and compulsory insurance so it is a lot cheaper here.

    It would be ok as a cheap around town runabout, but if you want to drive on the freeway I would advise looking for lightly used second hand cars instead.

  • CraigSu

    Mitsubishi is still a thing in the US? I thought they dried up and blew away after they killed the Evo. Maybe they should have.

  • Sjalabais

    It’s the eternal conundrum of why buy a meh new car if you can get a better used car. That even applies to the Mirage itself: Free of scientific research I postulate that a two year old Mirage is a screaming deal. So why buy new?

    On the other hand, a stable 20k units sold per year isn’t bad. But is it enough to sustain a dealer network if they don’t have much else on offer? Who does Mitsubishi team up with?

    • Maymar

      I don’t care for car dealers, I would prefer to minimize the time I spend in one. If I’m prepared to run something into the ground, buying new lengthens the time before I have to talk to a car salesperson again. It’s at least a thing to consider, how much I’m willing to spend to avoid a dealer.

      Also, it looks like (here, at least) the Mirage is one of many cheaper cars eligible for 0% financing pretty much until the end of time, which no used car is even close to eligible for,

    • Rover 1

      A part of the story of why Mitsubishi is now owned by Nissan-Renault.

    • Cobra Kai

      The answer to your question is…financing.

      A used $12,000 2013 Honda Civic with 56k miles may be a better car than a new $12,000 2017 Mirage with 5 miles, but the bank may not see it that way.

      They will finance the Civic for three years, giving a payment of $335. But they will finance the Mirage for six or even seven years, giving a payment of $225. Your finances may be such that the bank feels you can afford the $225 payment, but not the $335 payment.

      Plus, the Mirage has a fantastic warranty, and that is a great comfort to buyers in this part of the market. The car will likely be paid off before it needs it’s first out-of-pocket repair. As a Mirage owner, I can say that very few people will actually USE the Mirage’s generous warranty anyway. They are very, very reliable.

  • The weird thing about the Mirage is that, on sites like EcoModder, it’s treated as the second coming of the Geo Metro.

    Basically, it’s dirt cheap for a new car, you can get it new with a warranty (and not rusted out like a used Metro, seeing as they’re all 15+ years old), it’s faster than a Metro, and it gets really good mileage. For that niche, it seems to work well.

    • Rover 1

      That sounds about right.

      A brand new Mitsubishi is very slightly better than a 15 year old Geo Metro.

      • Cobra Kai

        My Mirage actually replaced a Metro, lol. Its WAAAAAY better.

  • MattC

    I want the Mirage to succeed. I really do and I am biased based on my previous long commute warrior; a 2001 Mirage ES ( can you picture what one looks like? Exactly. Its anonymity was a blessing in rough areas) . My Mirage put 250k faithful miles and had exactly 2 unplanned maintenance issues : a busted high side AC connection and a code thrown due to a leaky valve cover gasket during its tenure. This is a car that you buy to put on miles, park in unsavory places, not worry about rock chips,tow behind an RV, and replace when completely worn out. Considering I never see a more than one person at a Mitsu dealership, I doubt anyone is paying full price for this.

    Kamil makes an excellent point that there are scores of better slightly used cars that drive and feel better. I slightly used Mazda 2 will feel like a rocket ship compared to this. The Mirage will be fighting an uphill battle against other newer B-car offerings.

  • Cobra Kai

    A $17,000 Mirage GT makes about as much sense as a $22,000 Honda Fit or an $19,000 Nissan Versa sedan. For $22,000 you can leave Honda’s cheapie completely alone and get a very well equipped Civic. A nice Sentra can be had for $19,000 all day long.

    But base models or even mid-trim models in this class make much more sense. There are brand new 5-speed base model Mirages near me for around $11,000. And the base car still comes with AC, power everything, stability control, etc, etc. Why Mitsubishi sends out top-spec cars to driver-oriented magazines as testers is beyond me. They should have sent out a 5-speed mid-level Mirage SE.

    I actually bought a new 2015 Mirage ES in December, 2014. The ES was top-of-the-line in 2015, and the car set me back a hair over $14,000. It has been a great car, and does exactly what I bought it to do. It averages 45 mpg all day long and has needed nothing but routine maintenance over 52,000 miles.