Tom Crosby: New 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage has some pluses

Tom Crosby

When asked what is most important when shopping for a car, the consistent top survey answer is price. Also among the top responses is mileage. That makes the all-new 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage subcompact sedan – there are also Mirage hatchbacks – attractive with its wallet-friendly price and gas-sipping engine.

We test-drove the Mirage G4 SE, situated above the base ES trim, and found excellent comfort in a nice-sized cockpit with heated seats, large door map pockets, keyless entry and an attractive profile.

Our test drive averaged 41 miles per gallon with 80 percent of the total test miles driven on the interstate. Those miles come with a sacrifice, as the 1.2-liter, 78-horsepower engine is too weak for quick take off and noisy when accelerating or traveling at higher speeds. But if the engine strain proves too much, Mitsubishi offers the best (fully transferable if resold) powertrain and new vehicle limited warranties – 10-year/100,000 powertrain and 5-year/60,000 new vehicle.

Outside, the Mirage sedan is attractive with a sleek look with design changes from the Mirage hatchback that include hood, grille, raked windshield, spoiler and front/rear bumpers riding on new 15-inch dark chrome alloy wheels.

More interior space shrinks trunk space from the hatchback but includes a temporary spare tire. While the interior is rather ordinary, the SE offers some competitive pluses like Android Auto and CarPlay via the 6.5-inch touchscreen, USB link, cruise control and hill start assist. Visors are non-extendable and there is no front seat armrest. Climate controls worked well but there is no outside temperature reading. Rear seats hold two adults comfortably.The sole top safety feature is a rear view camera (mandatory in new cars next year). More safety features in a small car are always good.

High-tensile steel and reinforced impact design have earned the Mirage 4 out of 5 stars in past crash tests but small overlap front-impacts still get low scores. The lack of an optional navigation system forced being distracted using the cell phone. The ride is pleasant on smooth pavement and the suspension – MacPherson type strut in front, torsion beam in rear – absorbed well minor road imperfections. Even with rack-and-pinion steering, handling was average but the tight 31.5 feet turning radius is an asset at slow speeds. Competitive subcompact sedans include Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio. Mirage’s G4 stands for global four-door and distinguishes the sedan from the Mirage hatchback.

Likes: Mileage, cabin room, ride, turning radius

Dislikes: Low horsepower, noisy, few safety features

Bottom line: Subcompacts are in competitive market but Mirage offers some top appeal

Fact File
2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G5 SE

Base price w/destination fee: $17,830 (no options added).
Vehicle weight:  2,095 pounds.
Wheelbase: 96.5 inches.
Length: 149.4 inches.
Width: 65.6 inches.
Engine: 1.2-liter DOHC 3-cylinder.
Horsepower: 78 hp at 6,000 rpm.
Torque: 74 ft.-lbs. at 4,000 rpm.
Transmission: continuous variable transmission.
EPA rating: 35 mpg city and 42 mpg highway.
Range: 9.2-gallon tank, regular.
Performance: 0-60 in more than 11 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.