2014 Mitsubishi Mirage Heels on Wheels Review


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2014 Mitsubishi Mirage


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

KATRINA SAYS: The all-new 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage might meet the new subcompact trend of achieving 40 miles-per-gallon combined, but it's a one-trick pony with very few merits.

INTRO TO THE 40 MPG MIRAGE VEHICLE
Hoping to sweep subcompact shoppers off their frugal feet is the all-new Mirage, a micro-hatchback whose biggest draw is a combined fuel economy of 40 miles-per-gallon. If you are unconvinced a hybrid can do the job – or at least believe gas-based engine technology is able to do it for less money – you might want to check it out.

I drove a 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage with the standard 74-horsepower 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine paired to the available automatic Continuously Variable Transmission. Available in just two trims – the base DE and the ES – my ES trim featured the following as standard highlights: leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; leather-wrapped shift knob; Bluetooth; USB port; four-speaker audio system; push-button start; chrome interior accents; fog lights; rear spoiler; fourteen-inch alloy wheels. Total vehicle price as described came to $15,195.

The Mirage debuts as an all-new vehicle for Mitsubishi. Main competitors include the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Chevy Sonic, and especially the Ford Fiesta with a similar three-cylinder engine that also retains a combined fuel economy of 40 miles-per-gallon.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Despite its lackluster interior, the Mirage does make good use of space with a child seat fitting comfortably in the deep-seated rear row. Subtle pink checks woven in the black cloth upholstery makes for an attractive choice, although the seats are stiff. Navigation is optional and comes with a rearview mirror for $900 – the screen and graphics beat those of Honda’s, but it makes more sense for Mitsubishi to have pieced these two features out as any budget-conscious mind can cross out the need for a rearview camera on this small ride. The push-button start has been displaced; it is left to the steering wheel and quite aggravating as our brains have been trained to reach to the right.

Reliability & Safety Factor:The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage is not yet rated by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Mirage ratings in “Good” in all categories except small overlap front, which earned a “Poor” (check out some cringe-worthy crash photos of the Mirage on their website). The only micro-car on the Top Safety Pick list is the Chevy Spark.

Cost Issues: A base Mirage DE starts at $12,995 with my top-of-the-line trim (if I can say that) costing $16,095. A base Ford Fiesta S starts at $14,100 and elevates to $18,300 for the Titanium trim, which adds a rearview camera, a reverse sensing system, push-button start, an upgraded Sony audio system and leather upholstery. Ford offers more complex infotainment commands, but their screen is on the smallish size.

Activity & Performance Ability: As you can imagine, a 74-horsepower 1.2-liter three cylinder-engine performs exactly like one: at best it’s weak and rattling, with squishy brakes to boot. The suspension is deserving of a better powertrain, as a performance highlight was the Mirage’s handling on the corners. If you believe the sound of saved coins dropping into a piggy bank can drone out the noise of a high-whining transmission searching for its gears every time your foot pushes the gas pedal, you will find satisfaction with the Mirage.

The Green Concern: The Mirage hits the new expected goal of 40 mile-per-gallon combined for a compact, with the Ford Fiesta’s 123-horsepower 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine being its main competitor (it also retains a combined 40).

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage is a one-trick pony that will woo you with its 40 mile-per-gallon ability, if nothing else. Overall, you’d have to be pretty frugal to champion for this subcompact. We highly recommend a hybrid instead – you’d have a lot more necessities (including an engaging driving experience) while still getting great fuel economy.

2014 Katrina Ramser

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