New Car/Review

1999 MITSUBISHI MIRAGE LS SEDAN

By Matt/Bob Hagin

Mitsubishi Full Line factory footage (11:59) 28.8, 56k, or 200k
SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 14,090
Price As Tested                                    $ 18,308
Engine Type               SOHC 16-valve 1.8 Liter I4 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                 112 cid/1834 cc
Horsepower                   (111-hp in Ca,) 113 @ 5500 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               116 @ 4500 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                   98.4"/66.5"/173.6"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     2429 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  12.4 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                      185/65R14
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                               Five-percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.30

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            26/33/29
0-60 MPH                                         11 seconds
1/4 mile  (E.T.)                      19 seconds @ 79.5 mph
Top speed                                           105 mph
     * Multi-port fuel injection

(Matt Hagin says the Mirage name was first put on a Mitsubishi model in 1985, just two years after the company planted roots here. Bob Hagin says Mitsubishi must like the name of its entry-level compact since it's been attached to various versions of the same car for so many years.)

BOB - Mitsubishi representation is a bit light in this country and at last count, there were only 120 Mitsubishi new car dealers nationwide. For a while, the company sold Mirage coupes to the public with all its sedans going to rental car companies but now the four-doors are being retailed through dealerships too.

MATT - The Mirage is available as a four-door sedan and two-door coupe but the two of them don't share much in way of exterior sheet metal. The four-door has obviously taken design cues from Mitsubishi's flagship sedan, the Diamante. The Mirage DE sedan has a base price of $12,450 with a manual transmission while the upscale LS sedan, like the one we evaluated, has an available four-speed automatic and starts at $14,090. The current car was a redesign in '93 and is still looks modern but there are a few changes for '99. They include two new exterior colors, some fancy restyling of the rear lights, new seat facing fabric and a newly designed sunglasses holder. But the optional power-operated sunroof which came in the $1,190 Premium Package our car had got in the way of this, so our test car didn't have one.

DAD - That was tough, Matt, but I learned to live without it. The car we had also came with the $1,607 Value Package, which is offered for the LS models only. This adds a lot of conveniences like power windows, cruise control, bigger wheels and tires and other goodies that make driving more pleasant. The DE model has a package called Comfort and Convenience for $1,532, but the car comes with a 1.5 liter single overhead cam, 12-valve engine that is a little underpowered at only 92 horses. The LS is a much more desirable package for most Americans, since it has more-or-less the same engine but it's bumped up to 1.8 liters. It pumps out 113 horsepower and enough extra torque to handle the automatic. It's no lightweight at 2500 pounds but the extra ponies under the hood of the LS model make it a much more desirable "ride."

MATT - I'm a fan of anti-lock brakes Dad, so my choice is also the LS because ABS is not available on Mirage DE. ABS on the LS model is a little pricey at $732, but when you need it, you're mighty glad it's there. Both of the Mirage sedans are a little snug on the inside for tall people like my brother Brendan, but manual seat height adjusters come standard on the LS to compensate for big guys. Both Mirage sedans have power rack-and-pinion steering systems, front and rear center arm rests and a space-saver spare as an economy measure.

DAD - The first thing I do if I had a Mirage is to replace that dinky spare with a real tire that could be used in a periodic tire rotation. I'm sure the thing provides a bit of extra room in the trunk but I also think it's a talking point rather that a practical advantage.

MATT - There is no traction control, tachometer or rear spoiler offered in the sedan line, either, - a fact I like. I think those hot-rod items are better left for the more upscale cars. The Mirage has MacPherson struts up front and an interesting multi-link rear set-up that combines to give good handling for this little family car. It's a bit nose heavy, however, with 62 percent of its weight on the front end, but with a full complement of passengers, the handling neutralizes nicely. Nice touches on this family car are the rear child safety-seat anchors and rear inner-door handles that lock internally to keep kids from unlatching them and falling out, this is something that you find on mid to upper level cars.

BOB - Mitsubishi is really thinking "green," Matt, and a great proportion of the plastic items on the Mirage are built for easy separation when the car has done its duty and is up for salvage.

MATT - Dad, with the small amount of miles you put on a car every year, if this Mirage LS was yours, it wouldn't be ready for the salvage yard until the 22nd century.

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