The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage starts at $14,298 in the U.S. and at $13,858 in Canada, freight and delivery charges not included.
Good fuel economy, low maintenance costs, excellent warranty.
Could use more power, engine noise, pricier trim levels a tougher sell.
The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is part of a rapidly declining segment, as car shoppers are turning to more upscale and costlier vehicles, which are obviously more profitable for automakers. This city car’s competition has been reduced to a few models, so it’s time for Mitsubishi to take advantage of the situation.
It’s also time for small-car buyers to take a look at the Mirage, because from a purely rational standpoint, it’s a sound purchase. From an emotional standpoint, well, not so much.
In the small-car segment, the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback and the now U.S.-only Mirage G4 sedan still battle the Chevrolet Spark, but also models slightly bigger such as the Kia Rio and the Nissan Versa, along with the Hyundai Accent in the U.S. The Honda Fit, the Ford Fiesta, the Toyota Yaris, the Toyota Prius c, the Fiat 500 and the Canadian-market Nissan Micra have all gone away—which means very few cars priced under $20K remain.
For the 2021 model year, the Mirage gets yet another facelift with new grille and headlights, along with the brand’s Dynamic Shield design cues. The rear end has also been restyled, while new paint colors are available, too. The cabin receives some appearance enhancements and a new infotainment system with seven-inch touchscreen, while autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and automatic high beams are now available. Uplevel trims offer items like heated front seats, an intelligent key system and 15-inch alloy wheels.
The Mirage is equipped with a 1.2L three-cylinder engine that develops 78 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque. A modest output compared to today’s standards, and below the 98 horsepower of the Spark, the 122 horsepower of the Versa and the 120 horsepower of the Rio and Accent. Performance is far from exhilarating, obviously, but good enough for the daily grind both around town and on the highway.
Are we always in a hurry? We should ask ourselves this question, as small cars weren’t necessarily more powerful 20 or 30 years ago. Yours truly’s first cars were definitely not road rockets, but mainstream vehicles: 1986 Subaru GL wagon (82 horsepower), 1990 Dodge Colt (81 horsepower), 1987 Toyota Corolla (74 horsepower). By the way, an average-sized car needs only about 15 horsepower to keep a constant highway speed. The real problem is our perception of how powerful a car needs to be, or maybe a more powerful car makes us feel better about ourselves.
In the case of the Mirage, its problem is engine noise, high and unrefined at high rpm. Matched to the five-speed manual gearbox, the little three-cylinder mill doesn’t isn’t as vocal, but the continuously variable automatic transmission keeps the engine revving near its redline during hard acceleration, which becomes an earful.
In the U.S., the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback boasts city/highway/combined fuel economy ratings of 33/41/36 mpg with the manual, and 36/43/39 mpg with the automatic. The Mirage G4 sedan is rated at 33/40/35 mpg with the manual gearbox, and 35/41/37 with the CVT. In Canada, the Mirage flaunts ratings of 7.1/5.8/6.5 L/100 km with the manual and 6.6/5.6/6.2 L/100 km with the automatic. During our test with a base Mirage ES and the five-speed, we managed 40.5 mpg or 5.8 L/100 km.
While the first editions of the Mirage that arrived in North America had noticeable body roll, Mitsubishi made some adjustments to the car’s suspension a few years ago, and road manners have improved. It’s not perfect, but it’s better.
The Mirage ranges in price from $14,298 to $18,735 in the United States, and from $13,858 to $20,608 in Canada, freight and delivery charges excluded. A noteworthy feature for the Canadian market is standard automatic climate control, meaning it’s the country’s most affordable car with A/C, but the base ES trim isn’t equipped with power locks or a keyfob, it has crank windows in the rear doors and there’s no passenger-side vanity mirror.
Why You Should Buy a 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage
- In addition to the low MSRP, the Mirage usually benefits from low finance and lease rates. That means one of the lowest monthly payments around for a brand-new car.
- The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage benefits from a 10-year or 100,000-mile/160,000-km (whichever comes first) powertrain warranty, which no other manufacturer can match in the U.S. and Canada. That means peace of mind for potentially a very long time.
- The Mirage is the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car on the market.
- Maintenance costs are very reasonable, and the Mirage has been a generally reliable car since it arrived on the North American market. In short, the car costs very little to purchase and operate.
- The Mirage is accommodating enough for four adults to sit comfortably, and the G4 sedan offers plenty of rear-seat legroom. The hatchback model has more cargo space than the Spark.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy A 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage
- The modest engine output is obviously an issue for many shoppers, who don’t really need more power, but just want more.
- The unrefined engine noise might turn off folks taking the Mirage for a test drive around the dealership.
- The little Mitsubishi may be the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car on the market, when we start crunching the numbers, we realize that more modern subcompact and even compact rivals are actually not that far off. The engine output trade-off for maximum efficiency may not be worth it.
- While interior fit and finish is fine for a car of this price, in Canada, the base trim level’s touchscreen infotainment system seems to have been designed at least a decade ago, and probably was. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration along with a more modern infotainment unit are only available in costlier trim levels—but at least they’re standard in the U.S.
- The Mirage may have a lower base price in Canada than in the USA, it means the base ES trim level doesn’t feature remote keyless entry nor power locks, which is a pain when we’re frequently commuting with more than one person on board. The base trim’s seats could be more comfortable.
Now that the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage has a lot less competition, it’s time to prove itself and increase its market share. There’s nothing exciting about owning and driving this car, but it does bring peace of mind, and its low purchase and upkeep costs allow us to enjoy finer things in life. For people who would rather spend their hard-earned money on something else than a car, the Mirage is worth a look.
In the U.S., the Mitsubishi more closely matches its rivals in price and features, with the major downside being a less powerful and noisier engine. In Canada, the base trim level with the manual transmission is the best choice as a bargain-basement new car with a good warranty, but from a price standpoint, the more-equipped versions of the Mirage have to deal with bigger, more comfortable and more refined cars on the market—and even some lightly used pre-owned vehicles.