Tuesday, September 26, 2017

We Bought a Mitsubishi Mirage. Here's Why.

We bought a 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage

Well, we added yet another small car to the Subcompact Culture stable ... er ... carport. We bought a 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage. And we'll be selling our 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX. Before you have us committed to an asylum, read on.

Our 2013 WRX is a fantastically fun, fast, and sporting vehicle. It's been perfectly reliable, too. However, we found that we didn't often drive it. We still have our beloved 2007 Toyota Yaris, and a 2001 Jeep Cherokee and 1989 Mitsubishi Delica for our Crankshaft Culture project vehicles. When taking shorter trips, we almost always took the Yaris. When going on longer trips, we took the Jeep, as we were headed camping or off-roading. So the WRX sat.

We got to thinking: What if we buy something inexpensive and frugal and sell the WRX? We could use the money we make from the sale to continue to fund travel, our other vehicular projects, and boost our savings for a rainy day. The decision was made: We'll buy a less-expensive vehicle and sell the Subaru. But what to buy?

We considered another Toyota Yaris liftback, but they're nearly impossible to find—whether new or used—especially with a manual transmission. We considered something like a Nissan Cube or perhaps a Scion xD. Maybe even a Fiat 500. Then a friend (and fellow subcompact car fan) posted up he bought a 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage as an autocross project, and that got my gears turning.

I went to craigslist to see what Mirages were going for used. There were a couple in the $9,000 range. That made me wonder what brand new ones were going for. I went to my local Mitsubishi dealer's website and saw that 2017 ES hatchback models were going for between $9,000 and $10,000 brand new. At that cost, why buy used? (Mitsubishi does have a great warranty: 5 years/60,000 bumper to bumper; 10 year/100,000 power train.)

Truth be told, we'd never driven a six-generation Mirage with a manual transmission; only the CVT models. And there was no way we'd buy a car with an automatic, let alone a CVT. You can read our 2014 Mirage ES review to see why.

We went to the dealership, drove the manual, and decided we quite liked it. Sure, it's not a "driver's car," per se. The clutch has little feel in the uptake, the shifter's throws are lengthy. The 165/65/14 low rolling resistance tires mounted on impossibly narrow 14x5-inch steel wheels are paired with a super-soft suspension that makes the tiny hatchback corner like a bowl of jelly atop stilts with roller skates attached. The 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine makes 78 hp (up a few ponies from the '14-'15 models thanks to a roller-type cam), and makes a fair bit of noise. However, it's got a very unique sound. But keep in mind, we can always stiffen the suspension up and add stickier tires. We can also always add things to make it shift a bit better (we already added a weighted shift knob, which helps immensely). Power isn't all that bad. Then again, we're used to life in the slow lane. Remember, we had a lifted Suzuki Sidekick. FUN FACT: This is the second 1200cc car I've owned. My roommate in college and I split the price of a '79 Honda Civic back in 2000.

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage ES

We were able to pick this Mirage up for $9,600 after all the fees, title, etc. That's pretty incredible for any new car. And remember, this "stripped down" model still has ABS, Bluetooth, USB, power windows and locks, keyless entry, and air conditioning—all for under $10,000.

So yes, we're taking a 187 horsepower hit going from a Subaru WRX to a Mitsubishi Mirage. But life is about priorities. Having big, fast cars isn't "the template," it's "a template" for us. We're thrilled to add another subcompact to the driveway, and looking forward to upgrading our little Mirage and seeing what we can do with it. Coilovers, stickier tires, and a swaybar are likely in the future.

So get the straitjacket, call the asylum, and have us locked up. We've downsized and we're not only good with that, we're excited about it.

Anyone looking for a low-mileage 2013 WRX wagon?


Forestwalker said...

Is a final review of the WRX in the works? with ownership experience?

Did you consider a Ford Fiesta 1.0L ecoboost before deciding on the Mirage?

Unknown said...

I thought Mitsubishi was going the way of Suzuki when the dealer near me closed last year, but so far in 2017 they're actually gaining a little in sales, despite the loss of the Lancer and the industry-wide subcompact slump. But sales totals don't tell you profits, and I doubt they're making that much by selling Mirages for $9k...

Foxtrot685 said...

Mirages aren't necessarily profit generators, but its got 2 things going for it to make up for that. The first is they don't cost anything to make! They are very cheap to build. The second is since this car is manufactured under Thailands Eco-Car program, the Thailand government actually pays Mitsubishi to build the car in the country. So long as Mitsubishi keeps sales in the states higher than about 700 units per month, they'll never lose money on a single Mirage they sell here.

Unknown said...

Beef up your rear suspension with either stock Yaris or Honda Fit coils. Will give you better handling and more cargo capacity. Buy a pair of rear Yaris shocks and drill out the bottom mounting hole, grind the sleeve a bit on each end and they are perfect. I had a 2014 Mirage DE 5spd with rear seats removed, hitch mounted aluminum cargo tray and a 17 cu/ft polyethylene deck box to haul 600 lbs of supplies to nursing homes in rural western PA. I have no trouble with the mountain roads, hills, and curves while loaded, plus I get between 41 and 44 mpg depending on weather and how heavy my right foot is. Driving 325 miles every night 6 nights per week I spend $450 per month on fuel usually and haul more cargo than my coworker who drives a 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe and he spends $1100 per month on fuel. No other vehicle in north America can be bought as cheap and get the fuel mileage as a Mirage. Hybrids cost much more to buy and driving 100K miles per year means battery replacement would be a deal breaker as well. I had to put my Mirage out to pasture after my 8th deer hit, but my second 2015 Mirage DE I bought has taken up the challenge and is going strong. Check your rear wheel alignment as a small percentage have defective axles from the factory. You can get the dealer to fix under warranty but I just do a $40 fix using wire cables from a helpful tip here.. http://mirageforum.com/forum/showthread.php/2563-Rear-Wheel-Misaligned-(UPDATE-some-rear-axles-out-of-spec-warranty-replacement) I also replace stock tires with 185/65R14 tires on the stock rims. They cost way less than the crappy stock tires, fit great, and look great. Throw a set of Blizzak WS60s on a Mirage and I go anywhere Jeeps and Subarus do in the lake effect snow storms off lake erie. I love my mirages so much my girlfriend just bought a 2017 DE with CVT. The CVT is rated for twice the hp output of a Mirage, so it should last a long time. Good luck with your Mirage and I love your website, have been following for a very long time. Todd

Steve said...

Mistubishi is an amazing company, I have 2 of its cars and one of them is 5-6 years old and still run like hell, third one is maybach (mercedes). Mitsubishi cars are really durable and adorable.

Ducati Scotty said...

So I have to say, Andy is way more jazzed when he talks about this little tin box than I’ve ever heard him talking about the Subaru. More fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow? Project potential? Who knows, but it’s a fun little car.

I haven’t driven it but I’ve been a passenger, and it’s such a satisfying car. There’s nothing amazing but there’s nothing terrible. It does everything a car should do with no objectionable behavior. Ok, so maybe they could have at least considered the suggestion of a side bolster in the front seats. Still, it’s so simple and honest it’s hard not to like it immediately.

Anonymous said...

If the Mirage ever feels to big for you, try 2016 and up Chevy Spark with stick shift (I go a 2017 for $9995). It's quite the little closet racer. 1.4L of goodness and a low curb weight means pretty decent performance. Stock tires were hard to find reviews on them, but I finally found them on Consumer Reports and they got high marks for dry, wet, and snow performance. :-)