What weighs in at about one ton, has been redesigned with new front-end styling and a freshened rear bumper, sports an economical 74-hp engine and is
What weighs in at about one ton, has been redesigned with new front-end styling and a freshened rear bumper, sports an economical 74-hp engine and is fun to drive? The answer is the tweaked 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage.
Mirage took the year off and has returned with a fresh new look thanks to a revamped front fascia with chrome upper/lower grille; new hood design; LED tail lamps; rear spoiler; color-keyed front and rear bumpers; folding side-view mirrors; door handles and tailgate handle; new 14-inch alloy wheel design; 15-inch alloy wheels; HID automatic on/off headlights; beveled fog lamps and nine exterior color choices: Wine Red, Sunrise Orange, Sapphire Blue, Infra Red, Pearl White, Mystic Black, Starlight Silver and Mercury Gray.
The exterior improvements join style with substance as its augmented aerodynamics increase fuel efficiency, while its sleek form helps reduce weight to just over 2000 pounds. This combination keeps gas mileage high while reducing the coefficient of drag (Cd) to 0.27.
The subcompact measures 149.4 inches long, 65.6 inches wide and 59.4 inches high on a 96.5-inch wheelbase, with minimum ground clearance of 6.3 inches and curb weight of only 2090 lbs. for my test Mirage in GT trim.
The GT separates itself from other Mirage trims with a 6.5-inch display audio with Smartphone link, Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™; rear view camera system; bi-xenon HID headlights with light tube; 15-inch two-tone alloy wheels; front seat heater; FAST-key passive entry system and push-button start; semi-hi-contrast meter cluster with chrome accent and Bluetooth® hands-free phone system with steering wheel-mounted controls.
All Mirages are outfitted with a 1.2-liter MIVEC DOHC, 12-valve Inline 3-cylinder engine with an aluminum head and aluminum block. The fuel-efficient Inline-3 engine produces 78 hp and 74 lbs,-ft. of torque. However, even for a 2090-lb. vehicle, the economical system was a slow accelerator and under-performer. You need to strategize your passing and uphill travel, and the engine shows you it is trying with a noisy whine that enters the cabin. Track tests showed an 11.9 second sprint from zero-to-60mph and a quarter-mile journey of 18.7 seconds, slow by every means, but both seemed faster in this subcompact. And weaving in and out of traffic on the highway or cruising around town, Mirage is a very fun drive.
The rack-and-pinion, Electric Power Assist steering is a bit vague, and road inadequacies are often felt through the MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, which reminded me of compacts back in the day, when you expected such things in return for superior gas mileage. Well, Mirage DOES deliver expertly in fuel economy. With an EPA rating of 37mpg in the city, a whopping 43 on the highway and 39 combined, Mirage is a winner at the pumps. While I didn’t average 40, my week of mixed-use tests did come in at a very pump-friendly 39.7mpg.
In the cockpit, Mirage has updated the interior with improved front and rear seat materials, steering wheel with decorative bezel, new panel design for air conditioning and illuminated semi high-contrast combination gauge cluster –speedo and tach.
The cabin offers seating for five with 39.1 inches of front headroom and 37.3 inches in row two, 41.7 inches of front legroom, but only 34.0 in the second seats and shoulder room of 51.7 and 51.0. The tight accommodations are augmented by 6-way adjustable driver’s seat and 4-way front passenger seat, automatic air conditioner and climate control with a micron air filter and rear heater floor ducts.
The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage has supplemented its attention to safety with an advanced seven air bag SRS system including driver's side knee air bag, dual-stage front air bags with occupant seat position sensors, front seat mounted side-impact air bags and front and rear curtain side air bags. Mirage also employs an anti-lock braking system with Electronic Brake-force Distribution; Active Stability Control with Traction Control Logic; Hill Start Assist; Tire Pressure Monitoring System; Engine immobilizer anti-theft security alarm system and Mitsubishi Motors' patented Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution safety cell body construction
The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage is available in three trim levels, with the first two in either 5-speed manual or automatic transmission configurations – the top-level GT is automatic only. The base manual ES starts at $12,995 and the automatic starts at $14,195. The SE bases at $14,795 (manual) and $15,995 (automatic) and my sporty test Mirage GT starts at $16,495. The Wine Red exterior was mated to a black fabric interior, but I thought the also-available Sunrise Orange was a much more hip color for the Mirage. A cargo net and cargo mat added $95; Floor and Center Console illumination in blue added $225; front and rear parking assist sensors added $450; front and rear mudguards and scuff plates added $180; a cool Rockford Fosgate® Premium Audio Package with a 300-watt ecoPunch™ amp with subwoofers added $575, and remote engine start added $495. With destination and handling fees of $635, my Mirage GT test ride stickered for $18,775, but some dealers offer incentives of $1000 or more, so check one out at a dealership … it’s a ton of fun.
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Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.