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2018 mitsubishi Mirage

The Mitsubishi Mirage subcompact is a true rarity in this automotive age of excess: a back-to-basics, no-nonsense ride intended primarily as sensible transportation. Flashy and powerful it isn't, but the diminutive, affordable hatchback does offer a surprising amount of passenger space, excellent maneuverability and combined fuel economy of 39 mpg - that's tops among non-hybrid cars in the United States.

Overview
Make no mistake - at 148.8 inches long, 59.1 high and 65.6 wide, the Mirage is tiny. Given its Lilliputian dimensions, the Mirage's passenger compartment is larger than one would expect, with space that's adequate for four adults. The cargo area measures a minuscule eight cubic inches, however. There's precious little flair in terms of the interior styling, but the materials are sturdy and the controls logically placed and easy to use.

Despite its entry-level positioning, the Mirage isn't bare-bones when it comes to content: power windows and locks, automatic climate control and a stereo with iPod/USB connectivity are fitted as standard. Options include a navigation system with a rear-view camera, parking sensors and interior LED lighting.

The Mirage features a three-cylinder engine that prioritizes efficiency ahead of power. It produces just 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque, but when paired with an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) it returns truly impressive fuel economy: 37 mpg in the city, 43 mpg on the highway and 39 mpg combined.

The standard gearbox is a five-speed manual transmission; it facilities quicker acceleration but lowers efficiency to 33 mpg in the city, 41 mpg on the highway and 36 mpg combined.

With an tight turning circle of 30.2 feet, nimble responses enabled by a curb weight of less than 2,000 pounds, and dimensions that lend themselves to easy parking, the Mirage is in its element in city environments. Slow acceleration means the hatchback is less at home merging onto busy highways, however.

Standard and optional features
The Mirage is offered in ES, SE, and GT trim levels.

In addition to a very generous warranty, the ES comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, power steering, halogen headlights, LED tail lights, body-colored bumpers and mirrors, chrome accents on the grille, 14-inch steel wheels with plastic wheel covers, a temporary spare tire, four-way adjustable front seats, map lights, A/C, a tilted steering wheel, floor mats, a 140-watt sound system with four speakers, keyless entry, power windows, power locks, and hill start assist. That's not bad for one of the most affordable new cars in America!

The SE trim ups the ante with turn signals integrated into the mirrors, 14-inch alloy wheels, a specific instrument cluster, a six-way adjustable power front seat, automatic A/C, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, gloss black trim, a screen-based audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, a multi-function steering wheel, a push-button ignition, and cruise control.

Finally, the GT gets HID headlights, 15-inch alloys, heated front seats, and more gloss black trim in the cabin.

Several option packages are available. Notably, the Protection Package adds mud flaps and scuff plates, while the Cargo Package brings a cargo mat and a cargo net.

Occupant Safety
Every Mirage regardless of trim level comes standard with front, side, and curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag. The list of standard features also includes traction and stability control systems, and brake assist.

Key competitors
Size-wise, the Mirage's closest rival is the Chevrolet Spark, which offers more cargo space but is much less fuel efficient that the Mitsu. Those willing to step up to slightly larger, more expensive rides can also consider the roomy Honda Fit and the stylish Kia Rio.