Opinions on the new Mitsubishi Mirage econo car?


#1

I have one of the Geo Metros which is considered by many the holy grail of economy cars. It is simple yet gets hybrid mileage.

Several of the members on the forum for those cars have “upgraded” to the new Mitsubishi Mirage. The general consensus seems to be that this is the only car comparable to the Metro in mileage that is not a hybrid and also cheap to purchase new. One guy is a courier/delivery driver. The company pays you more mileage if you have a newer car as they want their appearance to be reflected by a newer car, not a beatup Geo. Well, this is somewhat of a hack of the system. He has a new car that gets great mileage and says it will be paid for interest included at like 44,000 miles just on the mileage reimbursement alone.

I was curious if anyone has any experience with these? Are they reliable and easy to work on? The members of the Metro forum indicate that although they are more modern and thus more complex, they are relatively easy to repair compared to most modern cars. Mitsubishi hasn’t always had a great reputation for durability and was curious if this has changed much. They are new and have a warranty plus modern safety features that are unheard of in a Metro. They also still offer a manual transmission or an optional CVT. I would probably still opt for the manual as I like them and this will encourage car makers to keep making them at a time when they are mostly being discontinued.

I have read some reviews that say the materials inside are cheap. Well it is one of the cheapest cars for sale so you shouldn’t expect a Lincoln or Lexus interior.

I was curious if anyone has some long-term data on these cars? Do they fall apart or are they pretty decent for the money. They are one of the cheapest new cars out there and have quite a few safety features for a car of this size and economy. Would something else such as the Kia Rio be a better bet in this segment? I know those seem to be clearanced at the end of each year.


#2

Interesting. Just curious. How much are they going for, new? I’m talking for the base model, manual transmission. How many speeds in the manual xmission, 5 or 6? Does AC come with it always, or is AC an extra-cost option? Oh, and what are the EPA mpg numbers?


#3

Two things-Geo metro is the holy grail of economy cars, that is a joke, right!–George the Mitsubishi web site will answer all those questions and have 360 degree views.


#4

AC is standard. See http://www.mitsubishicars.com/mirage MSRP is just under $13000 for the DE base model.

The manual is only a 5 speed but that is still good. I understand if you drive these right, the mileage is a better than EPA spec by a significant amount.

I have the Metro for the time being. MY girlfriend had a Ford Festiva and regrets getting rid of it. We have talked about the Kia Rio, the Mirage, and a couple other small cars like the Chevy Spark.


#5

People modifying Geo Metros with different cam profiles, taller geared transmissions, modified ECMs, etc. have gotten in excess of 70 MPG. Plus the cars were cheap to start with. It might not be the best option out there but it certainly isn’t a “joke” when it comes to economy either.


#6

I’m sure the Mirage is a move up from the Metro…


#7

I have no doubt the Mirage is safer and has more creature comforts than the Metro. I was wondering if it holds up long term. Two things killed the Metro. Rust proofing was almost non-existent on these cars so you had to treat them yourself to keep them going, otherwise they would “dissolve” in water and salt. For this reason Metros from Arizona and similar are desired because they aren’t rusted.

The other thing that killed the Metro was owner neglect. A lot of people who bought them new were barely able to pay for the car and had nothing left over to do the required maintenance. The little engines sludge up easily if neglected and burned valves as well as stuck rings are common. The engines hold up well if cared for but are not one of the more forgiving models to neglect like others out there that are a little more forgiving. I run a European spec synthetic in mine to keep the insides clean. Those who have been running these cars far longer than me have found that this works wonders in keeping the engines healthy over the long haul.

One of the reasons economy cars lose value faster than average is because of this owner neglect. It isn’t that they are bad cars but if you get one that hasn’t had the oil changed, it is going to give you problems. This is more of a concern with buying any used economy car vs. a more expensive model.

The Metro is nothing fancy but my basic stock model gets 50+ mpg without me trying, doesn’t burn oil, and always gets me to where I need to go. A lot of my jobs involve 100+ mile trips pretty routinely and with being able to write off mileage, I want to have a car that gets high mileage. I have pickup trucks for when large equipment is needed but usually just need myself and a few basic tools.


#8

How about other cars in the segment? Chevy Spark, Kia Rio, etc.???


#9

The Mirage is advertised as “under $10,000” like the Nissan Micra and the old Hyundai Accent.

For that you get the bare car but a very long powertrain warranty.

Consumer Reports tested the Mirage and found it had too many shortcomings to recommend it. But for courier service it could make you real money.


#10

Yeah, I know it is cheap so won’t be a plush wonder inside. What do you really expect for this price? Too many people expect way too much from something that is just an inexpensive economy car. The long powertrain warranty is appealing but Kia also has this with their Rio.

Mitsubishi hasn’t always been the pinnacle of durability/reliability. Anyone here have any experience with more recent models? Have they improved? Kia seems to have a pretty good reputation overall plus there is a dealer locally where Mitsubishi is 100 miles away in all directions.

A lot of my driving is on pretty rough roads. The little Geo takes it in stride although I will say I have to replace suspension components more often than normal. Most are quite easy and I have lifetime warranty parts so am not too worried. Lots of mileage in rural areas beats up a car pretty good. This is another reason for not opting for a more expensive car. Sure, you could take a pickup truck but when 100 of the miles are on highway and the last 5 are on rough gravel roads, I would burn a lot more fuel.


#11

If I were looking to buy a relatively inexpensive car that still got good fuel economy (by my standards), I’d look at the Fiesta ST, the Golf (gas turbo), or the Mazda 3. Each had adequate power, will get around 35-39 MPG on the highway, and has the modern comforts one expects in a modern car. Like the Metro, the Mirage makes too many concessions in exchange for better fuel economy for my tastes.


#12

I see. The Metro is rather barebones for sure. There is no glamorizing it except for its incredible economy and simplicity. I actually love the little car but it is a metal box on wheels! There is no denying that. I think the reason the Mirage has come up so much on the Metro forum IS that it is this way. People don’t want all the other stuff and this is one of the few offerings like this.

Driving a car with crank windows and such doesn’t bother me. All I care about is AC and a radio. I believe even the most basic models of this have MP3 integration which would be important for me. Even if not, an aftermarket radio with installation kit is $100 for one that is somewhat decent. I find Kenwood does a good job in this price range.

I also like the fact that it still offers a manual transmission. The Kia Rio did last I checked. These small economy cars seem to be one place the manual is still alive and well so I suspect most of the other suggested offerings would have it too.

Either way, I am in no big hurry but figure there is a time when I either get tired of the Metro or the repairs/parts become impossible to find. It would probably be a lot worse if it wasn’t for the Suzuki Swift tuner crowd keeping so many going. I will look at all options seriously when the time comes.

The electronics I work on are usually small enough to take with me or are serviced onsite. Servicing onsite applies to some smaller items but certainly applies to the big ones like LED signs which take a crane to install. I usually just need a small board or LED panel (those things are an array of many panels), some tools, and myself. Driving a small car for these services makes sense from an economy standpoint.

I used to offer free recycling for most older electronics so would find my back hatch and backseat packed full of junk. Recycling of CRT devices has started to cost so I no longer take them free. This has cut down on how much I haul a great deal. There is a pile of junk outside and out of view that gets hauled in once it fills a pickup bed.


#13

I’ve got a friend who drove one for an extended test drive. He liked the level of comfort/amenities for the price. He hated the acceleration, but he’s used to much more expensive and powerful (often modified) cars, so that colored it a bit. He also didn’t like the handling through the twisties at speed, but people who buy this car probably aren’t looking to take it on a fast cruise through back roads.

His final judgment was that it’s a good little car for people who want cheap transportation that sips gas and who don’t care about luxury features or being able to keep up with anything on the road. You will be out-accelerated by pretty much everything except school buses and loaded semis. This doesn’t sound like a big problem, but when you’re trying to merge onto a 70mph interstate with people going 20 over barreling up behind you, having a car with a modicum of guts is kind of nice.

I can see why your Metro people are attracted to the car. It will probably turn very similar numbers performance and fuel economy-wise as your Metros. Personally, it’s too slow for me - it’s significantly slower in acceleration than the Hyundai Veloster, which itself is almost too slow for me. :wink:


#14

That sounds like a pretty fair review. The car is what it is, not a sports or luxury car.

Yes, you are right. The Metro people complain that there isn’t such a thing as a basic economy car anymore. I guess that is why this car has come up more often than many of the others in this category. Another one which is a pipe dream if you ask me is the Elio. The early prototypes used many Metro components including the engine, transmission, and interior parts right out of a 1992 car. It seems this company keeps making promises but never delivers.

The other thing that is highly appealing about the Metro is the fact I could change the ENGINE on the side of the road with a basic metric tool kit and a jack if I had to. I did it this way in my front yard once. The engine is light enough to pickup without a hoist. When you put it back in, you set a jack below and place a piece of wood so as not to gash the oil pan. You just raise and lower the jack to line it up with the bellhousing and bolt them together! These cars are EXTREMELY simple and easy to work on compared to anything else I have seen, minus a VW bug or 1970’s pickup truck. I would doubt any modern car would be this way.

If I lived in the city, the lack of power would probably be an issue. Where I am now it isn’t a huge deal.


#15

The EPA ratings are 37 city/44 highway/40 average for the automatic and 34/42/37 for the manual transmission. If mileage is a top concern, you might consider the automatic. The difference shouldn’t be a lot of money since both have excellent fuel economy, but if you want the best mileage, the auto has it.


#16

Their older generation engines were know to be burning oil more than the competition. I think a Base model Ford Fiesta might be pretty close in price and probably less operating cost, since Mitsu parts are now mostly dealer only and the dealership network is not as good.


#17

I’d prefer a 5 speed to a 6 speed manual myself. Less shifting to do when taking a run to 7-11 for a Big Gulp, and the gear box is likely more robust, as the individual gear-parts can be bigger with a 5 speed. The designers have to reduce the size of everything in a 6 speed to fit it into the same size gear box.

I’m not so keen on the idea of AC being mandated. I’d look the other way on that though, if I could remove the works easily and sell it for the parts.

CWatkin … you seem to share some of my sensibilities, car-wise. Especially the importance of new car’s have good mpg, being reliable, and easily serviceable by a driveway diy’er. You’re willing to compromise a bit in the 0-60 times I presume, for better mpg. It’s true that most car buyers don’t care about all that, but some of us do it seems.

Just curious about the easy-to-service aspect, what are the things you look for in the new car’s design that makes it easy to service? Access to the factory service manual info? Brake designs that make replacing the pads a rotors a simple job? ECM diagnostic software that helps with the diagnosis, not just on emissions items, but on common stuff like “fails to crank”?


#18

Remove the air conditioner parts and sell them and void the warranty on a new vehicle. That makes no sense at all.


#19

I’d prefer a 5 speed to a 6 speed manual myself. Less shifting to do when taking a run to 7-11

Unless the 7-11 is in the next town I doubt you’ll get to use all 6 gears. Sixth gear usually isn’t useful at city speeds.


#20

With an automatic there is even less shifting.