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Opinions on the new Mitsubishi Mirage econo car?

I thought I didn’t need a 6th speed until I bought a 5 speed Ford Focus. It might be that I am spoiled by the newer automatics, but the Focus was revving high in the 5th anywhere north of 65 MPH. If would also start to suffer in the gas mileage area. If I buy a manual again, it is either going to be a 6 spd or at least I will make sure to take it to 80 MPH in the 5th to see how it feels.

I have heard that the 6 speed manuals don’t have a taller gear. It is just that the gear ratio spacing is closer together. I would love it if they had a 6 speed where the first 5 gears were like the ratios in a 5 speed and then the 6th was an ultra economy gear. This is why the automatics are getting better mileage these days. The top gears are taller than the top gear in the manuals. There was a recent discussion about this. I guess R&D and design is not in the manuals these days. Even high end supercars are going away from manuals (sad).

The auto in this is a CVT. I am not sure how I would feel about that in such a cheap car. Would it hold up? I don’t know. At least the manual would stand a chance. I also like driving them. I know it might not be the most economical. I guess I could justify this by saying the initial cost is quite a bit less.

Yes, the older Mitsubishis smoked the competition, literally. I can’t recall how many I would be behind complaining about their polluting clouds of blue oil smoke. This is one reason I would be hesitant to buy one, especially one so cheap. Would it be an oil burner 30,000 miles down the road? I would hope they worked on the problems and solved this issue. I can understand it if the owner neglected them but this was inherent in their design.

The dealer network is also one of my biggest concerns. Servicing them would require a 100 mile trip. We have Ford, Chevy, Nissan, Chrysler, and Kia locally. Ford makes the Fiesta, Chevy makes the Spark, Dodge makes the Dart, Kia makes the Rio, and I am not sure what the Nissan makes in this segment. I would be hard pressed to consider a Dart. I have never been a Chrysler fan. I could be talked into one if someone had convincing evidence that they were made well but it seems that this is one company that always messes things up. Any of the other brands listed are something I would definitely consider, plus they are all local.

I probably wouldn’t remove the AC parts but might not use it unless really needed. I guess the extra weight would sap some mileage but wouldn’t want to tear into a part that worked fine just to sell the parts. I agree this is a bad idea, plus it can get pretty hot here at times.

The idea of things I like easy to service are the more common maintenance and repair items. I don’t want changing the serpentine belt or battery to be a huge deal. A few bolts/tensioner are all that should be involved and they should be right there easy to access. Oil changes shouldn’t involve removing a ton of covers or other odd things. Accessing parts that might fail after an extended period shouldn’t be the end of the world. Alternators, thermostats, water pumps, radiator hoses, etc. shouldn’t be an all day job removing half the engine bay to access them. Brakes should be relatively easy to service without special tools. Spark plugs should be right there and easy to access.

How is direct injection? I know it brings more power and economy but there were some concerns about it earlier. I guess deposits can gun it up or something? I don’t remember the exact concerns but there were some. Maybe they weren’t really too valid. I noticed that the Kia Rio brings quite a bit more power with only a small sacrifice in economy. It also has a 6 speed manual which bring no penalty in MPG compared to the auto.

I don’t care if special fluids are required. Often these fluids are better for the task even if more expensive. Synthetic oil doesn’t bother me. I know it costs more but I use it in just about everything.

Yes, having the fanciest or fastest doesn’t really matter to me. Good reliability does. I sometimes see friends and relatives fighting with the electronic entertainment/navigation systems that they paid extra for and my opinion is that I would pay extra not to have them!

Here is another review. They realize it is a cheap car and review it as such.

I wonder how the rust situation would be with only primer in some of the hidden recesses of the body. That is the one thing that kills the Geos. The rust protection was an afterthought at best. The replacement engine in my car was a used one that was obviously well cared for. The problem is that the donor car broke along a structural member while driving because of rust. So the mechanicals were still great but not the body.

Re: Direct injection

From what I understand, the problem is that the intake valves crud up more. So they need to be serviced once in a while to de-crud them. W/DI, the only thing flowing past the intake valves is air. W/port injection , gasoline flows past the intake valves along w/the air, and that apparently keeps the valve surfaces cleaner.

I really like the 6 speed in my car. That extra drop in engine speed makes a world of difference in mileage. Plus, it’s still quite happy in 5th if you want to keep the rpms up a bit in case you want some throttle response. A downshift to 4th and a stab of the throttle, and the tubo really kicks the motor in the butt. There’s more than enough to get you into plenty of speed ticket trouble. The thing I like most about my Cruze is that Chevy finally figured out that people who want decent mileage aren’t neccessarily willing to drive a cheap, tinny, stripped down econo-box to get it. I’ve driven enough of those in my lifetime. I wanted something a little nicer this time around.

Don’t forget that Mitsubishi is circling the bowl as there was talk recently (as there was several years ago) that they might pull out of the USA.

Also the quality has never been that good.

IMO, go with a Chevy Spark or whatever Ford offers.

Mitsubishi has been weird in the quality department. Some stuff has sucked, and some stuff has been amazing. I’d drive an EVO with no fear - those things are tanks. On the other hand, the 2nd gen Eclipse had a bad habit of destroying its engines via crankshaft walk, thus ruining an otherwise perfect car.

The motors they made for the Caravan were stellar, as were the trucks they made in the 80’s/90’s. I have an 88 pickup and the thing just will not die, and it was neglected for the first 200,000 miles before I got hold of it.

“I’d drive an EVO with no fear - those things are tanks”

…and that one outstanding Mitsubishi model is being discontinued in The US!

I wouldn’t want to be one of the few remaining Mitsu dealers in The US, as there is very little for them to sell. IIRC, their total product line in the US is the so-so Outlander, the made-for-Third World Countries Mirage, the Lancer, and that bizarre-looking electric car.

As I’ve said previously in a different thread, new-ish Mitsubishis are so rare in my neck of the woods that I actually see more Maseratis and Porsches on the road than I see Mitsubishis. For a manufacturer that depends on volume, rather than a huge profit margin per car, that can’t be good…

I wonder if Mitsubishi sells more vehicles in certain geographic regions than other regions? Maybe they are more popular on the West Coast, for instance. I don’t know; it’s just a suggestion.

I don’t know about now, but their trucks were quite popular in the middle east and their sedans weren’t bad either. I know Mitsu is a very big conglomerate and cars are the smaller portion of their productions.


and that one outstanding Mitsubishi model is being discontinued in The US!

Yeah I know. And IMO that’s incredibly stupid. It’s a halo car that makes the rest of their cars look better just for having the same nameplate. Keep the thing around for marketing purposes if nothing else.


I wonder if Mitsubishi sells more vehicles in certain geographic regions than other regions? Maybe they are more popular on the West Coast, for instance. I don’t know; it’s just a suggestion.

When I inspected vehicles in central Illinois (Mitsu builds cars in Normal IL) the Bloomington/Normal area for obvious reasons was saturated with Mitsubishis. Outside of that here in the Midwest I can go months and not see a Mitsubishi.

I spotted a Mitsubishi Evolution this week and it made me wonder what happened to all the Evos and Subaru WRXs. Ten years ago they were a common sight on the roads here. I don’t think many Evolutions are sold now. I suspect this fad has run its course much like the $40,000 turbo cars of the 1990’s (3000GT, Supra and 300ZX).

Three years ago a person could stand on the sidewalk of a busy street here and count the Smart cars passing by, now I might see one a day. This fad came and went quickly.

“Three years ago a person could stand on the sidewalk of a busy street here and count the Smart cars passing by, now I might see one a day.”

In my area, I might see one Smart car in a 2-3 week period.
Even Fiat 500s outnumber so-called Smart cars around here!

It sounds like the disadvantages to Mitsubishi and this car in general are too large for me to consider. I recently looked at the Kia Rio online. It is the same price or a tiny bit more. It comes with a 6 speed manual in the base model. It has DOUBLE the horsepower of the Mirage and only a few MPG penalty. It also has a nice long warranty and seems to be a much better cheap little car than the Mirage, especially for the money. If the Mirage was $7000, that might be a different story but there are many drawbacks for just a few extra MPG as stated here. There might be others better than the Rio too like the Fiesta, Versa, Spark, or Dart.

The other concern is the dealer network. Sure it has a long warranty but the dealers are all at least 100 miles from me. Also, is this going to be like Suzuki and go belly up? My GF has a Suzuki and it isn’t a real Suzuki but a rebadged Daewoo sold under the Suzuki name. It isn’t a terrible car but certainly not a great one either. She has had all the regular issues that her model of car has. None are major but they add up. The first order of business after we started dating was changing the timing belt and all associated components as they are notorious for breaking and trashing the engine. There is no real dealer network, only warranty centers, and finding parts can be a pain. I assume Mitsubishi may be in the same boat all too soon.

The Evo was a fun car and I agree it was dumb to get rid of it. Yes, these as well as the Impreza were all the rage back 10 years ago or so. There is actually a rally scene around here so I see them from time to time. Several of the college students race and have some pretty tricked out ones setup for rallying.

I don’t understand the Smart Car either. The mileage isn’t anything special for an oversized golf cart and it isn’t that cheap. Some other small car seems like a much better choice. I have seen the Kia Rio go on sale cheap and I don’t think it is a bad car. Lots of people around here get them for commuting and they seem to hold up well at high miles.

My GF also wouldn’t want another car with a timing belt. Changing them isn’t a big deal for me but she things making a car with a part that if it breaks will trash the engine is a problem. The Geo Metro has a timing belt but is non-interference. I broke one driving and have changed several others now. They take like an hour to do once you get them down. Of course not all cars are quite that simple.

Nice research.

I agree that the Kia might be a better bet altogether. The Korean makers seem to be staying for now. A few hundred Dollars in savings today might cost you more down the road. Also, life is too short to live on 3 cylinders IMHO; I prefer 6 or 8, but settled on 4 for now :slight_smile:

cwatkins, have you looked at or driven any of these cars yet? You should take them out for a spin, that ought to narrow down your list pretty quickly.

One thing about the Mirage is that the base DE does not have a seat height adjuster, whereas the ES does. (I’m sure the Metro doesn’t have one either, but personally I can’t live without that feature.)

Since you have a Nissan dealer in your area, you might want to check out the Versa Note hatchback, which IMO is a pretty sharp looking design, much nicer than the sedan. It also seats four adults in reasonable comfort for a small car. I’ve read that the Versa’s interior feels rather cheap, however.

I like the aesthetics of the Kia Rio. Relatively sophisticated styling and a higher grade of material quality inside than its competitors. You also get a proper automatic transmission instead of a CVT that you’d find in the Mirage and Versa Note. The Rio’s fuel economy is a bit less than that of the Mirage and Versa Note, but it’s still good in absolute terms. Last but not least, the Rio has been in production for several years now, so Kia should have knocked out all the bugs in the design and assembly process by now.

Good luck and let us know how things progress.

"I don't understand the Smart Car either. The mileage isn't anything special for an oversized golf cart and it isn't that cheap. Some other small car seems like a much better choice."

…and the required fuel for the Smart car (at least in The US) is premium/high-test gas. How insane is that for a tiny so-called economy car?

Then, you also have the functioning of the dual-clutch transmission that is said to induce whiplash every time that it shifts.

I don’t think the Smart was ever intended to be a high MPG wonder. It was intended to be able to easily navigate the insanely narrow cart tracks that pass as streets in parts of Europe. It’s really, really good at that.

It makes very little sense in the USA.

I haven’t really started looking yet. It may be a while before I get serious, but when I do, I will either start test driving a few new models and then decide if I want new or a couple years old. I really like the long warranty on the Kia Rio. Does it transfer to another owner though?

Do these warranties cover just stuff like the engine and transmission or also suspension components? I do lots of gravel road driving and know I will be wearing out ball joints, tie rod ends, and the like quicker than the average driver.

My parents had a Versa hatchback as a rental car and said it was a decent car. They have an Acura and Mercedes so are not the type to normally like a cheap car but they said it was a good rental and easy to load/unload luggage in the hatch.

No, the Metro doesn’t have a seat height adjustment. I guess I am about average height so this works fine for me. One of the stereotypes back when the Metro and Festiva were popular was that everyone getting out of one was big and usually obese. Obviously larger people can fit in them too.