Low Cost Transportation
Back in September 2014 Clean Fleet Report reviewed the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES Hatchback and suggested it could be an option in the very competitive subcompact and small car segments if buyers were looking primarily at price. Mitsubishi is now offering the all-new 2017 Mirage G4, which brings with it the same appeal for budget-constrained new car buyers who are looking for a compact sedan instead of a hatchback.
The front-wheel drive Mirage G4 SE is powered by a 1.2-liter, DOHC, 12-valve, inline three-cylinder engine producing 78 hp through the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), delivering an EPA mpg rating of 35 city/42 highway/37 combined. A five-speed manual is standard on the ES base model (but unavailable on the SE which we tested) and drops the fuel economy to 33/40/35.
The 87-octane gasoline-powered three-cylinder engine has a slight diesel sound on start and idle, which increases during hard acceleration. The pulling power at any speed was exactly what would be expected with only 74 lb-ft of torque.
In 671 miles of 80-percent highway/20-percent city driving, the CVT-equipped Clean Fleet Report Mirage G4 SE averaged 32.9 mpg, which is four miles per gallon below the EPA Combined estimate.
So why were we not able to replicate the EPA numbers? We attribute this to running the A/C for almost all of those miles, along with the need to shift the CVT from “Eco” to “Drive S” when trying to make a pass of any type, climbing a grade or needing to accelerate hard for any reason. Therefore, to keep the Mirage G4 moving, it was necessary to keep your foot in it pretty much at all times. But more on this to follow.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Clean Fleet Report’s four-door Mirage weighed in at 2,194 lbs., which is noteworthy as it makes the Mirage G4 SE one of the lightest cars on the road.
Mitsubishi’s CVT technology has improved from the 2014 Mirage Hatchback model we tested, but remains behind the industry leaders Nissan and Honda for smoothness and performance. Concerning performance (a term used loosely), a CVT probably should not be paired with the normally aspirated three-cylinder engine. Around town and when not demanding much of the engine, the CVT is fine. Yes, it gets better fuel economy than the five-speed manual. But, as mentioned earlier, the manual is not available on the SE trim level, which means getting a bit more performance out of the low power/torque engine can’t be enjoyed along with the extra goodies on the SE model.
When testing cars, Clean Fleet Report writers try to manage their expectations. In the case of the Mirage G4, that means not expecting a peppy ride. The slow acceleration felt like we were straining the engine under heavy load. It created a fear the poor little over-stressed three-lunger would see its last breath as we were trying to climb a grade passing an 18-wheeler. Possibly, if the CVT was mated to a more powerful engine, it would show its true abilities. As offered, there is a never-ending awareness of the transmission doing all it can and the engine giving its all. Is there an award we can give the Mirage G4 for how hard it tries to be more than it is?
On the freeway, where you need to take the Mirage to make the most of its EPA-rated 42 mpg, it was even more of an adventure. The little three-banger suffered trying to get up to speed; when there, it’s akin to driving a go-cart—momentum is the key. Passing cars on the freeway takes forethought and some quick distance-to-speed calculations. The speedometer pegs-out at 140 mph, but when I got it to 70, I knew I had pushed it far enough for my comfort. The top speed—140—is unthinkable!
Handling is an interesting discussion. Corner handling around town, at posted speeds and not pushing any limits, was excellent. It was especially good negotiating parking lots, parallel parking
and other tight maneuver areas. The 2017 Mirage G4 probably has one of the best turning radius of any car tested by Clean Fleet Report, so getting around in the city is a thing of beauty. Combined with the large trunk and a sizable back seat that easily can hold two child seats, the Mirage shows its real strength as a nifty little grocery-getter or for running the kids to school or their other activities.
However, the ease the electrically power-assisted steering showed in-town made open road driving seem at times as if the car was barely connected to the road. Steering feel was missing and numb, and the all-important road feel was nearly non-existent. When driving 70 mph on Southern California freeways it was necessary to always pay close attention to what the car was doing, trying to anticipate its next move. SoCal freeways are primarily concrete and have been grooved to disperse water, so at freeway speeds the Mirage G4 will track in any direction the road offers, which means it tends to wander. On sweeping corners the car will push to the outer front tire and the car will begin to exhibit body roll, which is amplified by the Mirage’s high center of gravity. Concentration is required at freeway speeds, with little time to relax; it was more like managing the car as opposed to driving it.
If you were thinking of getting a little bit sporty, such as something as common as going 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit on a freeway cloverleaf onramp, the Mirage was a handful. The front struts and rear torsion beam suspension did not prevent the front drive Mirage from pushing and diving. Even with the 175/55R15 low-rolling-resistance tires (standard on the upgraded SE trim level (14-inch tires are standard), it became apparent that adhering to the speed limit was a good idea.
One of the things Clean Fleet Report looks for is how easy a car is to drive. There are many factors that come into play when determining our opinion, but experience driving hundreds of new cars over the years is a major factor. The Mirage G4 SE is not an easy car to drive at freeway speeds, and in rain or snow could really be a handful—a true adventure.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage G4 is all-new for 2017. It offers a tall stance and a long wheelbase that results in very good passenger room and a good size trunk. There is nothing unique or distinguishable about the car’s design, but at the same time there is nothing objectionable about it. Clean Fleet Report’s test vehicle came with the SE trim package that added dark chrome 15-inch alloy wheels, which were a nice touch. The bottom line is that if you buy a Mirage G4, you will not be doing so to draw attention.
Driving Experience: Interior
While the Mirage cruised along nicely at a steady 65 mph, you really would not want to do it for long. The driver and front passenger seats were heated and soft, but the manual adjustments did
not include lumbar support, resulting in me finding only a marginally comfortable seating position. Exiting the car after one hour on the freeway, I needed to do some stretching as lower back and thigh support is minimal (the two biggest factors in driver fatigue). The rear bench seat did fit three adults, with two being far more realistic. It offered very good head and legroom, but not much more support than the front buckets. The Mirage cabin noise level remains consistently noticeable at freeway speeds, so a daily commute would not be a highlight of anyone’s life.
The dash and center stack, with a piano black panel and silver trim accents, was very easy to use. It has an old-school look and feel, including a combination of knobs, switches and buttons. A touchscreen display with a rearview camera came standard on the SE trim package. Missing, but available as a $180 option, is a center console armrest, which should have been included. Driving any amount of distance with your right arm dangling is not a good thing.
The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 SE Clean Fleet Report was testing had a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio, cruise control and hands-free phone buttons. The car also had keyless access with an engine start/stop button, power windows, door locks and mirrors, A/C with automatic climate control and a micron filter, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, carpeted floor mats, a 12V power outlet and cup holders, front and rear. Curiously, there is only one sun visor vanity mirror and it is located on the driver’s side, which was a bit frustrating for my passenger/wife. Also unique to the Mirage is that the rear seatback does not fold flat—or at all. This is too bad as the trunk is spacious and the additional storage area gained by a folded seatback would be a huge bonus to potential owners.
The infotainment (information and entertainment) system was managed through an 8.5-inch color touchscreen featuring a sound system with four speakers, 100 watt AM/FM/CD/MP3/DVD Display player with an Aux-in jack, USB port and iPhone connectivity. It came with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which was a nice touch considering you cannot get SiriusXM. The voice command worked well for the Bluetooth phone, but something we had never come across before was that our mobile phone needed to be re-paired after the car had been turned off. On all other cars we have tested you can turn off the car at night, come back 10 hours later, and the phone will reconnect automatically.
Safety and Convenience
The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 safety and convenience features include seven airbags, outside mirror turn indicators, a tire pressure monitoring system, engine immobilizer, anti-theft security alarm, fog lamps and halogen headlights, stability and traction control, hill start assist, ABS with electronic brake distribution and brake assist.
Pricing and Warranties
Base pricing for the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4:
ES Manual $13,995
ES CVT $15,195
SE CVT $16,995
There are several options that can be ordered separately that will affect the final price.
The 2017 Mirage G4 SE model we were driving had a MSRP of $16,995.
All prices do not include the $835 destination charge.
The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 comes with these warranties:
- Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
- New Vehicle (fully transferable) – Three years/36,000 miles
- Anti-Corrosion Perforation – Seven years/100,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance – Five years/Unlimited Miles
Observations: 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 SE
Mitsubishi says the 2017 Mirage G4 is a “small car for big city life” and a “value equation…of top fuel economy, attractive pricing and one of the best new car warranties.” Clean Fleet Report agrees completely that the Mirage is good, basic transportation if you spend the majority of your time driving in a city or small town.
If this is your driving pattern and lifestyle, then the subcompact four-door sedan Mirage G4 should be on your shopping list. It does deliver excellent fuel economy and seating for five at a very competitive price.
But, if you drive freeways for long stretches at 65-70 mph, then the Mirage will not provide much fun or confidence.
Within the small car or subcompact category, there are several vehicles to choose from that may cost a bit more and get a few less miles per gallon, but are worth consideration as their overall driving attributes are better than the Mirage G4. This would include the Scion iM (soon to be Toyota iM), Honda Fit, Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta and Nissan Versa.
Right now the Mirage is Mitsubishi’s No. 2 selling vehicle, behind their Outlander Sport, which is a SUV. The 2017 Mirage G4 is a good start in the subcompact category for Mitsubishi to gain shopping and buying consideration from consumers. With a bit more development, the Mirage G4 can become a competent car both in town and on the freeway and might gain even more traction with car buyers.
Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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