The 40+ MPG Low-Cost Transportation King
Every car, SUV and truck is designed and built for a reason, and buying one to not do what it was intended to do is wrong in so many ways. The right reasons to own a 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage, either the hatchback or sedan, are very clear: economical, reliable transportation with a low entry cost to ownership.
The 2022 Mirage is powered by a 1.2-liter inline 3-cylinder engine producing 78 horsepower (hp) and 74 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. The front wheels are turned by the optional Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) delivering an EPA mpg rating of 36 city/43 highway/39 combined. A five-speed manual is standard on the ES base model (but unavailable on the SE which we tested) with a small reduction in fuel economy to 33/41/36.
In 157 miles combined highway and city driving through Southern California, our CVT-equipped Mirage SE hatchback averaged 42.2 mpg, which is a nice bump over the EPA Combined estimate of 39 mpg. Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific and represent the reviewer’s driving experience using the dash gauge computer. Your numbers may differ.
Driving Experience: In Town
Around town, cornering at posted speeds and not pushing any limits was excellent, especially for negotiating parking lots, parallel parking and other tight maneuver areas. The Mirage probably has the best turning radius of any car tested by Clean Fleet Report, so getting around in the city is a thing of beauty. The Mirage hatchback shows its real strength as a nifty little grocery-getter, or for short commutes and running the kids to school or their other activities.
Driving Experience: On the Open Road
Performance expectations need to be managed with the Mirage, as the 78 hp and 74 lb.-ft. of torque deliver a 0-60 mph time of 12.6 seconds. Getting the 2,100-pound Mirage to highway speeds took patience, and a big dose of that “performance expectations” thing. The 87 octane, gasoline-powered 3-cylinder engine has a rough sound upon start and idle, which increased when pushed during hard acceleration.
On the freeway it became apparent that driving the Mirage, like driving a go-cart, was all about momentum. Lifting off the accelerator, it will take some time to spool-up the engine again to regain lost speed. Passing cars on the freeway takes forethought and some quick distance-to-speed calculations. The speedometer reads out to 140 mph, but at 70 I knew that was enough. Plus, 140 on the Bridgestone Ecopia 175/55 low-rolling resistance tires mounted on 15-inch wheels was not a welcome thought. Even worse would be the 14-inch wheels on the base Mirage ES.
The electrically power-assisted steering made turning in-town easy, but it made open road driving seem at times as if the car was barely connected to the road. Steering feel was light and road feel was light. Driving 70 mph on Southern California freeways, it was necessary to always pay close attention to what the car was doing. SoCal freeways are primarily concrete and have been grooved to disperse water, so at freeway speeds the Mirage, at times, would track in any direction the road offers, which means it tends to wander.
It is best to drive the Mirage within its designed limits, which brings us to where it is best to be driven. The Mirage is just fine for in-town errands and short, maybe under 50-mile drives on the highway. The CVT was smooth enough, but mate it to a more powerful engine, and it probably would show its true abilities. As offered, there is a never-ending awareness the transmission is doing all it can and the engine giving its all. The Mirage reminds us of the lesson in the children’s folktale about The Little Engine That Could.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage exterior freshening in 2021 continues to 2022. 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 was painted in Sand Yellow Metallic and came with the SE trim package that included bright 15-inch alloy wheels with black inserts, contrasting red stripes against the black Dynamic Shield grille, tasteful chrome accents, a roof spoiler, wide front and rear bumpers, LED head, fog and daytime running lights and LED tail lights.
Driving Experience: Interior
On our Mirage SE the driver and front passenger seats were covered in fabric and synthetic leather, with an attractive pattern and contrast piping. Both were soft, heated and adjusted manually and delivered a comfort that was just about right for no more than 50 miles of highway driving. Exiting the car after one hour on the freeway, I needed to do some stretching as lower back and thigh support is minimal, which are the two biggest factors in driver fatigue.
The rear bench seat, with an erect sitting position, could fit three small-in-stature adults, with two being far more realistic. The head and legroom was surprisingly good for those up-to six-foot two-inches, but the seat support was no more than the front buckets. The Mirage cabin’s high noise level was noticeable at freeway speeds.
The Mirage SE Clean Fleet Report drove had a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio, cruise control and hands-free phone buttons, keyless access, power windows, door locks and mirrors, A/C with automatic climate control, a micron filter, auto-dimming rearview mirror, carpeted floor mats, 12V power outlet and multiple cup holders in front, with one for the rear passengers. The engine start/stop button is located on the left side of the steering wheel, just like a Porsche. The Mirage rear seat back folds 60/40, but does not lay down to become a completely flat cargo floor, which would be a huge bonus to potential owners.
The dash and center stack, with a piano black panel and chrome trim accents, was easy to use and figure-out. The carbon-pattern on the door armrest panels was a nice touch. We appreciated the simplicity of the interface that included a combination of knobs, switches and buttons. A touchscreen with a rearview camera came standard on the SE trim package as did a driver-side fold down arm rest. Front seat passengers may consider bringing a pillow to support their left arm.
The infotainment system was managed through a 7.0-inch color touchscreen featuring a sound system with four speakers, AM/FM radio with a front USB port and iPhone connectivity. It came with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which was a nice touch considering you cannot get SiriusXM. The voice command worked well for the Bluetooth phone.
Safety and Convenience
The 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage safety systems begin with side curtain, driver-side knee, front seat-mounted, and dual-stage front occupant airbags. Other safety equipment includes forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, hill start assist, anti-lock (ABS) brakes, stability control and lane departure warning.
Body-colored side mirrors with turn indicators, a rear intermittent wiper on the lift gate, a tire pressure monitoring system, engine immobilizer and an anti-theft security alarm round out safety features.
The 2022 Mirage has received a Four Star (out of Five Stars) safety rating by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), and a Good safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The 2022 Mirage comes with these warranties:
- Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
- New Vehicle – Three years/36,000 miles
- Anti-Corrosion Perforation – Seven years/100,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance – Five years/Unlimited miles
The 2022 Mirage Hatchback comes in four models—ES, LE, Black Edition and SE. These are the base prices, excluding options, but including the mandatory $1,045 destination and handling charge.
ES Manual $15,690
ES CVT $17,040
LE CVT $17,640
Black Edition $18,240
SE CVT $18,940
Observations: 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage SE
Mitsubishi says the Mirage is “the perfect vehicle for a customer looking for a new car, while shopping on a budget.” To help these customers get into a new Mirage, versus a used car in unknown condition and which may be difficult to get a loan for, Mitsubishi offers financing, which 90-percent of all new Mirage owners take advantage of.
Clean Fleet Report sees the Mirage filling a necessary and important role. Consumers with low but steady incomes can get into a reliable new car, with a strong national dealer network to stand behind it. There is a place for a car costing under $20,000 when the average price of a new car in 2022 is more than twice that amount.
When we reviewed the 2017 Mirage, Mitsubishi said it 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 agreed then and now.
If you need a small economical city car, go to your local Mitsubishi dealer and see if the Mirage is right for you.
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Story and Photos by John Faulkner.
Our other small car explorations:
Road Test: 2022 Kia Rio S 5-Door Hatchback
Road Test: 2014 Nissan Versa Note
Road Test: 2020 Toyota Yaris Hatchback
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.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at [email protected].