What's New for 1996
Four colors debut, and the Preferred Equipment Packages are revised a bit.
This is one of the best kept secrets in the subcompact class, in LS trim. The Mirage LS Coupe is relatively inexpensive, fast, reliable and undeniably attractive (except for the funny bumper blisters on the tail). Think about this: the car performs as well as a Dodge Neon, costs just over $15,000 with every option on it, and is blessed with a shape that won't pass its expiration date soon. It has dual airbags, split-fold rear seats, alloy wheels, a powerful little 1.8-liter engine, and a bunch of other stuff most people don't expect on a car of this caliber. A CD player is optional, as is air conditioning and an automatic transmission. But incredibly, what it doesn't have, even as an option, is antilock brakes. Mitsubishi, it's 1996. General Motors has been equipping such agrarian implements as the Cavalier and Beretta with standard ABS since 1991. Get with the program.
In contrast, the Mirage S is powered by a weak 1.5-liter engine that puts out 92 horsepower. Options on the S are limited; you can get a cassette or CD player, air conditioning, floor mats, mud guards, trim rings and a cargo net. That's all folks. Fully loaded, the Mirage S rolls out the door at $13,500. That's about the same price as an Escort LX with the Sport Appearance package, or a Cavalier coupe with a decent amount of equipment and standard ABS, or a Neon Highline, after rebates. Amazing what the strong yen can do to the prices of cars built in Japan.
We doubt the Mirage will ever crack the best-seller lists in the United States, but frugal-minded performance buyers who want a car with some exclusivity might find merit in this Mitsubishi. The difference in price between a S model Mirage and a LS model Mirage is about $3,000. That $3,000 buys the difference between a bare bones basic econobox and a speedy, well-equipped sport coupe. We suggest you spend the extra green for the LS.