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Although generally a good little car, the dated Mirage is hallucinating if it thinks it can challenge the class leaders.
Sleek styling, quality interior materials, stable handling.
Doesn't quite measure up to competition.
Available Mirage Models
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All 2001 Mirages now have tether anchors for child seats and meet LEV standards. A power sunroof is now available with the coupe's sport package. Sedan buyers can choose from the LS or the new base ES trim model that replaces the DE model. Nothing else has changed but the designation -- John Mellencamp? John Cougar? John Cougar Mellencamp?
Available as a coupe in DE and LS trim levels, and as a sedan in ES and LS levels, the Mirage's main competition are sales favorites like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, as well as Korean contenders like the Kia Sephia and Hyundai Elantra.
The entry-level DE Coupe has a 92-horsepower, 1.5-liter engine mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The ES Sedan comes with a larger 1.8-liter, 113-horsepower engine. This same sedan also has a front stabilizer bar that helps the car move nimbly between potholes and slow-moving traffic, and both the DE Coupe and ES Sedan have a four-wheel independent suspension. Several standard features are part of the DE Coupe and ES Sedan trim level, including tilt steering, remote outside mirrors and intermittent wipers. All LS models, which are meant to appeal to the features-conscious crowd, have the larger 1.8-liter engine, a six-way adjustable driver's seat, rear window defroster, a body-colored grille and body-colored door handles. Other upgrades include alloy wheels, a chrome-tipped exhaust, a stereo with integrated CD controls and for the 2001 LS Sedan, a standard sunroof. We found that Mirage's interior appears to be made of higher-quality material than most cars at this price.If you want your Mirage with some "sport" thrown in, the LS Coupe can be ordered with an optional sport package that includes a rear spoiler, chrome tailpipe extension and side air dams. LS Coupes and all sedans come with air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with CD player, a tachometer and a split folding rear bench seat to access the cargo capacity of 11.5 cubic feet.
Regardless of the specific body style and trim level you order, you can be sure your Mirage won't blend in with the other small cars in the parking lot. Its shape offers more personality than the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, although the funky shape of the Ford Focus, or the elegant Protege, may be more suited to your eclectic tastes.
Generally, we like the Mirage. It's got a good look, a quiet interior, stable road characteristics and comfy seats. But the Kia Sephia is still a better value and the 2001 Elantra looks to be a strong contender in terms of refinement, interior space and overall design. And while the Civic and Corolla may not be as sexy, they do come with legendary reliability at a comparable price. Competition in the small-car segment continues to heat up, and we fear this aging Mirage may be fading.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.