It's easy to let all the little stresses of everyday life pile up and turn into a massive, unmanageable mess. You eventually need to take a break to put everything back together. Go on vacation. Regroup. Recharge. That's exactly what Mitsubishi did with the Mirage subcompact hatchback. Although the Mirage quickly became the second best-selling vehicle in Mitsubishi's lineup when it was introduced in 2014, sales paled in comparison to rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Sonic. A bargain-basement interior and a punishing ride didn't help. It was time for a rethink. And after a year on hiatus, the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage returns with a list of new upgrades that hopefully makes it more competitive.
The most obvious revisions are the more muscular looking front and rear bumpers and more modern headlights and taillights. Inside, there's an increased use of glossy black trim, an attractive new steering wheel, and gray cloth upholstery to replace the purple surfaces that were an eyesore on the 2015 model. One of the few highlights of the previous Mirage was the high number of technology features, and this reworked version continues that trend with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Mechanical upgrades include revised suspension tuning, larger brakes all around, hill-start assist for cars equipped with the manual transmission and a slight power bump, from 74 to 78 horsepower.
Even with the Mirage's substantial revisions for 2017, it's a difficult car to fall in love with. Competing subcompacts are simply more refined and enjoyable to drive. If price is a commanding factor, the 2017 Chevrolet Spark is comparable to the Mirage and is more tech-heavy. If your budget is a little higher, you should also consider the roomy Honda Fit, sporty Ford Fiesta, and versatile Chevrolet Sonic. The Mirage isn't as bad as it once was, but the reality is that rivals are still more complete cars.
Standard safety features for the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage include four-wheel antilock brakes (front discs, rear drums), front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and traction and stability control. A rearview camera is standard on the SE and GT, while front and rear parking sensors are optional on all trim levels.
We haven't tested a 2017 model with the upgraded brakes, but in prior Edmunds brake testing a 2015 Mirage came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet. This is an average distance for a car in this class.
In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Mirage received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. The Mirage's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts. In that agency's small-overlap frontal-offset test, however, the Mirage received the lowest score of "Poor." In the most recently available government tests available as of this writing, the Mirage earned four-of-five possible stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage is a small, four-door, five-passenger hatchback offered in three trim levels: ES, SE and GT.
Standard features for the base Mirage ES trim include 14-inch steel wheels, a rear spoiler, automatic headlights, LED taillights, full power accessories, a tilt-only steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seats and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and USB and auxiliary audio inputs.
The Mirage SE adds alloy wheels, foglights, a rearview camera, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls) and shift knob, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and upgraded interior accents.
If you go with the range-topping GT you'll get 15-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights and heated front seats.
There are several options packages available on all trims. The Park Assist package adds front and rear parking sensors. The Rockford Fosgate Premium Audio package adds a six-speaker audio system. Other options include various chrome exterior accents, added interior lighting and utility items like cargo nets and mud flaps.
Powering the front-wheel-drive 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage is a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 78 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque. The ES and SE trim levels give you the choice between a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT, while the GT is exclusively available with the CVT.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the Mirage with the five-speed manual is 36 mpg combined (33 mpg city/41 mpg highway). With the CVT, the estimates are even higher at 39 mpg combined (37 city/43 highway), which is impressive for a non-hybrid vehicle.
While we haven't yet tested a Mirage with the slightly more powerful engine, we don't expect performance numbers to change much from the previous iteration. In Edmunds performance testing, a 2015 Mirage with the CVT went from zero to 60 mph in 11.7 seconds, a slow time even for a subcompact car.
Thanks to a small turning circle and light-effort steering, the Mitsubishi Mirage is easy to maneuver in dense urban settings. On the highway, though, the little car becomes fidgety and demands more of the driver's attention. We've yet to test the 2017 model, but in our prior testing we observed that the Mirage rides harshly over bumpy pavement, and handling isn't what we'd call confident or secure. Rival subcompact cars should far surpass the Mitsubishi in these areas.
Although the three-cylinder engine is certainly fuel-efficient, acceleration is quite slow and you'll need to plan well ahead for passing maneuvers on the highway. Even more annoying than the sluggish performance is the excessive noise from the engine compartment. Even at low speeds, the three-cylinder makes a considerable racket. The CVT often adds to the mayhem, as the slightest increase in accelerator pedal pressure results in a dramatic increase in engine rpm.
Although its materials quality has been improved for 2017, the Mirage still doesn't match up to the standards in this segment. Most surfaces are hard plastic and not particularly pleasant to touch or look at. On a positive note, all the essential controls are easily accessible and simple to use. The lack of a telescoping steering wheel might make it a little difficult for some drivers to get comfortable behind the wheel, but taller folks should find enough head- and legroom. On longer drives, the hard door armrests and the lack of a front center armrest reduce driver comfort.
In the rear, headroom and shoulder room are limited, and average-size adults will likely find the quarters cramped. In addition, the rear bench is quite flat, with minimal cushioning. With the rear seats in place, the Mirage offers a respectable 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space. With the seats folded down, capacity increases to 47 cubic feet: a good number for this class.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.