A facelift gives the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage a new look, but does it really do enough to enhance this tiny subcompact hatch the pizzazz it needs to compete in a segment that is essentially a dying breed? Top competitors like the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit have been eliminated in the past few model years, and it is a wonder Mitsubishi has kept the low-selling Mirage hanging around. This year, the cosmetic revisions are limited to the nose and tail end of the vehicle with largely everything else carrying over. Does that do much to attract buyers? See for yourself as we go over what is new, the subcompact hatch style and trim levels, how this vehicle drives, and what to expect in terms of fuel economy. Is the made-over Mirage just that - a mirage?
What's New For 2021?
New for 2021 is a tweaked front and rear fascia. The new front grille looks more like what you get on other Mitsubishis, such as the Eclipse Cross. This is named the "Dynamic Shield" grille, although some buyers might not think it looks that eye-catching. On the tail, the bumpers have been squared off and have L-shaped lights set across the bumper to give the rear end a wider look, but the difference is minimal at best. The wheels - new 15-inchers - do fill in the wheel well area better than the outgoing ones.
Inside the cabin, you will find some new armrests, a sportier carbon pattern on the power window switch panel, a new meter panel, and upgraded synthetic leather on the higher trim levels.
As for what's under the hood? That stays the same, unfortunately.
The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is available as a subcompact hatchback vehicle. There is a Mirage G4 available if you are looking for a sedan version. The Mirage hatch is equipped with a 1.2-L 3-cylinder engine that's good for 78 hp and comes paired with a standard 5-speed manual transmission or optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The G4 is unfortunately similarly equipped and gets only 78 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque - not enough 'oomph' for a small sedan.
The Mirage comes in your choice of four trim levels: the base ES, LE, SE and GT. All of them have the same standard mechanical equipment, so you do not have any other configurations to choose from. The only choice you get is sticking with the 5-speed manual or going for the CVT, which is an option that a lot of buyers are willing to make since manuals are phasing out in the United States.
The base ES trim level is equipped with the new standard 15-inch wheels, which replace the outgoing 14-inch versions. Automatic climate control heats and cools the cabin as needed, and a rear-view camera comes standard as well. Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming is equipped, as are features like a USB port and a 4-speaker sound system.
The LE trim level upgrades you to a new armrest for the driver's seat, heating for the front seats, and a steering wheel that is wrapped in leather. Add to that smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen system for a fairly well-equipped second-up trim level.
Next up in the tier is the SE. It takes a lot of the equipment from the base ES but adds keyless entry and ignition as well as fog lights. The line-topping GT gives you upgraded wheels and xenon headlights, plus everything that comes on the LE, such as the heated front seats.
Driving the Mirage is painful; there' no other way of putting it. The engine is massively underpowered, and it takes a super-slow 12.7 seconds to get the Mirage from 0 to 60 mph. Accelerating is a struggle, especially when you need to merge onto the highway. The brakes modulate well save for during panic stops, as they feel slow to respond.
The good thing about the Mirage is its size. This small hatch can maneuver in any given situation. The steering doesn't self-center well between 11 and 1 o'clock though, so you have to do the work for it.
Here is where the Mirage does earn some brownie points. The 3-cylinder engine is superbly economical despite being insanely sluggish. With the CVT equipped, it is rated for a combined 39 mpg. Real-world tests match this estimate almost to a tee, which is downright impressive given that the Mirage is not a hybrid vehicle. Most non-hybrids fall short of meeting this number. So, while you won't be zooming around on the highway, if you do a lot of city driving, you might find yourself saving a lot more money at the pump. In other words, you're trading power for efficiency here.
All told, the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is not a car guru's car. But it might be a car buyer's car. It is affordably priced and has one of the most fuel-friendly non-hybrid engines out there. It's just super slow in terms of performance. If you are willing to trade zippy power for fuel efficiency, the Mirage is actually a decent buy. Opting for one of the higher trim levels still keeps you in an affordable price range and gives you access to some nice features. It's all about what you need versus what you want. Maybe this vehicle is more than just a mirage after all.
Formula for Calculating Dealer Cost:
Total Dealer Cost - Rebate and Incentive + Taxes / Licensing Fees = True Dealer Cost. (You can get rebates and incentives here.)
Note: All Mitsubishi Mirage MSRP, invoice and dealer cost dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.
A note about rebates: Most rebates are subtracted from the "on the road" figure. In most cases, you can have the rebate if you are arranging your own financing or you are paying cash. If you decide to use the manufacturer’s low interest financing, you do not usually get the rebate. Ask your dealer for details.