Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A yellow 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is shown turning on a city street in the rain.

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is the Biggest No-Brainer for Budget Buyers

Not all subcompact cars are built just for value. Take the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage: it’s dirt cheap, but it’s also stylish and fun to drive. With the 2021 Mirage, Mitsubishi doesn’t just provide entry buyers with an incredibly affordable alternative to a questionable used car; it also invites pride-of-ownership and the opportunity for buyers to infuse their personality and tastes into what they drive.

Mitsubishi achieves this with a massive selection of fun, original exterior paint color options. Colors like Sand Yellow Metallic and Sapphire Blue Metallic transform a simple four-door hatchback into a style statement, a feature first-time buyers will love. It’s this attention to detail that helps the Mirage stand out in its category, and on the practical side, plenty of standard advanced safety technology will give buyers even more reasons to buy a Mirage.

Because of its subcompact size and gas-sipping fuel economy, the “just right” 2021 Mirage is perfect for urban drivers and commuters. With four trims to choose from, all priced well under $20,000, the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is definitely worth a look, especially if you thought you could only afford a used car. With the 2021 Mirage, you’ll get a new car warranty for the same price a more risky pre-owned alternative would cost.

What’s new for 2021? We take a look at the Mirage up close, including infotainment features, safety, and available options.

Specifications and Powertrain

The Mirage is teeny tiny (yes, that’s a technical term), at an overall length of just 151.4 inches and a scant 96.5-inch wheelbase. Remember, the wheelbase is essentially the space allocated for the cabin, so a logical conclusion would be that the Mirage lacks ample passenger and cargo space. In fact, the Mirage offers 86 cubic feet of passenger volume and up to 47 cubic feet of cargo space.

Buyers in the sub-$20,000 subcompact category cannot expect a significant amount of performance, but the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage does just fine, thanks to a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder DOHC 12-valve fuel-injected engine. What you sacrifice in acceleration, you more than make up for with fuel economy. With its 9.2-gallon fuel tank, there’s nearly a 400-mile driving range.

One thing that really puts the Mitsubishi Mirage ahead of the competition is its exceptional fuel economy. This little hatchback can get you up to 36 miles per gallon in the city and 43 miles per gallon on the highway when you are using the available automatic transmission. If you have the manual version, you’ll still see around 33 miles per gallon city and 41 miles per gallon highway.

Mitsubishi offers two different transmissions on the 2021 Mirage, depending on trim. The first is a 5-speed manual transmission, and the second is a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The former is pretty self-explanatory, but the CVT is characteristically very different from a typical automatic transmission, and therefore worth exploring.

CVT transmissions transition through gears without the hesitation or tangible feeling of upshifting and downshifting. By doing so, it can dial in the best and most efficient gear almost instantaneously in response to road conditions and driver input, resulting in overall better fuel economy and performance. In fact, when equipped with a CVT, the Mirage boasts bragging rights for being one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the road.

A red 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is shown from the back parked in front of a modern building.

The 2021 Mirage: Trims and Special Editions

The 2021 Mirage is available in four different trims, letting buyers ease into more well-equipped options for a surprisingly small increase in price. The base ES is the epitome of value, with an incredibly low starting price that includes a 5-speed manual transmission (an automatic is available at an additional cost) and power steering. The ES has LED taillights and a spoiler on the exterior, as well as intermittent wipers on the windshield and the rear hatchback window.

On the inside, the ES features standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with a 7.0-inch infotainment display. Automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, and power windows are also standard. Best of all, The ES includes a ton of standard driver-assist technologies, like Forward Collision Mitigation and Hill Start Assist.

Essentially, the only difference between the Mirage ES and the Mirage LE is that the latter includes an automatic Continuously Variable Transmission, along with 14-inch alloy wheels (the ES has conventional steel wheels). If you really want to bump up the standard equipment, you’ll want to take a closer look at the Carbonite Edition, new for 2021, and the top-of-the-line SE.

The Carbonite Edition is mostly an appearance upgrade on the outside, consisting of a series of special front, side, and rear air dams, Carbonite Edition badging, and a red stripe accent on the front grille. Also included are a remote fuel lid release and special interior accents in gloss black, silver, and chrome. The top-end SE adds LED headlights, fog lights, 15-inch wheels, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a few other creature comforts.

Warranty and Owner Benefits

Where the 2021 Mirage shines over all of its competitors is its extensive factory warranty. Most automakers offer a 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty. Not so with the Mirage. You’ll get 5-years / 60,000-miles of coverage. As for the powertrain, Mitsubishi covers the Mirage for 10-years or 100,000-miles, significantly longer than competitors like Chevrolet.

The limited warranty covers a substantial amount of vehicle components. Just about the only exclusions are tires and light bulbs. This is exceptionally important for budget-minded buyers. Cost-of-ownership plays a large role in which vehicle these buyers select. Knowing a car is covered for the first five years is a big stress reducer. All 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage models also come with roadside assistance for the first 5 years with no mileage limit.

What’s especially welcome is Mitsubishi’s decision to add standard driver-assist technology to the entire Mirage lineup. Every Mirage comes standard with Forward Collision Mitigation with Pedestrian Detection and Automatic Emergency Braking. Lane Departure Warning and Automatic High Beams are also available. There are plenty of far more expensive vehicles that don’t include these kinds of features.

A white 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is parked on a boardwalk in front of a lake.

The Mirage Is the Hatchback for You

Overall, the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is a value proposition. This is not the car for you if performance and high-end luxury are the benchmarks. The Mirage is a simple, fairly bare-bones hatchback with plenty of space for 5 passengers and a little bit of cargo. It’s perfect for tight city streets and parking spaces, and its class-leading fuel economy puts it in top contention as a commuter.

The eight available – and very uncommon – exterior paint choices mean you can dial in the flashiness to your own personal tastes (we recommend Sand Yellow for extroverts), and the Carbonite Edition trim affords a little extra punch of sportiness. Yet, with all the more superficial touches, you’re still getting a pretty simple car.

We recommend the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage if your budget falls more in the ‘decent used car’ range. Why? If you’re looking to keep costs low, you cannot beat the Mirage’s low entry price and substantial warranty coverage, not to mention how far it will get you on a single tank of gas. Is this your forever car? Probably not. But what it does offer is a fantastic alternative to buying used.