Here's Why You're a Genius If You Bought a Mitsubishi Mirage Recently
17 March 2022 - autoevolution
They laughed at me. They all laughed at me. Be it friends, family members, heck, even my roommate's cat probably.
The number of people who thought I was a real dummy for buying a 78 horsepower three-cylinder 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage ES this past November could fill a medium-sized binder.
In fairness, at the time, it seemed like the only new car available. Blasted chip shortage and all. But totally unbeknownst to me, behind my own back, in fact, I may have made one of the smarter moves I could have made. That doesn't make this little pip-squeak any less of a bad car, but let's look at why this pitiful little three-cylinder box with wheels is a great bit more useful in the U.S. than it was just a year ago.
For a bit of background, I was in a kind of a big pickle a few months ago. The lease on the 2017 Nissan Sentra I'd been driving had just expired, and I was in desperate need of some wheels. Now, I need to make it known I would almost never advocate for anyone to buy a brand new vehicle. I don't care what it is. It could be a Bugatti Chiron for all I care.
Who's to say that batch of cars from the new model year didn't have any big faults others didn't? You never know until you bite the bullet. But when the microchip shortage hit, it changed everything. Suddenly, America's pool of affordable, reliable used cars depleted down to unprecedented levels. Worse still, cheap new cars from reputable brands like Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai disappeared from showroom floors faster than most people could even walk in the front door.
But not the lowly Mirage. To my ever-increasing shock, there were still a handful of Mitsubishi Mirage hatchbacks available in my state, with a warranty and some bells and whistles to boot. Make no mistake. I had no delusions of grandeur about this little Mirage; I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. But compared to a used Chrysler that pukes up its transmission on the second day I own it, the bumper-to-bumper warranty on the brand new Mirage seemed like a sweet deal.
So far, at least, this has held true, but that's not even taking into consideration the "unique," so to say, current geopolitical climate. Little to my knowledge, or basically everyone with access to the nightly new's knowledge at the time, two countries across the world from myself were about to have a big boogaloo. Regardless of the specifics of all that business, it was about to make me look at least a little bit smarter for buying the 40 mpg-busting Mirage. Maybe just a little? Possibly?
As the effects of economic inflation and instability in Eastern Europe radiated across the globe, the cost of petroleum began to reach numbers not seen in some places since two calendar decades ago. Some would even argue since the great gas crisis of 1973, at least in some places.
As the cheapest 87 octane reached $4.50 a gallon in my home state of Pennsylvania, the tiny sub-ten gallon fuel tank and fuel-sipping economy of my little Mirage suddenly became the difference between affording to travel and being stuck at home. No $120 gas receipts for this strapping young auto journalist. It might be the most intelligent move my little walnut-brain's come up with since deciding to take out student loans. Am I salty? Only slightly.
But this isn't about aggrandizing my own intelligence, pitiful as I may perceive it on my down-days. It's about defining the legacy of a little Mitsubishi that's shouldered the burden of the company's non-SUV passenger car segment for almost a decade now. A car that's so often been the butt of every joke of every motoring journalist that figured themselves clever.
There were some truly scathing reviews of the Mirage over the years. Not the least of which was Doug DeMuro's absolute demolition of the car back in 2017. One of the first reviews in the young petrolhead's burgeoning and successful career that truly caught people's attention worldwide.
In all fairness, Papa Doug did at least admit that he completely understood the appeal of the Mirage as bare basic brand new transportation. Even if the reactionary powder kegs in his comments section couldn't be bothered to watch the video for long enough to hear him say it.
In any case, the dank meme status of many of the little Mirage's reviews only tells half of the story of a car that's had one unacanily remarkable and detailed story across the globe. There's a car with a genuine use hidden behind all that god-awful plastic, the anemic engine, and wheels that look like Smartie candies is a genuinely useful little family hatchback.
Especially considering my knucklehead little brother decided it was the perfect time to buy a V6 Chevy Camaro land ship at the same time I bought my Mirage. The gratification from his little snafu will sustain me for many days.
All good little bro, you can drive my Mirage to work when you can't afford the gas in your V6 muscle car. Just try and put a couple of gallons back in the tank when you're done, would ya? I joke.