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Dirt cheap, great on gas and nothing more
by Aaron Gold

From the moment we first laid eyes on the Mitsubishi Mirage, we were pessimistic. Forgettable styling, a miniscule engine, a sub-$14k price tag and Mitsubishi's penchant for low-rent interiors -- none of it boded well for the baby Mitsubishi, nor did the fact that the Mirage was originally designed for developing markets like Thailand, where it is built.

And yet point-by-point, the Mirage makes a passable attempt to address all of our concerns.

The Mirage's body was designed for aerodynamics rather than style. The shape may be plain, but Mitsu has dressed it up with bright paint colors named by their Facebook fans: Plasma Purple, Kiwi Green, Sapphire Blue and Infra-Red. (The less-adventurous can get their Mirage in black, white, gray or silver.) Tall, skinny tires help mask the car's tiny size, which is underscored by a set of 14-inch wheels. For reference, it's four-inches longer than a Chevy Spark but a foot shorter than a Honda Fit.

Under the skin, the Mirage makes extensive use of high-strength steel to provide good crash protection with light weight. The front-end structure is bolted on, not welded, which makes for cheaper repairs after a minor collision and, subsequently, lower insurance rates.

INTERIOR: BLAND OR JUST BAD?

The interior is not nearly as dreadful as we feared; the dash is well organized and the plastics from which it is made are no worse than any of the Mirage's competitors. The door panels are pretty dire, however, with chintzy hard plastic in the places we would have liked to rest our elbows, but the doors themselves shut with a reassuring thunk, although you have to slam them pretty hard to get them to close.

The front seats could use with some improvement. We gave the Mirage a sporting chance by assigning our shortest writer to review it, but even at 5'6" he found the bottom cushion lacking thigh support and the backrest too stiff. The back seat is a shapeless bench that provides little meaningful support, though legroom is fairly decent.

SEE ALSO: Sub-Compact Car Buyer’s Guide

The Mirage has three seat belts in the back, but anyone thin enough to occupy the middle position could probably fit just as easily into the glovebox. Cargo space is a grocery-bag-friendly 8.3 cubic feet; dropping the split-fold rear seat provides room for suitcases.

Read the complete 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage Review at AutoGuide.com
 
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