Jump to content
Create New...

L.A. on 3 cylinders for 3 days (yikes) - review of current Mitsubishi Mirage via rental

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

This was probably the first time I’ve gotten downgraded and it wasn’t on my part.  I rented a compact (icon showed a Nissan Versa) at LAX to keep costs down and was given what could be considered a subcompact. Their number of cars was slim. I felt I was downgraded in more than one way.

I had seen these cars at auto shows and didn’t pay much attention to them.  At the time, they were the only car sold in North America that I knew of being is sold with a 3-cylinder engine.  The guy at the rental lot didn’t believe it and lifting the hood – to count manifold ducting – is what convinced him.  Spark plugs which depended on a coil are no longer in the sides of engines as they once were.

Getting into the car told me that this would be a little challenging in terms of comfort and motoring.  As for the instrumentation, that part is easy.  The center pod has the minimum – speedo, tach, fuel gauge, info square, and lots of idiot lights.  The center stack is also simple, with infotainment above and climate control below.  In this infotainment system, they are able to fit in Android Auto, and the display was small, but big enough to work with.  As for songs, there is very noticeable delay if skipping forward or backward to tracks you want to hear.  The system has to think and think.  I’m not at all a sound expert, having found "The Immigrant Song" very trying, so I was just glad to have this feature.

Pulling away instantly tells you that this is basic transportation and that it’s not a particularly able vehicle.  To get the most out of this vehicle and keep costs low, the 1.2 liter 3 cylinder is paired to a CVT automatic unit.  I was not able to see a turbocharger under the hood nor does the price point call for it.  Pulling away also foretells the noisiness of the engine.  There is no graininess as much as there is loud revving that’s especially noticed when accelerating to maintain speed on a hill or up a grade.  I don’t even want to think about how this car would fare on the Grapevine, especially with several passengers.

The car is small, so it’s nimble and easy to park.  Tire drone and wind noise intrude, with the suspension sending jolts into the cabin on any pavement less than perfect.  In terms of parking, with the small camera to boot, it's a snap ... almost even fun.

There is nothing wrong with the finishes, really, except that they are spartan and not aesthetically pleasing.  At this price point, the fabrics are the tough kind, which aren’t that comfortable, but usually durable.  The spartan nature extends to the rear cabin where the windows are fixed and do not go up and down.  That said, only the front passenger windows do and there was no “A” that I could see.  Power locks and power side mirrors are also included, as is a tilt wheel.  Anymore, these come standard on all cars.  That’s where the niceties end.  The console has no armrest above it and the front cupholders and one rear cup holder are too far forward and too far back for the driver.  The trunk is bigger than that of a Spark, but, for the luggage I had, the trunk was not that much more usable and I couldn’t stand up the standard and rollaboard pieces side by side.

Surprisingly, it has a remote fuel release.  Great … and I mean it.  And it has auto lamps and cruise control, both which work well.  The air conditioning did not blow cold enough so the temperature had to be lowered and the fan speed raised.

I’ve done fine in rented Fiestas and Sparks, and even Sentras, but this car was a challenge.  Three cylinders are finding their way into European cars and some rentals over there were smooth and powerful enough that I was surprised there was a 3-cylinder engine under the hood.  That didn’t apply to this vehicle.

Fuel economy is reported to be spread across a broad range.  In the first tank (9.2 gallons), the mpg, mostly on city, it came in at 30 mpg.  A Malibu can get that.  This car had less than 5,000 miles.  On its one highway trip to be taken where it would be dropped one way, it came in at about 44 mpg.  I would have liked to have seen 35 in town and 50 on the open road.  Incidentally, the only time this car is at its best is at about 50 to 60 mph and when the pavement is level, so fuel economy seemingly goes up and rpms are at around 2,500 rpm.

The car’s selling point is its budget price and it isn’t even as cheap as I remember it being.  This car epitomizes simple A to B transportation and, as far as trips go, it could be used for nearby weekend getaways but not for long hauls with people sitting in the back or more than 2 small pieces of luggage.  It’s meant for someone who needs the bare essentials and has a budget aimed at getting those … and get a new car at the same time.  I suspect that maintenance costs, with fewer moving parts, niceties, and smaller items such as tires, would be low.  I would have much preferred a Fiesta, or even a Spark, which were the bottom of the food chain for the domestics, and, comparatively,  not all that bad, really, so that speaks to what driving the Mirage was like.

- - - - -

Edit:  photos forthcoming

Edited by trinacriabob
  • Educational 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds horrific.  Last time I was in LA in '15, I had a Tahoe...before that, maybe a 350Z rented at LAX 20 years ago (when I visited So Cal from '08-15, I drove over from Phoenix). 

  • Agree 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...



Side view - picking it up at the rental car agency near LAX


Front view - at I-5 vista point pullout, with Camp Pendleton across the freeway and the Pacific Ocean just behind me


Rear view - with the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (one of 4 venues at the Music Center) and where the Academy Awards used to be held; amazed at how sleepy DTLA continues to be on weekends, with curbside parking not being too challenging to find on a Sunday


The Mirage seen parked along Vista del Mar ... fancy Brady Bunch like homes used to sit on that hillside and were condemned because the flights leaving LAX would be airborne as they approached Pershing Drive (on the other side of  this hill and neighborhood) and flew out over the Pacific ... there is some free street parking on weekdays near Dockweiler Beach (behind me)


Front McPherson strut suspension or similar, ugly wheel covers, and small, inexpensive tires when replacement is needed


Conventional shock absorbers at the rear and not much overhang


at a rest area off I-5 just above Oceanside, CA and next to a Chevy Spark in roughly the same color, which I much prefer (Ecotec 4-cylinder engine, more power, quieter, and more compliant ride)

  • Sad 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)



The front of the cabin as seen from the passenger door at pick up



Very simple and clear organization and the switches and toggles on the actual steering wheel are very simple;  sensible A/C vent placement and infotainment although the A/C did not seem too strong


Very simple instrumentation, in which a temperature gauge could have easily been included (my pet peeve when it's excluded), and lots of idiot lights


Some simple switches and there is even front warning assist, though I don't know (and don't want to know) if it would grab the brakes and take over ... there is also a remote fuel door release, which I prefer


Very simple CVT automatic transmission lever, no armrest, and cupholder position which is too far forward and too far forward ... at least for the driver


Basic front seat design:  somewhat supportive, not that comfortable, and tough fabric points to durability


There is not too much rear leg room, the rear windows are not operable, and the thickness of the rear pillar does not intrude


It has a small rear storage area, it didn't seem to be covered (although the glass was tinted), rear split seats, and, I couldn't fit both standard and rollaboard luggage in here


This was a thoughtful feature and not typically seen at this price point


Saying good-bye to the Mirage at another SoCal airport - view of the instrument panel/dash from the rear seat

Edited by trinacriabob
Link to comment
Share on other sites



Simple and tidy engine bay with not much going on, easy to read points to measure fluids, etc., and DIY possibilities

- - - - -


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Hey there, we noticed you're using an ad-blocker. We're a small site that is supported by ads or subscriptions. We rely on these to pay for server costs and vehicle reviews.  Please consider whitelisting us in your ad-blocker, or if you really like what you see, you can pick up one of our subscriptions for just $1.75 a month or $15 a year. It may not seem like a lot, but it goes a long way to help support real, honest content, that isn't generated by an AI bot.

See you out there.


Write what you are looking for and press enter or click the search icon to begin your search