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Kelley Blue Book: The 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage has 3 cylinders, cloth upholstery, and manually adjustable front seats. Yes, but it starts under $15k.

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Pros

Low purchase price and running costs

Reassuring warranty

Hatchback version is nicely versatile

Cons

Underpowered engine

Un-dynamic dynamics

Disappointing performance in crash tests

What’s new?

Black Edition debuts

ES, LE, and SE trims gain a few more minor standard features

Price: The 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage starts at $14,645.

The 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the cheapest new cars sold in the U.S. The Mirage subcompact hatchback starts under $15k and the G4 sedan variant under $16k.

Their fuel economy figures are also about as good as it gets without putting a hybrid system under the hood. Mitsubishi
7211,
+4.82%

 backs up these positives with an unbeatable powertrain warranty, while throwing in forward-collision warning and Apple
AAPL,
+3.36%

CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration as standard.

Sounds great, right? But here come the negatives. The engine has just three cylinders and makes little power — but more noise than we’d like. The cabins are collections of cheap plastics. And those low prices are for versions with a manual transmission. An automatic is another $1,350.

Here’s something else to consider. The Chevrolet Spark is cheaper by around $1,000. Or working on the “pay for what you get” principle, buyers could spend a little extra and go home with a far more well-rounded car. The Hyundai
HYMTF,
-1.50%

Accent being just one example.

Buyers might also like to consider a certified pre-owned vehicle. They’ll be getting a lot more for the same kind of money, and it will still come with a warranty.

2022 Mitsubishi Mirage pricing

It’s the hatchback model in ES trim and with a manual transmission that makes the 2022 Mirage one of the cheapest new cars. It has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $14,645, plus a destination charge.

Expect to pay an extra $1,000 for the G4 sedan, although it’s only an $800 difference in the top SE models. A 2022 G4 in SE trim is $18,695 before destination charges and options.

Buyers seeking the most affordable new car aren’t limited to just the Mirage. The aforementioned Chevrolet Spark hatchback starts at $13.6k. The sedan-only Hyundai Accent is $2k more than the Mirage. The Kia
000270,
+1.02%

Rio should be about the same, only with its sedan version being cheaper than its hatchback stablemate. And we’re looking at about $15k for the Nissan
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Versa sedan.

Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to find out what others in your area paid for their new Mirage or Mirage G4. Hatchback or sedan, resale values are not strong.

Driving the 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage

As long as no one expects precise handling or any information coming up to the hands regarding what the front wheels are up to, then a new Mirage might still remain on a buyer’s list of possibles.

For something with small wheels and a short body, the ride quality is generally fine. There’s some jiggling over washboard surfaces, and a bit of body lean through corners — but the Mirage doesn’t exactly inspire anyone to take the snaking roads home.

Then again, the freeway can be a fraught place as well, since the engine’s meager 78 horsepower makes getting up to speed an unsettling and noisy experience. Moving off from a standstill has a similar lack of urgency, taking nearly 13 seconds to reach 60 mph.

On the plus side, the brakes do their job well enough, as does the automatic transmission. Fuel economy is also impressive. The automatic transmission is more efficient that the manual, with the 2022 Mirage hatchback achieving 43 mpg on the highway; the G4 sedan manages 41 mpg.

Also see: The 9 things that are most likely to affect your auto insurance rates

Interior comfort

The last time we had a Mirage test car, we were disappointed by trim pieces that didn’t align properly, along with a few other build quality flaws. The counter argument is: “Yes, but it starts under $15k.” We see the logic, but those pieces were designed to fit together in the first place.

While drivers are looking at the road and not at all the hard plastics in the cabin, they will at least be fairly comfortable. The optional heated front seats also warm up quite quickly.

The driver’s seat is height-adjustable, aiding in the quest for the ideal position. Even then, a Mirage owner might see road trips in a less-than-romantic light. Their elbows certainly will, since there’s no padding on the door panels where they lean. The driver’s-side center armrest in the top trim improves that situation somewhat.

This year, the front passenger’s shade receives a vanity mirror and a ticket holder.

Since the Mirage is a subcompact car, rear passenger space is naturally on the small side. It might be useful to know that the hatchback has more headroom at the back: 37.2 inches, as opposed to the G4’s 36.8. Weirdly, the G4 has more rear legroom: 37.3 inches, compared with the hatchback’s 34.2.

The Mirage G4’s trunk is a decent size (12.6 cubic feet), but the rear seats don’t split and fold down as they do in the hatchback. There’s just a pass-through for longer objects. Behind the hatchback’s rear seats is a luggage area of 17.1 cubic feet. With both of those seats folded, cargo space expands to 47 cubic feet.

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Exterior styling

Apart from the small wheels, the Mitsubishi Mirage has a contemporary look that’s arguably agreeable. The base model comes with LED taillights, along with bumpers in the same color as the body. The top SE trim comes with full LED headlights and daytime running lights.

On the subject of illumination, the base ES gains Welcome and Coming Home lighting as standard this year. The SE and Black Edition come with automatic on/off headlights, a new feature for 2022.

Also new this year, the Mirage Black Edition has black exterior elements like the rear spoiler, side mirror housings and 15-inch alloy wheels.

Both the hatchback and the sedan are eligible for White Diamond premium paint, costing $395.

Favorite features

Apple CarPlay/Android AutoWhen prices are low, we all expect some corners to be cut. Mitsubishi was smart enough to still provide smartphone integration as standard. Even though navigation is not available in the 2022 Mirage, this feature makes using things like Waze and Apple Maps really easy.

WarrantyMitsubishi reassures buyers with a standard 5-year/60,000-mile new-car warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. These are just as good as Hyundai and Kia.

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Standard features

That “Yes, but it starts under $15k” argument carries more weight when assessing the base ES trim’s standard equipment. It comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, 14-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, a steering wheel that adjusts only for height, cloth upholstery, and manually adjustable front seats.

At least the windows and locks are powered. The side mirrors are also power-adjustable.

In the safety department, all versions of the 2022 Mirage have forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, plus seven airbags including one for the driver’s knees, and hill start assist.

The infotainment system has a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, voice control, four speakers, and just one USB port.

See: This is the cheapest electric car, and it just got an update

Factory options

Buyers are probably going to want the automatic transmission. If they’re pondering whether to go for the next trim up, which has it as standard, we’re not so sure. The difference in price between an automatic ES and the LE is about $600, which brings 14-inch alloy wheels, plus a shift lever finished in black leather and aluminum.

The Black Edition adds 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and various black interior elements.

At the top of the 2022 Mirage range is the SE, with automatic on/off LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers (another new addition this year), heated front seats, driver’s-side armrest, leather-wrapped steering wheel, fabric/simulated leather upholstery, lane-departure warning, and a push-button starter.

Also read: What California’s ban on gas cars could mean for you—even if you don’t live there

Engine and transmission

Most engines have four cylinders. Some have turbochargers. This one has neither. It’s a naturally aspirated 1.2-liter unit with three cylinders.

Output of 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque makes the 2022 Mirage one of the least powerful new cars on the market. Not only that, it’s prone to vibration and noise, so it becomes irritating when working its hardest.

We suggest giving the rubbery 5-speed manual transmission a pass and choosing a version with the automatic (standard from the LE trim, optional in the base ES) to maximize the one positive aspect of this engine — fuel economy.

1.2-liter inline-378 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm74 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 33/41 mpg (manual, hatchback), 33/40 mpg (manual, G4 sedan), 36/43 mpg (automatic, hatchback), 35/41 mpg (automatic, G4 sedan)

KBB’s car review methodology.

This story originally ran on KBB.com. 

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