2014 Mitsubishi Mirage with a Chevette
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage road trip
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage road trip
Top: 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage with a Chevette, middle & bottom: Mitsubishi Mirage with road trip passengers who may or may not be current college students. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Justin Pritchard

For those of us without access to funds like any recent scandal-plagued, tax-dollar grabbing politician, watching your money is important – and Mitsubishi’s latest offering helps Canadian drivers do just that. It’s called the Mirage, it’s huge on low-cost transport, and you aren’t seeing things when you see its starting price of under $12,500, its 10-year, 160,000 kilometre powertrain warranty, or its mileage figures which suggest you can go 100 clicks on as little as 4.4 litres of dinosaur juice.  In fact, the Mirage now starts at just $9,998 thanks to a consumer cash incentive.

Mirage is basic transportation, and evaluating it as anything otherwise is missing the point. So, there will be no talk of steering precision, quarter-mile times, feats of handling performance or blow-your-brains out styling in this piece. Besides: the shopper after a car like this one wants, arguably, three key things: a cheap price, low running costs, and that warm, snuggly feeling that arises from knowing you’ve got a good deal.

As such, Mirage will sell some copies to families and folks after a thrifty second-car runabout to use when the Sequioa or Tahoe’s services aren’t required. Or to any number of folks looking to downsize their ride, fuel bills, repair costs and car payments. Or to someone like my brother – who drives a big, gas-sucking truck to support his outdoorsy weekend activities while cringing at the fuel burned on his work commute during the week. He loves his truck, but he lusts after a small, economical and worry-free car for the daily grind.

There’s another shopper that the Mirage will be popular with. This shopper’s favorite restaurant has a 99-cent menu. They’re familiar with living on a shoestring budget. They’re probably upgrading from a pair of Nikes and a bus-pass, because Mirage will probably be their first car. If not, they’ve probably returned beverage containers and searched beneath sofa-cushions for gas money in the not-so-distant past.

Yes – Mirage is going to be a hit with students. Students who will likely take their new Mirage on road trips, loaded to the brim with friends and gear and supplies while searching out new adventures.

I thought I’d head out on a college road trip of my own – even though I went to university, and haven’t set foot in the halls of higher learning nearly a decade. I selected three friends to join me, and we packed up, set off, and headed from Sudbury to the most exciting of Canadian destinations: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage2014 Mitsubishi Mirage dashboard2014 Mitsubishi Mirage centre stack
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage dashboard, centre stack. Click image to enlarge

The agenda? An evening in the hot-tub at the Water Tower Inn (which was, of course, broken, as usual), a night on the town with some old friends, and a morning of breakfast before the drive home.

My passenger-buddies were initially reluctant about taking the little Mirage on such big road trip – but they, and I, learned a lot about Canada’s thriftiest and best-backed subcompact in the process. Here are some notes.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage cargo area with 20lb pike on a board
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage cargo area with 20lb pike mounted on a board. Click image to enlarge

Bigger Than it Looks: It was anyone’s guess how the Mirage’s interior would accommodate Paul, Dave, Eddie and I, plus our overnight bags and a large 20-pound pike mounted to a board (a gift for a friend’s new garage) all at once. Mirage is bigger inside than it looks – and though snug for four adults of average-ish size, it wasn’t oppressively tight. Three cupholders and a rear-window cargo-cover shelf added to the at-hand storage and helped keep us organized on the go. Seats are flat and somewhat stiff, so a few stops to stretch were required. But all of my passengers were surprised at the interior space, and especially headroom. They’ve made the Mirage bigger on board than it looks.

Great Lighting: Some after-dark driving revealed a very good headlight system, especially with the high-beams engaged. Highway 17 is a drab, poorly-lit stretch of boring asphalt on a good day – though your writer appreciated powerful, saturating high-beam output during his mid-November road trip in limited daylight. Mirage’s high-beams are bang-on in terms of output and dispersion. A nice little touch not common at this price-point – and one test-drivers aren’t likely to notice on a daytime test-drive.

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