(*** disclaimer: all mileage in this review is based on the gauge reading and not at-the-pump calculations. there is a general consensus on the forum that the gauge is about 4% optimistic so take that into account when reading...***)
i previously wrote a review of a couple mirages that i test drove. it can be found at this time a little further down the page. i have driven a few more mirages since then, including one which i rented for 2 days. i would like to share my thoughts on them:
the first one was a 2015 mirage ES plus trim with manual transmission. it was one of the blue ones, which in honor of our super-active forum member "Debburyl", i refer to as "deb-blue". i took it for a test drive in urban traffic in order to see how it performed. the shifting was so smooth and the clutch was wonderful. the ES plus trim in canada is the middle trim, which means that it has AC (which is not on the base ES in canada), power locks, power rear windows, and power mirrors. my driving position was quite comfortable in relation to the pedals and my hand rested comfortably on the shifter. of the two transmission choices, this one is the most fun to drive. i didn't drive it for long because i have already test driven this model. my main reason for taking it out again was to test fuel economy with a passenger and the compressor running in defog mode (often on constantly in the wet winters of the northwest). it did okay, at about 6.2 ltrs/100km (38 US Mpg) all city driving with the compressor running and making no attempt to conserve but also not being wasteful. of course for most cars this would be incredibly awesome mileage . i returned it to the dealer, told him i would think about it, and that was that.
the second one was a car which i rented for 2 days. it was also an ES plus, and also deb-blue in color, but this one had the CVT. this was the only mirage for rent anywhere in town.
i put hundreds of kms on this car and drove in many conditions and styles. after getting used to the CVT, i started to like it. it was raining the first day so i learned of the strange way that the intermittant wipers speed up and slow down depending on how fast you drive. with the piddling style of rain that can fall for days in the northwest, i found that i was not crazy about this feature because the wipers came on too frequently at high speeds. a different person who drove the car also had the same complaint.
overall, the fuel economy was quite decent. i tested it, as always, with the compressor cycling. this handicaps the mileage of course, but that's okay because the way i see it, if i can get good Mpg with the compressor running then it will be even better on days when i don't have defog needs. i took it for about 150 kms on the freeway at a quiet traffic time where i could drive without having to slow down very often. my average mileage was 5.6 ltrs/100km (42 US Mpg). the driving was up and down gradual grades but since it was a return trip to my original starting point, the net grade was 0. here's the kicker: i drove at 80 miles per hour the entire way. 42 mpg at 80 miles per hour is pretty decent indeed (i like to drive with the steering wheel low, which means that i can only read the part of the speedometer that shows miles per hour. i'll always miss the center-mounted speedometer of the yaris). c'mon folks... how many non-diesels out there (in north america) get 42 mpg at 80 miles per hour, and even with the compressor cycling?! in suburban driving, the mileage was even better, although just barely, at 5.5 ltrs/100km (just under 43 US Mpg). the car obtained consistent mileage at almost all times.
after a good weekend of cruizing, i returned the car. the rental guys, who were pretty nice guys in most ways, had nothing good to say about the car. in fact, they s--t talked it pretty badly and laughed at it. they asked me didn't i hate it? i just mumbled. how could these people be expected to understand my joy at getting awesome fuel economy. all they cared about was how much power it had. when that car gets auctioned off at the end of its rent cycle, i hope it ends up with someone who cares about it for the remainder of it's "life".
here are some general comments:
- seats: i found the seats to be decent, but i'm very picky with seats and get uncomfortable quite easily. it would be nice if i could have had adjustable driver's lumbar. only a few econo-cars come with lumbar so a person is generally out of luck if they want it. good news though! upolstry guys can put in lumbar if you want to pay for it. i have sat in the ES with the adjustable height seat and was able to get it to a more comfortable position after much messing around with it. i'd still like lumbar though and would pay extra for it.
- rear seats and paneling: unbeknownst to the rental company, and just for fun, i removed the rear seats. these seats are the most easy to remove seats that i have ever encountered. i'll post more about this at a future time, but suffice to say, it takes minutes to remove the entire assembly and not much longer to put it back in again. loved it! also, as with the yaris, all of the interior paneling is snap-off, with a few screws here and there. i didn't want to push my luck since it was a rental, but i did take a few cargo-area panels off and then put them back on. super simple!
- cruise control and the CVT: i'm normally not a big user of cruise control, but with this CVT, it's a must. unlike standards and regular automatics, one can not easily tell by the sound of the revs how fast one is travelling. the CVT is always adjusting itself. because of this, you find yourself constantly having to check your speed. i'm not too into that. when i have owned a car for a while, i can tell by sound how fast i am going. not with this puppy. but cruise control, which when available on the mirage, is mounted convieniently on the wheel, takes care of that problem quite nicely. it becomes much more a part of your routine driving.
- antenna: as many people here know, the antenna is different on the 2014 and on the 2015. the front-mounted antenna of the 2014 has garnered complaints about creating strange wind noises as the car drives along. tucking it back not only solves the issue, but also look better. in the 2015s the antenna is rear mounted and as far as i know, nobody has complained about it making noise.
- wind noise at higher speeds: i'd be interested to hear from you guys if you have experienced this but for me there is noticable wind noise above speeds of about 50 miles per hour. i believe that it is caused by the gap between the hood and the front bumper assembly. i plan on doing a mod which will test to see if that is true by sealing the gap with weather stripping.
***EDIT: i think that the noise may perhaps instead by coming from the grill just below the mitsu emblem. if this turns out to be the case, i'll edit here again when i test it.
- cargo area light: a poster somewhere else in the forum was mentioning that he/she wished that the mirage had a cargo area light in the hatch. all models that i looked at did in fact have a cargo area light. i did not look at any base models so perhaps that is the model which the poster was referencing when he/she said there was no light. a remedy for this would be a stick-on battery powered LED, which can be bought for cheap from any hardware store. one thing i'd like to see is an on-off switch on that cargo light for when i am working back there with the hatch open for long periods of time (tripping the latch with the hatch open is the current best way to get that light to go off).
- no tail light access vent for changing bulbs: this is where i wondering if you guys could help me out. i have not had a chance to read the manual so i'm not sure if you remove the tail light assembly to change bulbs or if you have to remove the rear panels, but as you can plainly see in this following pic, there is no access vent.
- leg room, arm rest, and head rest: although the leg room is not bad, i found that my left knee was often pressed against the hard plastic of the front of the arm rest where it curves and meets the door and after a while the knee would start to get sore. moving around a little fixed the problem, but caused me to realize that the arm rest is too low. it's too low for my arm to rest upon properly and it's because of this lowness that my knee also hits it. it needs to be moved up a few inches. the head rest is too far forward for my personal comfort and i will remove the cushion from it and bend the metal into a more comfortable position. note: the far forward head rest design is to protect the neck in a collision so mess with it at your own risk.
- starter: not much to say here other than that i love the sound of the starter in this car. each make; honda, ford, toyota, ect... all have their unique starter sounds for their cars and mitsu is no different. i imagine it as starting up my own little zero and heading off to battle
- USB for the stereo: again, i need to read a manual, but it seemed to me that the USB reader is unable to recognize file hierarchy for more than two steps. for example, my USB music collection has four levels of hierarchy :
the USB reader in the mirage could only recognize steps three and four. it jumps to the first album alphabetically, and then just starts playing songs. there may be a way in the manual to read higher than two steps, in which case i will edit this review to reflect that, but if not, this stereo won't be there for long in my car.
- steering and body roll: as often mentioned, the steering is... ummm... interesting. after a while i adjusted to it and didn't notice it much anymore, however, having driven both 2014s and 2015s, i think that there is a little improvement made to the 2015s. they are not quite as unsure of themselves. the steering wasn't an issue to me after a few minutes of driving. the body roll is fairly nasty. several of you here have already modded it and i can envision myself doing the same.
- CVT noises: having driven more than one CVT, i notice that they each make their own unique noises. not bad noises... just... CVT noises. it's like each one has its own personality.
- CVT in reverse: fun!
- CVT mileage: since i drive quite fast on the highway, i often noticed that my best mileage in the CVT came from suburban driving where there was a little more distance between the stop lights than outright downtown urban driving. i was EXTREMELY happy with the suburban mileage.
- the compressor and mileage: running the compressor, as one might suspect, has a significant effect on displayed mileage. it generally handicapped about half a litre per hundred kms, which on these cars is a significant amount due to their low ltrs/100km general consumption. i tested thoroughly the same routes both with and without compressor to get my average... which will bring me to my next point.....
- disabling compressor in defog: somewhere on this forum there a post where the poster complains that they can't disable the compressor on defog, even though the manual claimed otherwise. i had this in mind when i test drove my cars. that poster may have had a defective climate control but i can assure you: disabling the compressor on defog DOES work with this car. YES! HAPPY! this is a huge issue for me because i often run defog all winter long, just to keep things fresh. in my previous cars, a 2008 chevy silverado, a 2009 honda fit, a 2011 honda fit, and a 2007 toyota yaris, i disassembled the climate controls in each one so i could get at the switch and eliminate the ability of them to force me to use the compressor on defog. i could always use it if i wanted by manually activating the AC but the switches which forced me to use it were disabled (at this point someone will inevitably post and chastise me for doing this. if that's you, save it. i'm not interested). with both the ES plus manual AC climate control and the SE auto-climate control, the compressor on defog can be disabled. on the ES plus, it simply doesn't come on at all unless you manually activate the AC button. on the SE auto-climate control, it comes on by defualt, but pressing the AC button shuts it off and it stays off. in the mirage, there is no mistaking when the compressor cycles. you can very clearly hear it and feel it for a second in the revs. i made ABSOLUTELY sure that the compressor wasn't coming on. i would really like to thank mistsu for doing this. THEY GET ME!
-auto climate control in the SE: i like it. the temperature setting seemed quite accurate. there is a sensor on the dash area roughly in the vicinity of where your right knee is while you drive. you can reach down there and feel it. this is what reads the interior temperature of the car. it seems to work quite well, as setting the thing at 23.5(celsius) always kept me comfortable.
well, if you still happen to be reading this rambling review, this is the point where i tell you that after a couple months of lurking on this site and test driving mirages in the real world, i pulled the trigger and picked one up today:
surely one of the last 2014 SE trims out there. it tooks weeks of negotiating to get the price point to where i wanted it to be. it has the CVT and although with my driving style i never expected it, i have already busted into the 50 Mpg club with a significant stretch of suburban highway mileage of 4.7 ltrs/100 km (50 US Mpg). my mileage for the entire trip home from the dealer, which included city, highway, and a major bridge, averaged 4.9 ltrs/100 km (48 US Mpg). this was definitely partly in thanks to using cruise control quite often. as i wrote above, crusie control and the CVT are made for each other.