The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage has a simple goal: to provide cheap transportation with minimal fuss. On the whole, we'd say mission accomplished. The 4-door Mirage hatchback is one of the most affordable new cars on the market, and it gets up to 44 miles per gallon on the highway, so you'll be saving money both ways. If that's what you're looking for, this Mitsubishi delivers.

Of course, there are other options out there, and in many respects they've got more to offer than the Mirage. Just about every rival serves up better acceleration, for example, along with more refinement in terms of ride and handling. If you want a bigger back seat, you can find that elsewhere, too. Put it this way: The Mirage probably won't be winning a comparison test anytime soon.

But if your personal test simply concerns whether or not the car fits your budget and gives you great fuel economy, it's hard to argue with the Mirage. Take one for a spin and see if it's the real deal.

What's New for 2014?

The 2014 Mirage is an all-new compact hatchback.

What We Like

Great fuel economy; generous feature set; easy to park; healthy cargo capacity

What We Don't

Slow, noisy acceleration; subpar ride and handling

How Much?

$13,790-$14,990

Fuel Economy

The front-wheel-drive 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage is powered by a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine rated at 74 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is either a 5-speed manual (the default specification) or a higher-priced continuously variable automatic (CVT).

With the manual, the Mirage returns 34 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Opt for the CVT, and those numbers bump up to 37 mpg city/44 mpg hwy, which is about as good as it gets for a nonhybrid vehicle.

Standard Features & Options

The 4-door Mirage hatchback is offered in two trim levels: DE and ES.

The DE ($13,790) starts with 14-inch steel wheels, a rear spoiler, power windows/locks/mirrors, 60/40-split folding rear seat backs, a tilt-only steering wheel, automatic climate control and a 4-speaker audio system with USB input.

The ES ($14,990) adds 14-in alloy wheels, fog lights, keyless entry with push-button ignition, Bluetooth, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls, a leather-wrapped shift knob, silver interior accents and cruise control.

Some of the ES's features are available on the DE as dealer-installed options. Other such options include a body kit, blue interior LED lighting and parking sensors (front and rear). There's just one factory option, an ES-only Navigation package that includes a navigation system and a rearview camera.

Cargo space is a strong suit for the Mirage, measuring 17 cu ft behind the rear seat backs and a whopping 47 cubes with those seat backs folded down.

Safety

The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage comes standard with 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (front-disc, rear-drum), stability control and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver-knee, full-length side-curtain).

In crash tests conducted by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Mirage received the highest rating of Good in four of the five categories; in the small overlap front test, however, it received the lowest rating of Poor.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation, we noted that the Mirage offers an impressive roster of standard features for this price point. Whereas some competitors make you suffer the indignity of crank windows and manual locks, the Mirage provides power-everything, along with automatic climate control and USB connectivity.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the interior design and materials are pretty basic, even for this budget-conscious class. The plastics are hard, the displays are rudimentary (except for the optional navigation system) and the seat cushions are flat and not particularly supportive. The steering wheel doesn't even telescope, as longer-legged drivers will quickly discover. Rear-seat space is adequate by segment standards, but it's not nearly as copious as in the rival Versa Note.

Thanks to its tiny footprint, the Mirage is a cinch to park, and squeezing through tight urban spaces is similarly easy-peasy. The ride can be rather harsh on rough pavement, however, and cornering is not a strong suit. Not surprisingly, acceleration is leisurely with the mandatory 3-cylinder motor. Engine noise when passing or merging can be intrusive, particularly if you opt for the rev-happy CVT.

Other Cars to Consider

Ford Fiesta -- The Fiesta is more fun to drive, and it's got a new turbo 3-cylinder that matches the Mirage's excellent fuel economy, albeit at a higher price.

Nissan Versa Note -- If passenger space is a priority, the Versa Note is a no-brainer with its ample headroom and massive back seat.

Toyota Yaris -- The Yaris has a more creative interior than the Mirage, and it's peppier, too.

AutoTrader's Advice

The point of a car like this is to save as much money as possible, so we'd recommend sticking with the base DE model. For the ES's price, you could get into a number of desirable new or used cars.

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