Compact car; Built in Japan, USA
  • 2-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $1,300*


1990 Mitsubishi Mirage 4-door sedan


1991 Mitsubishi Mirage 2-door hatchback


1991 Mitsubishi Mirage LS 4-door sedan


1991 Mitsubishi Mirage GS 4-door sedan


1991 Mitsubishi Mirage interior

Pros:
  • Fuel economy
  • Maneuverability
Cons:
  • Acceleration (w/automatic transmission)
  • Cargo room (hatchback)
  • Noise
  • Rear-seat room (hatchback)

Like a batch of rivals, Mitsubishi’s mildly upscale subcompact is a generally competent, well-rounded vehicle. Mirage stood just a bit above the subcompact pack, not because it was particularly great but because it suffered fewer of the usual small-car drawbacks. We’ve liked the GS model for its sporting flair.

Overview

Introduced for 1989, Mitsubishi’s subcompact Mirage was a near-twin to the Dodge/Plymouth Colt and Eagle Summit. The lineup started with a VL (“Value Leader”) 2-door hatchback, followed by a standard 2-door hatchback and a 4-door notchback sedan. Next up were “EXE Special Edition” versions of both body styles. Sportiest member was the RS hatchback. Standard engine was a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, rated at 81 horsepower. The VL came only with a 4-speed manual transmission; the RS with a 5-speed manual. All other models had a standard 5-speed and optional 3-speed automatic.

Yearly Updates

1991 Mirage
Changes were considerable for 1991, starting with a fresh grille for all models. Engine output from the base four jumped to 92 with the 3-valve-per-cylinder design introduced for ’91. An optional 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission replaced the 3-speed unit on 4-door models (but the 3-speed remained available for 2-doors). RS and EXE models departed, but a new LS 4-door joined the lineup. So did a GS 4-door sedan with a new 123-horsepower dual-overhead-cam, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine.
1992 Mirage
Modifications were modest for 1992. Base Mirages got full cloth seat inserts, in place of a vinyl/cloth combination. LS versions adopted a new wheel design and fresh lower rear-body trim.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

In 1990, the Mirage’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine developed 81 horsepower. Turning to a 3-valve-per-cylinder configuration in 1991 raised output to 92 horsepower. A dual-overhead-cam 1.6-liter engine was installed only in the GS sedan, rated at 123 horsepower. Depending on the model, a Mirage could have a 4- or 5-speed manual transmission, or a 3- or 4-speed automatic. The 4-speed automatic was limited to GS 4-door sedans, with the larger engine.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/97
Engine HP 123
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 101
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
23/28
22/28
ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.5/90
Engine HP 81
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 91
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
31/36
28/34
27/29
ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.5/90
Engine HP 92
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 93
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
31/26
29/35
26/32n1
37.0

1. 28/31 mpg w/3-speed automatic.

Road Test

Handling with a GS ranks above average, and its twin-cam 1.6-liter engine delivers brisk acceleration–at least with a 5-speed manual gearbox. As for other Mirages, fuel economy is the biggest bonus. Our manual-shift 4-door, for one, averaged a notably frugal 37 mpg.

Lack of performance, in fact, is the foremost flaw in a base, VL, or LS Mirage. With an automatic transmission, each of those models takes around 13 seconds to reach 60 mph. Manual-shift versions aren’t much swifter, either. Compared to the GS, too, lesser Mirages lag in handling and roadholding.

Engine noise can be a problem. Work the 1.5-liter engine hard, and you can expect quite a bit of growl. Wind noise, on the other hand, is low.

Rear-seat and cargo room are limited in the hatchback, but that model cost less when new and might be comparably cheaper these days. Space is better in the notchback body style. Visibility and controls are excellent, and the driving position is low and comfortable.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1992 Mitsubishi Mirage 2-door 5-speed

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 3
30%
Fuel Economy - 7
70%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 38

Specifications

2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
93.9 158.7 65.7 52.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
34.7 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.3 36.9 41.9 32.5
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
96.7 170.1 65.7 52.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.3 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 37.5 41.9 34.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1991 Mirage 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 108
Injury 159
Theft 58

Trouble Spots

Engine misfire
Description: Surging, hesitation, or stalling when the engine is first started is often due to deposits on the intake valves. (1990)
Vehicle noise
Description: Popping or squeaking from the front is caused by the springs vibrating in their seats. (1990-92)
Vehicle shake
Description: Automatic-transmission models may vibrate at idle due to the radiator being installed wrong. (1990-92)

Recall History

1990-91
Description: Front-seatbelt release button can break and pieces can fall inside.
1992
Description: Shoulder-belt anchorage may remain at A-pillar when car door is closed.
1992
Description: Due to abrasion of cable, driver’s shoulder-belt anchorage could become stuck.
1992
Description: Automatic-seatbelt system may fail to operate correctly during crash.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.