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

1990 Mitsubishi Precis

1990 Mitsubishi Precis

1990 Mitsubishi Precis

  • Fuel economy
  • Maneuverability
  • Price
  • Acceleration
  • Handling
  • Noise
  • Passenger room

In performance and overall quality, Precis and the similar Excel lag behind the class-leading Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Price is its foremost attraction.


Closely related to the newly redesigned Hyundai Excel, the mini-sized Mitsubishi Precis hatchback was built in South Korea and introduced to the U.S. market in spring 1987. Excel also came in 4-door sedan form, but Mitsubishi offered only the hatchback.

The lineup shrank in 1990 from six models and two body styles, to just a pair of 2-door hatchbacks: base and RS. Mitsubishi no longer needed the Precis to meet voluntary import quotas, as the Mirage was now produced in Illinois. Precis remained Mitsubishi’s price leader, however.

Mirage and Precis differed in styling, but were close in dimensions and mechanical specifications. Precis and the Hyundai Excel were derived from an earlier Mirage design, using a similar front-drive chassis and mechanical components.

Precis used the same 81-horsepower, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that went into the Mirage, as well as the same 4- and 5-speed manual transmissions. The automatic-transmission option for Precis was a 4-speed overdrive unit, while the Mirage made do with a 3-speed automatic.

Yearly Updates

1991 Precis
Minor appearance changes marked the 1991 Precis. The RS model was gone, but most of its equipment wound up in an RS option package, including wire wheels with full covers, body-colored bumpers, a tachometer, cloth upholstery, and split folding rear seatback. The 5-speed manual transmission also was dropped, leaving only a 4-speed stick and the 4-speed automatic option.
1992 Precis
Slight front-end restyling and two new body colors were the only notable changes to Mitsubishi’s subcompact hatchback.
1993 Precis
A new grille went on the 1993 Precis, which was available in two new body colors. Only a single version was offered, with 4-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic.
1994 Precis
Changes were few in the final season for Mitsubishi’s lowest-priced model.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Sole Precis engine was a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, rated at 81 horsepower. Either a 4-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic could be installed, but RS models got a standard 5-speed manual.

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
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Like Hyundai’s closely related Excel, the Precis is an economical and reasonably well-equipped car. With an automatic transmission, however, it’s a lethargic performer. Manual shift produces more reasonable acceleration.

Expect a soft, pleasant ride from the Precis suspension.

On the down side, plenty of body lean and skinny tires combine to produce low cornering limits, preceded by a lot of tire squealing. Adding to the discomfort, those tires howl loudly at highway speeds.

Interior space is adequate for four–or even five in a pinch–but rear leg room is at a premium if front-seat occupants happen to have long legs. With an optional power moonroof installed, 6-footers will barely have enough head room up front.


Model Tested: 1993 Mitsubishi Precis

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.


Acceleration - 2
Fuel Economy - 7
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 2


Controls/Materials - 4
Room/Comfort Front - 3
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 2


Value - 2

Total: 31


2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
93.9 161.4 63.3 51.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
37.9 11.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.8 37.5 41.9 32.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1993 Precis 2-door hatchback


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

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


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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine stalling
Description: The engine may stall when idling and/or the air conditioning won’t work if there is a faulty crimp in the wiring harness to the engine’s throttle-position sensor. (1990-91)
Poor transmission shift
Description: A restriction ball inside the manual transmission comes loose and jams the 3-4 shift rail making downshifts into 4th or shifting into reverse difficult or impossible. (1990)
Rough idle
Description: The engine can lose power and/or idle poorly because the timing-belt sprocket on the crankshaft gets loose from wear. (1990-91)
Transmission noise
Description: A drone from the transmission (that goes away when the shift lever is pushed sideways) is caused by the 3-4 synchronizer sleeve wear. (1990)
Vehicle noise
Description: The front stabilizer-bar bushings cause a squeaking or squawking noise and revised bushings are available to cure it. (1990-92)

Recall History

1990 Precis
Description: Lockwasher under nut that secures front hub to driveshaft could crack, causing wheel bearing free play and possible bearing damage.
1990-94 Precis
Description: In lateral moving-barrier impact test, fuel leakage from gas tank exceeded maximum allowable amount of spillage.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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.