Category Archives: The Great Compact Car Search of 2014

The Great Compact Car Search of 2014 2015: Mitsubishi Mirage

Test Driving the Mitsubishi Mirage

One of my first driving experiences was in a Mistubishi Mirage. My parents bought a silver 1990 Mirage hatchback in that year. Always the spendthrifts, my parents’ Mirage was an absolute base model of an already inexpensive car. I’m talking manual transmission, no radio, crank windows, no cruise control, not even air conditioning.

When I turned sixteen the following year, I drove that silver Mirage, with my mom in the passenger seat, to the DMV to take my driving test. It’s always been a point of pride that I took my driving test in a car with a manual transmission – especially since I passed the test with flying colors. (Never mind the fact that just a few months after getting my drivers license I rear ended another car in the very same Mirage. Oops!)

At sixteen years of age, every car feels like a luxury car. As long as there are four wheels and an engine, the newfound freedom that comes with driving can make even a Pinto feel like a Mercedes.

I’ve certainly been around the block a few times since that first experience with a Mitsubishi Mirage. Now that the carmaker has re-introduced the Mirage to the US market, I thought we should consider it for our next car purchase. So how will the car that seemed like a luxurious ride when I was sixteen feel now that I, uh, have a few more miles on my odometer?

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage headlight

There’s definitely no mistaking the Mitsubishi Mirage for what it is: a cheap ride. We test drove a 2015 Mirage DE with a manual transmission and, while the price point was certainly quite appealing (right around $13,000), the car leaves a lot to be desired. The only positive thing I can say about the car is that the manual transmission shifted smoothy. Otherwise, it’s a bust. It’s sluggish, it doesn’t absorb bumps and potholes very well and, well, it just feels like a cheap ride. From the finishes to the handling, the Mirage lacks many of the upgrades that we’ve come to expect from even entry level cars. To get those creature comforts – bluetooth, push button start and the like – the price get pushed closer to $15,000. At that point, you may as well upgrade to a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris.

We were attracted to the Mirage by its price but in the end we think that it won’t age well, especially in harsh city driving conditions.

Unfortunately, the Mirage also makes an appearance on Forbes’ list of 15 New Cars to Avoid (as does the Scion IQ, another car that we tested).

MORE INFORMATION:

Images: This American House

The Great Compact Car Search of 2014: Toyota Prius C

We’re in the market for a new car and we’re taking you along with us! It’s time to retire our 2005 Honda Element after 170,000 miles of rugged use. We’re going to keep the Element for hauling but it’s time to take it out of daily use. Since we’ll still have the Element for cargo, we want to replace it with a compact car. Follow along as we go on the great compact car search of 2014. Last time, we drove the Scion IQ. This time it’s the Toyota Prius C.

The Great Compact Car Search of 2014: Toyota Prius C | This American House

When I bought a used 2007 Prius a year and a half ago, I became an instant fan of hybrid vehicles. Once you start averaging 45 MPG you start to feel like a chump for driving anything else – especially a small SUV that gets about 25 MPG at its best (I’m looking at you, Honda Element). Fuel economy is especially important now that we’re logging a lot of miles traveling between the city apartment and the “country house.” Now that Toyota has added a compact hybrid to their line with the Prius C, we decided to take a test drive as part of our car search.

The finishes on the 2014 Prius C Two that I drove feel a little cheaper when compared to my 2007 Prius. It’s a reminder that this is Toyota’s cheaper, entry level Prius. Since I drove the “Two” model, which is more in our price range for a compact car than the Three or Four, I wasn’t able to experience all the bells and whistles, like push button start and smart key.

2014 Prius C | This American House

There are steering wheel controls for radio, phone, climate and information (gas mileage, odometer, etc.). All of the car information appears beside the speedometer at the top of the dash, not quite in the center of the car but also not directly in front of the driver. It’s a good location for it, actually. The USB/Auxiliary port are also on the dash, over near the passenger side.

The heat and radio controls are intuitively placed on the center console. In my 2007 Prius, the heat is controlled via a touch screen in the middle of the car. This is a plus as far as I’m concerned. Call me an old fogey but I actually prefer dials and levers for controlling climate. In my opinion, fiddling with a screen is too distracting and takes my eyes off the road for too long.

The gas tank holds 9.5 gallons and fuel mileage is estimated at 50 MPG combined. If that’s true, we could drive over 450 miles on one tank of gas! To make the most of fuel consumption, the Prius has ECO and EV modes. The ECO mode modulates climate control and adjusts throttle response to maximize fuel economy. EV mode operates solely on the battery.

Now, about that test drive. The acceleration is what you would expect from a Prius. You won’t exactly be winning any drag races but it’s certainly not lagging either. There was more engine noise inside the cabin than I was expecting. Our 2007 Prius is relatively quiet, even when really pushing the pedal down to get onto the highway. As I accelerated onto the expressway in the Prius C, I could hear a great deal of engine noise. Still, the car drives nicely – it absorbs bumps and pot holes and steers around tight corners really well.

Verdict: The Prius C is definitely a top contender for our new car. Toyota’s high dependability record and the Prius’s fuel economy are both pluses.

More Toyota Prius C Information from Around the Web:

Images: 1. This American House, 2. Toyota

The Great Compact Car Search of 2014: Scion IQ

The Great Compact Car Search of 2014: Scion IQ | This American House

We’re in the market for a new car and we’re taking you along with us! It’s time to retire our 2005 Honda Element after 170,000 dependable miles. We’re going to keep the Element for hauling but it’s time to take it out of daily use. Since we’ll still have the Element for cargo, we want to replace it with a compact car. Follow along as we go on the great compact car search of 2014. First up…

2014 Scion IQ

We’re the kind of guys who were thrilled when the Smart Car arrived in the US. Those cute little two-seaters had us swooning on a trip to Europe back in 2001 and we contemplated getting one when they landed stateside. The Smart Car’s terrible service record and bad handling were enough to keep us from pulling the trigger. (Although it didn’t stop us from buying a Mini Cooper, a car that came with its own set of problems.)

Continue reading