The Mitsubishi Mirage is presently vying for the title of the cheapest car on sale in the U.S., but that's all set to change. New reports indicate that time may soon be up for the bargain-basement commuter car, at least in America.
According to sources speaking to Automotive News, the Mirage will leave the U.S. market by the middle of the decade. The humble car is presently available as both a hatchback and sedan. When it ends its run, sources indicated it will mark Mitsubishi's exit from the sedan segment entirely.
The Mitsubishi Mirage is one of a handful of cars with a manufacturer-suggested retail price under $20,000. It joins the Kia Rio, Forte, and Soul in this category, along with the Nissan Versa. It doesn't have the cheapest MSRP of the bunch, but in the real world, it's the only car that transacted for less than $20,000 last month, according to data from Cox Automotive.
For now, Mitsubishi is playing its cards close to its chest. Speaking to Automotive News, Mitsubishi spokesperson Jeremy Barnes didn't give a verdict on the Mirage's future with the company. All we know is that it's sticking around for the time being. "It's a vehicle that we still see as having a role in our portfolio at this time," said Barnes.
The Mirage sold 15,816 units in 2022. It may not sound like much, but it made up a significant proportion of Mitsubishi's U.S. sales last year. The beleaguered automaker sold just 85,810 vehicles across the U.S. in 2022. Mirage sales were still down 31% from 2021, though, and it's hard to see a ten-year-old budget hatch lighting up the sales charts anytime soon. It's struggling to shift units right now, and in 2023, is expected to sell less than half of its 26,966-unit peak in 2019.
Fundamentally, the Mirage's primary point of difference is that it's cheap. That's not a bad thing in and of itself, but the problem is that it looks cheap, and everybody knows that it's cheap. That alone is enough to push a lot of potential buyers to look at the competition or to consider buying a nicer used car instead. Its crash statistics paint an unappealing picture too, seeing it branded as the "deadliest car in America."
By 2025, the three-cylinder, 78-horsepower Mirage will be so out of date that ending production will make perfect sense. It also bears noting that Mitsubishi has already killed the Mirage in its home market of Japan, a place where small low-powered vehicles normally do well.
It's considered possible that Mitsubishi may bring its subcompact Xforce crossover to the U.S. to fill out the bottom of its range in future, taking the place formerly held by the Mirage. The affordable model is set to go on sale in Southeast Asia this year. It could prove much more appealing to today's consumers, who flock in far greater numbers to SUVs than traditional body styles like hatchbacks and sedans. However, it will likely need safety upgrades if it is to be sold in the U.S. market.
In any case, if you want an incredibly cheap and fuel-efficient new car, you've still got time to rush out and buy a Mirage. It would only take a small fraction of The Drive's readership to goose the sales numbers, so make sure to drop our name if you do head down to the dealership.
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