Mitsubishi gives its littlest car a big mid-lifecycle update

LOS ANGELES -- The Mitsubishi Mirage has always been a value purchase -- it offers one of the highest fuel economies for a gas-powered car while also being one of the cheapest vehicles on sale. It's the epitome of bang for your buck. For its mid-lifecycle refresh, Mitsubishi is packing a good deal of premium features into its pocket-sized hatchback.

The exterior features several redesigned elements, including the hood, grille, bumpers, fog lights, headlights, rear spoiler and wheels -- so, most of the exterior has been changed. The wheels take on a far more premium appearance, and the chrome touches in the front fascia add to that, as well. Projector headlamps and LED daytime running lights bring the Mirage's countenance into the 21st century.

Mitsubishi

Inside, Mitsubishi has upgraded the Mirage's seat patterns, steering wheel, gauge cluster and the panel around the shifter. There's a new piece of audio equipment available, too -- a 300-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system. The Mirage's Smartphone Link Display Audio infotainment system now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well.

The general engine specifications remain the same -- it's a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine -- but a new camshaft design bumps power output to a still-modest 78 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque. Manual and continuously variable transmissions remain available, and the latter comes with hill-start assist.

Under the body, Mitsubishi updated the springs and dampers to be slightly stiffer for better handling. In fact, the whole front end has been stiffened up for better on-road characteristics. Stopping power improves thanks to larger front disc brakes and rear drums, as well as revised brake shoe/pad material.

The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage will arrive at dealers in spring 2016. Pricing and market availability have not been mentioned.

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