The Truth About Cars » Mitsubishi The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Mitsubishi Review: 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES Sat, 19 Jul 2014 14:55:52 +0000  

Press Cars: just a Mirage? (all photos courtesy Sajeev Mehta)

Press Cars: just a Mirage? (all photos courtesy Sajeev Mehta)

Mitsubishi’s website claims the Mirage is a “small car for a big life.” Possible: while I haven’t done a TTAC review in over a year, know that even the rare automotive sampling of a ball of flaming garbage in a catapult possesses a modicum of engineering /styling/marketing prowess. Good cars exist everywhere, which is worthy of someone’s “big life.”

And contrary to the rash of negative press, the Mirage is an honest machine worthy of a closer look.

DSCN5986The Made in Thailand DNA is unmistakable: the Mirage feels like an aspirational vehicle for a growing middle class in an emerging market. Living outside of the American design bubble has its perks: peep that demure, wind cheating nose bearing no pretense to corporate branding (cough, Aston Martin grilles) for starters. The low-ish DLO provides excellent visibility without resorting to the artificially large/dorky greenhouses of yesteryear’s subcompacts. The top-line ES sports cheerful 14” alloys while color-keyed fog lights add modest flair to the base model’s surprisingly subtle and cool rear spoiler. You know, for a 5-door econobox.

DSCN5990So pop inside the Mirage’s surprisingly inviting cabin: headroom galore, not uncomfortable bucket seats, dressy black lacquer center stack sporting Rothko-worthy HVAC vents, leather(ish) wrapped wheel, power everything, keyless ignition (on the left like a 911) and admirable ergonomics encased in richly grained, tightly constructed plastics that look more expensive than their fossilized demeanor suggests. That infamous road test mentioned airbag flash casting, which my test Mirage had instead on the E-brake handle. To see such cheapness on a new car under 13 grand ($15,195 as-tested) was horrifying I tell you!

DSCN6006Genuine gripes for a car this cheap? No center armrest, and the small cargo area means the (comfortable) rear seats must fold down for modest amounts of luggage. No biggie, except getting them back up without snagging the shoulder belts in the latch mechanism is a challenge. But the inability to stream audio (SoundCloud) from an iPhone 4 via the glovebox’s USB plug got on my nerves. It defaulted to iTunes, which I rarely use. And forget music when Google Maps’ turn-by-turn navigation is on: since I was denied the best Mirage-related song on the face of the earth, here it is.

Click here to view the embedded video.

DSCN6017And while bright colors add necessary excitement to a bottom rung hatchback, my Radioactive Blue Mirage fought its purple-flecked seat fabrics to no end. Cheap cars rightly show their exterior paint around interior window frames, a colorblind seat fabric is necessary. Feng Shui aside, color coding on the (power) door locks wouldn’t hurt: the lever needs a red decal to warn of threats from potential carjackers from an unlocked portal.

DSCN5997Fire up the Mirage and a pleasant (if you appreciate any mechanical sound) bellow from the three-banger mill makes it clear: this is an honest machine from another era. Even with electronics behind the 7 airbags, ABS, electric steering and active handling nanny in tow, the Mirage provides an unhindered driving joy coming from a suspension managing a mere 2051 lbs. Driving dynamics occasionally delight with its flat powerband, even with the CVT in lieu of a proper 5-speed. Bargain basement fun was a simple trick away. Check it:

Dial into the 1-ton Mirage’s occasionally communicative steering and toss it a corner (off-throttle) and the low-rolling resistance, tall profile rubber holds on with modest body roll. Now mash the throttle a good 2 seconds before hitting your intended apex. Do it right and you’ll fling out the corner with all 74 horses’ howling in passionate protest. Try to stop smiling as traffic becomes a dot in the rear-view.

DSCN5984And on the remote chance you built enough steam for a rapid stop, the vented disc/drum combination is more than adequate for the street. Even the twist-beam axle plays well on bumpy roads, further testament to the joy of a lightweight car.

DSCN6007Forcing the Mirage’s CVT into submission is moderately more infuriating than today’s auto-erratic transaxles. Yet, considering the efficiency boost, the autobox is done: the EPA’s 37/44MPG were matched and quickly surpassed. Light traffic (40-50mph) rewarded with a stunning 50.2 MPG from my house to the local Tesla gallery. And that’s with this featherweight’s (surprisingly robust and standard) automatic temperature control HVAC cranked!

As the 3-pot Mirage burbled buzzed idled next to the Tesla, I pondered if these radical electronic wonders are $85,000-ish better than a 50+ MPG hatchback. Is anything really that much better?

10372084_10152226017973269_3590992957388189892_nQuirky shit-can vibe aside, the Mirage cruises like a larger car, spanking the Smart ForTwo in both speed and stability. While acceleration is never rapid, the CVT keeps the Mirage in its powerband, hovering around 5000 revs. Mash the throttle around 70mph and the CVT revs to 6000, netting acceleration no slower than lower speeds. (In Houston, near sea level.) It’s still molasses slow with a loud engine, but with insane aerodynamics (small frontal area, 0.28 cd) it works. Witness this Easter Egg in the owner’s manual: a Highway Patrol speed warning for another journalist.

10452467_10152230027413269_1482059042706384612_nAnd upon the realization that running the Mirage at 10/10ths is a fool’s errand, one’s rewarded with a ride that soaks up both huge potholes and small pavement imperfections with precision. Impact harshness, so prevalent in modern cars with 18+ inch wheels, is literally smothered by Low Carb Panther Love.

Should you buy the Mirage over its sub-15k competition, or any “superior” used car? Maybe, but given the combo of a low asking price, $1000 rebate with 1.9% APR (this month), robust 10-year warranty and new car smell unavailable in used cars, you’d be forgiven for heading straight to a Mitsubishi dealer, using the extra monthly cash for food, gas, shelter, children, baby momma/daddy drama, medical bills, credit card debt, college debt…see where I’m going with this?

The similarly priced Chevy Spark could excel, depending on incentives. A larger, safer used car gives a fighting chance against wayward SUVs threatening a harsh lesson in the Laws of Physics. But Mitsubishi claims the Mirage meets their (modest) sales goals for good reason: it’s kinda fun and gets the job done with mad respect for your wallet.  And I appreciate that.

DSCN5995Your opinion of our society’s demand for easy credit and “need” for new car smell aside, the Mirage is a valid transportation opportunity for many Americans. If a Mitsubishi dealer is within easy reach, a cost-benefit analysis is certainly on the table.

(Mitsubishi provided the test vehicle, insurance and a full tank of gas for this review.)


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Mitsubishi’s Stay Of Evo Execution Good ‘Till 2015 Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:33:00 +0000 550x412xEvo-front-550x412.jpg.pagespeed.ic.sySVWKmhND

First the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was slated to die immediately. Then, we got a reprieve. But now it appears that the Evo’s last mile is in sight.

According to Jalopnik, Mitsubishi has confirmed that the Evo will stick around, but only for one more model year. Unfortunately, the Evo doesn’t seem to fit within Mitsubishi’s overarching vision as a maker of environmentally friendly vehicles, as evidenced by their statement below

Mitsubishi Motors does not have any plans to design a successor with the current concept such as a high-performance four-wheel-drive gasoline-powered sedan. Mitsubishi Motors will explore the possibilities of high-performance models that incorporate electric vehicle technology. Moving forward, the technology honed in the Lancer evolution model will continue to be advanced and proactively incorporated into future models.

With the i-MiEV and the Outlander PHEV, Mitsubishi is making a concerted effort to pivot towards a lineup where green technology, rather than performance, is the focus of their brand. The Evo runs counter to this in nearly every way possible. The Lancer is also an ancient vehicle by auto industry standards, with the Subaru Impreza already moving on to the next generation even though both cars were all-new in 2007. If you want one, better hurry…the Evo XI is likely going to look more like today’s crop of hybrid hypercars than any rally homologation special.

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Mitsubishi: U.S.-Bound 2016 Outlander PHEV “Will Be Completely Different” Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:00:36 +0000 03-2014-mitsubishi-outlander-fd

Perhaps as a result of what Mitsubishi had learned thus far since the introduction of the Outlander PHEV in Europe, Japan and Australia — as well as a MY 2016 redesign — the United States-bound PHEV “will be completely different,” according to both Mitsubishi Motors North America Executive Vice President Don Swearingen and U.S. PR boss Alex Fedorak.

Autoblog reports the SUV — now set to arrive in November 2015 — will have an interior with materials that look and feel “less value-oriented,” while its battery monitor can look each cell along with the overall pack. It will also likely take its styling cues from the GC-PHEV and XR-PHEV concepts, both debuting at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Show last November.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Outlander Sport may soon possess a 2.4-liter I4 to go with its 2-liter variant as Fedorak and his employer’s dealer network discuss what needs to be done to make the bigger engine a better sell; early results point to stronger highway overtaking ability.

Finally, although Mitsubishi’s long-term goal is to evolve into “an SUV/crossover-type company,” cars will still have a role in the near-term, especially the Mirage compact. Despite most publications giving the Mirage a good thrashing — though our rising superstar managing editor had a different sort of thrashing in mind — Fedorak claims the compact is outselling both the Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris; the latter is ahead of the Mitsubishi by 265 units through the end of June.

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Nissan: 633 CHAdeMO Fast Chargers Available For Use Today, More Coming Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 nissan-leaf-using-chademo-fast-charger_100457004_l

Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013.

Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that number within 18 months. Nissan North America senior manager of corporate communications Brian Brockman announced last week that his employer had gone above and beyond by bringing online nearly 500 units in the time period, with all listed on PlugShare.

As for the rest of FY 2014, Nissan will push forward to bring more CHAdeMO stations online, from its network of dealerships, to top Leaf markets such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houston. Meanwhile, another vehicle will be able to make use of the chargers when the 2015 Kia Soul EV goes on sale later on this summer.

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Mexico To Get Chrysler Badged Mitsubishi Mirage Sedan Tue, 01 Jul 2014 14:30:27 +0000 450x298xMirage-3-450x298.jpg.pagespeed.ic.VKV1nWF4YE

It turns out that news of an Asian-market Chrysler sedan that was a re-badged Mitsubishi Mirage wasn’t entirely accurate.

The sedan in question is actually heading for Mexico, according to this announcement from Mitsubishi. Interestingly, a report by Just-Auto which denied the initial report also said that the Mirage sedan would be heading to Canada. Mitsubishi showed the car off at this year’s Toronto Auto Show, but had no firm plans for selling the car.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Dodge Colt Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:00:15 +0000 08 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy the final years of the Malaise Era, Chrysler had their econobox needs covered on the one hand by much-modified rebadged Simcas, and on the other by not-at-all-modified rebadged Mitsubishis. These cars were no worse than their Ford and GM competitors (which isn’t saying much), but the inherent cheapness of the 4th-gen Mitsubishi-built Colt meant that most of them weren’t worth fixing after about 1992, and these cars are rare indeed nowadays. In this series, we’d seen just one example of this generation of Colt/Mirage/Champ prior to today’s find.
05 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one was parked illegally in Hayward, California, and the owner couldn’t or wouldn’t rescue it before the tow-truck man came to take it on its last ride.
09 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy any sort of 21st-century standards, these cars sucked. They were noisy, rattly, slow, and broke down a lot. However, we are now living in the Golden Age of Miserable Little Econoboxes, where even the diminished-expectations Versa and Spark are perfectly pleasant transportation applicances, and so it just isn’t fair to apply 21st-century standards to the ’81 Colt.
01 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust imagine you’re listening to Debbie Harry “rap” about Fab Five Freddy on the AM radio and getting 40 mpg in the grim years after the Ayatollah jacked up gas prices and this car makes more sense.
11 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot much attempt was made to obscure the Japanese origins of this car, though the same could not be said of the French origins of the Omni/Horizon.

Perhaps Chrysler should have gone with the Japan-market ads for this car.

Imported for Dodge!

01 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]> 44
FCA To Sell Re-Badged Mitsubshi Mirages In Colt Redux Fri, 27 Jun 2014 05:39:33 +0000 450x299x2014-Mitsubishi-Mirage-G4-Sedan-_1_-450x299.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Rng2LL-6MC

Chrysler will re-badge the Mitsubishi Attrage (the sedan version of the much-loved Mitsubishi Mirage) for sale in Asian markets. Sounds crazy, right? Not really.

Chrysler has a history of selling small Mitsubishis under their own brand in North America, but the agreement with Mitsubishi will cover Asia, a region where Chrysler has never been particularly strong. No specific markets or brand decisions were announced for the Thai-built sedan, but we’d like to humbly suggest a name for the new car: the Colt.

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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Big In The UK Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:00:49 +0000 03-2013-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-paris

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV may not be coming to the United States until sometime between the autumn of 2015 and early 2016, but United Kingdom customers are already lining up at their local dealerships for a test drive of the SUV that can be had for the same price as its diesel sibling.

Cambridge News reports one particular dealership, Duxford Motor Group, had conducted 23 test drives during the two-day launch of the PHEV earlier this month, with 40 to 50 parties rebooked for test drives due to its fiscal popularity. According to sales executive Alex Dunn, the Outlander PHEV retails for £28,250 ($48,150 USD) — which includes a government tax credit of £5,000 ($8,522 USD) — the same price as the 2.2-liter diesel variant, and comes with other benefits, as well:

100 per cent write-down in first year, which is a first for employers, and if you’re an employee it’s 5 per cent Benefit in Kind which is astonishing. This is one of very few vehicles which is congestion-charge free and it’s not a little car, it’s a five-seater four-wheel drive vehicle, so it ticks so many boxes fotr [sic] people who perhaps wouldn’t have come to our door before – fans of all the big brands are coming to see us. It’s a tough car too – rock-solid and super-reliable.

The PHEV has an all-electric range of 32 imperial miles before the 2-liter gasoline engine takes over, and delivers 148 mpg between the engine and two electric motors.

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The Dakota That Could Have Been Tue, 03 Jun 2014 14:23:48 +0000 2009-2011_Mitsubishi_Triton_(MN)_GL-R_4-door_utility_01

Sometime around 2012, a Ram Trucks source told TTAC about an investigation into a smaller pickup for the brand, one that could have even turned out to be a front-drive pickup. “We won’t do another Dakota,” said our source, “but maybe something else.”. By all accounts, that truck would have been based on one of Fiat’s small, unibody front-drive pickups. But now, Fiat seems to want a Dakota of its own.

Automotive News reports that Fiat will get a new body-on-frame midsize truck starting in 2016, which will be a variant of the Mitsubishi L200. The Thai-built L200 is a smaller, body-on-frame pickup with rear or four-wheel drive and both gasoline and diesel engines, making it a good fit for Fiat’s commercial vehicle lineup. And it’s very likely that we’ll never seen it here.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters at the most recent 5-year plan that FCA had tried out a smaller truck at clinics, but was unable to wow the crowd, let alone make a business case for such a truck. The L200 isn’t homologated for North America either, and a smaller truck isn’t a great fit for FCA in terms of CAFE either. FCA is already lagging behind other OEMs in terms of CAFE footprint, and small trucks are one of the worst vehicles when it comes to meeting those standards.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage Fri, 30 May 2014 17:40:14 +0000 ???????????????????????????????

Deep within the comments of a recent luxury vehicle review, a familiar, satirical exchange takes place:

Googleplex:                       The pixel-density on the new touch system is passable, but LCD screens in cars in 2014 are laughable. Have these people even heard of AMOLED?

MauraudStar:                    Panther Love knows no touchscreens, my friend.

MoparMalaise:                 Panther Love knows no rich Corinthian leather, either.

VivaVega:                           We lost the war against fuel injection in the 1980’s, and I’m not about to give up the rest of my control to electronic nannies. Spare me your all-wheel drive, your dual-clutch transmissions and the 30 years of weight gain! Why can’t someone build a simple, functional car anymore?

Will any manufacturer answer VivaVega’s question? Enter the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage.

This isn’t the first time Mitsubishi has sold a subcompact with the Mirage nameplate. The first generation Mirage debuted in 1978. (You might be more familiar with it as the fourth gen Dodge Colt or Plymouth Champ). Mitsubishi’s fortunes waxed and waned over the next three decades, and the Mirage was eventually discontinued in 2003. The name was revived in 2012, and North American exports started for model year 2014.

So how far have we come since 1978? Generation one was notable mostly for its fuel efficiency and price. Braking was handled by vented discs in the front and drums in the back. Seventy horses were corralled in a 1.4 liter four-cylinder engine. Overall weight ranged from just 1,700 to 1,984 pounds.

Generation six, represented by today’s 2014 specimen, is notable for fuel efficiency and price. Braking is handled by vented discs in the front and drums in the back. Seventy-four horses are corralled up in a 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine. Overall weight is just 1,973 manufacturer-stated pounds.

Wait… what?

Yup. 1,973 pounds in a street-legal 2014 with seven airbags, five seats, four wheels and a compact spare tire. A modern Mirage’s weight and power may be indistinguishable from its groovy forefathers, but the equipment list certainly isn’t – standard features include keyless entry, air conditioning, a 140 watt stereo, and powered windows, locks and mirrors. Not too shabby for $13,805 (DE trim with 5-speed manual at MSRP plus destination).

Most sales volume is expected to come from the ES trim with a CVT. Parting with $16,005 adds fog lights, 14” alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, passive entry and a push-start button that curiously resides to the left of the steering wheel.


How are these prices accomplished? The manufacturing location certainly plays a role. Much hay has been made on TTAC about the viability of Chinese-manufactured cars in North America. Open the Mirage’s hatch (or eventual trunk in the Canadian market) and take a whiff. That ain’t wasabi, but it ain’t dim sum either. Hope you like Thai!

Most likely, the Mirage is a small start to a large trend. While just 7,200 Mirage’s are forecasted for the US market this year, Thailand is already a major regional automotive exporter. Automotive News pegged Thai automotive production at 2.45 million vehicles in 2012, and over a million were exported. Other nameplates, most notably the Ford Fiesta, will also exported to North American from Thailand over the next few years.


Small export volume certainly helps account for the Mirage’s nondescript, global looks. Styling a vehicle 148.8 inches long and 59 inches tall is tough, but Mitsubishi could have done worse (the i-Miev comes to mind). The scant grill looks a bit odd, but it does help the Mirage achieve an impressive coefficient of drag – just 0.28. The spectrum of available colors – bright green, blue, red, even a noxious purple – is a welcome change from the white, black and grey Mitsubishi could have certainly made a business case for.


So the exterior is cheap and maybe even a bit cheerful. Does the interior continue the theme? Unfortunately, no. Plastics are hard and drab as expected, but they are also severely straightforward. Unlike the Fiat 500, there is no playfulness or fashion in the design. The experience is aesthetically similar to Korean vehicles designed in the early 2000s. Fit and finish is similar too – a few trim pieces didn’t line up well, and exposed fasteners are easy to find.

Functionality isn’t following form, but it still isn’t flawless. Driver controls are simple, but only one cupholder is available in the rear. The roofline enables decent cargo capacity in the hatch, but the only dome light is up front near the driver. Rear leg room is surprisingly good, but the contourless rear bench forces passengers in back to brace themselves during routine urban maneuvers.


The suspension’s constant body roll can be blamed for some of that. Ride quality was better than anticipated though, and the brakes felt decent. Still, understeer is high, tire grip is low and the electric power steering is poorly implemented. Enthusiasm just isn’t welcome here. Count me out of Derek’s spec-Mirage racing series.

The powertrain never promised fun though, just efficiency. The 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine manages 34 city/42 highway/37 combined with the five-speed manual and 37 city/44 highway/40 combined with the CVT. Mitsubishi claims the Mirage has the best combined non-hybrid efficiency in the US (Ford’s three-cylinder Fiesta scores 32/45/37). The CVT gets clunky around complete stops, but it is mostly helpful on the road. The car is never fast, but it did feel wholly adequate for use around town with occasional interstate jaunts.

Considering the physical dimensions, budget and powertrain, Mitsubishi succeeded in crafting a very efficient, mostly normal driving experience. They deserve applause for that. Unfortunately, they won’t hear it due to the Mirage’s abnormally high noise levels.

I’ll be frank – the Mirage is the loudest passenger car I can remember driving in the last five years. Only jackhammer operators and cross-country motorcycle riders could describe it as “not too bad.” At idle, the engine note varies somewhere between a warble and an unsteady growl. Rumble up to highways speeds, and the turn signals are nearly inaudible. My wife, a decidedly mainstream consumer, felt the noise levels let down the rest of the car.

Vibration will also be problematic for the average Joe. The passenger seat shook at idle, and a constant tingle could be felt through the steering wheel. The three-holer doesn’t generate Peterbilt-grade rumble, but buzz is always present. Like the 2014 Outlander I recently drove, the brand-new Mirage also had a constant interior squeak.

So where does the Mirage stand? The Chevy Spark’s fuel efficiency falls short, but the design is more upbeat. A Nissan Versa is larger and can be configured cheaper, but its warranty is bested by the Mirage’s 10-year guarantee. The used market offers myriad possibilities, but buying new is a point of pride for many consumers.

Many people say they just want something cheap that runs. Consider the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage their litmus test.

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Mitsubishi Evo Gets A Stay Of Execution Thu, 29 May 2014 14:47:49 +0000 Lancer5

Although we previously reported that the Mitsubishi Evolution was slated to die for the 2015 model year, it appears that the Evo has been granted a last minute reprieve.

Our colleagues at AutoGuide spoke to a Mitsubishi Motors North America spokesperson, who confirmed that the Evo would be sticking around for 2015, with production commencing in July. Those looking for an alternative to the Subaru WRX/STI now have an extra year to get take home one of the most pure performance cars…in the wurrlldd.

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PSA, Mitsubishi May End EV Partnership Thu, 22 May 2014 04:01:03 +0000 CITROËN_C-ZERO,_2012,_IFEVI

PSA and Mitsubishi may discontinue their electric vehicle partnership in the next 12 months, according to PSA CEO Carlos Tavares.

Speaking to a government body related to economic affairs, Tavares said that PSA would be re-evaluating the arrangement, which has PSA selling the Mitsubishi i-MiEV under the Citroen and Peugeot brands.

According to Reuters, sales of the PSA branded EVs are down dramatically, from a combined 6,222 units in 2013 to 1106 in 2014. Despite this, Tavares cited the strength of the yen as a possible factor for the partnership’s fate.

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New or Used: Can One Car Last Through Five Kids? Fri, 18 Apr 2014 22:58:29 +0000 brady1

I currently have three cars and I feel a hankering to buy a fourth. My wife has bought into the idea, now it’s just a matter of what to get.

The particulars:

- Five kids between the ages of 5 and 15…

- Active duty military with seven (7!) moves since 2005 with a couple more likely over the next several years
- Three current cars are all paid for
- Commute is 35 highway miles each way and will be that way for at least the next 18 months and maybe longer
- Car #1 – 2006 Honda Odyssey with ~120,000 miles (bought new)
- Car #2 – 2007 Honda Accord 5 speed with ~83,000 miles (bought used)
- Car #3 – 1969 Jeepster Commando that’s been in my family since 1973.

Our oldest turns 16 in a few months and we’d like to get a vehicle that the kids can all drive over the next 13 years. Note that I said ‘a’ vehicle as we keep our cars a long time and don’t intend on getting another car for the kids to share. One and done.

What should that fourth vehicle be? I see really only two paths that make sense.

First option: Get a car that pushes 40+mpg to ease the pain at the pump my commute causes. Possible vehicle: my Dad is selling his 2011 Jetta TDI 5 speed wagon this fall and I have dibs, if I so choose. This option would mean that the kids would drive the Accord, which we’re fine with.

Second option: Get something that can double as the kids’ car and that we can use to tow the Commando on our future moves. This means I would keep commuting in my Accord, which is also fine. Budget is about $7K max and we’ll pay cash.

We are leaning strongly towards getting a third gen 4Runner (’96-’01) with a V6, 4×4 and tow package as the min requirements. Manual is highly desired but not required. There are several for sale where we live (north of LA) and examples with 150-175k miles can be found for around $5k, although most are automatics. Reviews and 4Runner forums seem to portend good news regarding longevity with relatively straight forward maintenance required. My fear? My vehicle aperture isn’t nearly wide enough and that there are lots of other good options out there that we’re not considering. Whatever the fourth vehicle ends up being, there isn’t a requirement that it be able to carry all seven of us.

I leave it in your capable hands. What does your magic 8 ball say? (It better not say to buy a Panther, ’cause it ain’t happening!)


Steve Says

I like your first option the best.

If your kids learn how to drive a stick (good move there!), they will eventually get a far better vehicle in the marketplace as they get older and more independent.

As a car dealer circa 2014, it amazes me how so few people know how to drive a stick these days. When it comes to older vehicles, I find that sticks will go for about 15% to 35% cheaper than their automatic counterparts with a few notable exceptions

I still buy a lot of em’ for retail, and although they sit at my lot for longer periods of time, they also attract customers who are far more conscientious about maintenance and upkeep. This helps me when it comes to financing these rides. Since a car that is well kept tends to have fewer issues.

As for option 2, yes, the Toyota 4Runner has an excellent long-term reliability record. But let me throw in an alternative that will cost thousands less and have a solid reliability record as well.

I would consider a Mitsubishi Montero  from the early 2000′s. If you buy one with the 3.5 Liter, they are virtually bulletproof, and the kids will benefit from a higher seating position.  The gas mileage will remain abysmal. But in the real world the 3.5 Liter in the Montero will get you a vehicle with about half the miles of the 4Runner for the same price, and the reliability of that particular powertrain is solid (<—click).

Maintenance history is critically important when buying older SUV’s because a lot of them are neglected and inevitably hot-potatoed in the used car market . So get it independently inspected and only opt for ones that have a strong maintenance regimen. Otherwise you will also be buying someone else’s problems.

Good luck! Oh, and if you decide to not buy an older SUV, I have a beige on beige Toyota Solara with a V6, no CD player, and a hand shaker in between the front seats. I’m thinking about naming it, “The Rolling Leper” in honor if it more or less being an unsellable car.

If you don’t have to tow, go find the west coast version of a low-spec Solara. In a non-rust climate like central California, I think a car like that would probably be the optimal fit.

All the best.

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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Arrives In UK Showrooms Minus Premium Price Fri, 04 Apr 2014 12:04:34 +0000 03-2013-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-paris

Already available throughout Europe, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is now just arriving in United Kingdom showrooms at a post-credit price tag of £28,249 ($47,000 USD).

Autoblog Green reports the plug-in hybrid SUV without the £5,000 credit would start at £33,249 ($55,000 USD), but with the credit, the starting price is around the same level as its diesel-powered sibling, thus allowing UK consumers to pick the SUV they want without worrying too much about affordability.

As for what they will get out of their Outlander PHEV, the hybrid has a range of 32 miles in all-electric at a limited speed of 75 mph, and can tow over 3,000 lbs.

On sale now, the first SUVs will arrive in May, with the PHEV arriving in the United States in 2015, which will share a facelift with its U.S.-based gasoline-powered twin. No word on how the PHEV will be priced in the U.S.

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Mitsubishi Buys Laguna Ford Assembly Plant Tue, 01 Apr 2014 17:06:25 +0000 Mitsubishi_L300_front_20081009

In a push to expand Southeast Asia sales, Mitsubishi has purchased a Ford assembly plant in Laguna, Philippines for an undisclosed amount.

Automotive News reports the plant, which last saw production in 2012, will start back up in 2015 with an initial capacity of 50,000 units per year, expanding to 100,000 annually. The plant will produce both the Adventure and L300 vans.

The second plant in the automaker’s Philippine portfolio, Laguna is key to underpinning Mitsubishi’s strength in the Southeast Asia market, especially in the emerging local auto market where the automaker is second to Toyota in annual sales.

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TTAC Salutes: The Mitsubishi Evo Tue, 01 Apr 2014 12:00:44 +0000 2011_mitsubishi_evo2_feature_rdax_646x396

Japan’s greatest rally special. The M5 for the Playstation generation. The only decent car Mitsubishi ever made. Different people associate the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with different enthusiast tropes. For me, the Evo will always be inextricably linked to heartbreak.

Early in my career as an automotive journalist, I managed to wrangle a red Evo MR (above) for a week-long road test. A weekend trip to visit my then girlfriend ended in a very humiliating public breakup, and a 100 mile drove home in near-blizzard conditions.

The breakup, though minor in retrospect, served as a trigger for the kind of emotional anguish that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I was an animated example of every post-breakup cliche: unable to listen to certain songs, all too able to ingest excess amounts of alcohol, unwilling to get out of bed in the morning, incapable of focusing on my work or personal responsibilities. I steadfastly avoided anything that had even the slightest association with my ex. Except the Evo.

For some unknown reason, the local press fleet manager had another Evo, an MR model in the dark graphite color that was so popular a few years ago. Nobody seemed to want it. When I’d check for available cars, the Evo was always kicking around, and I was always there to borrow it. I ended up driving on three different week long stints, and it never lost its lustre.

On the continuum of “superlative performance cars with humble origins”, the Evo is somewhere between an Integra Type-R and an Escort Cosworth. It still retains the vestigial shape, drivetrain configuration and hard points as the regular Lancer, but beyond that, there is little commonality.

The base Lancer is meant to be cheap, practical transportation for global C-segment consumers. The Evo is not cheap to buy or to own (thanks to a small tank and a thirsty powertrain, good luck getting above 12 mpg). About the only concession to practicality it makes is the fact that it has two doors and a barely passable rear seat. Between the fuel tank, the all-wheel drive system, the pureile subwoofer and the battery, the trunk can barely hold more than a carry-on suitcase. The interior is an embarrassment and the Mitsubishi brand – from the dealer experience to the name itself to having to tell people you drive one – is dismal.

In return, you get one of the most visceral, thrilling driving experiences available at any prices. The Evo is not a rival to a Subaru WRX or a Focus ST or a Golf R. It would not be hyperbolic to liken its qualitative traits to something exotic. The steering is more similar to a Lotus Evora than anything else, while the handling defies verbal explanation. Dynamically, it’s as capable as a Nissan GT-R, but without the clinical, disconnected personality, and the turbocharged 4-cylinder powertrain, with its overwhelming induction noise and unrefined dual-clutch gearbox, is the welterweight version of the GT-R’s mighty twin turbo V6.

No wonder it’s going to be put to sleep. In a marketplace full of commoditized boxes with in-dash iPads, CAFE-driven two-point-oh-tee engines and reverse teardrop styling, the Evo is a relic of a time when performance wasn’t equated with profligacy and planetary destruction. There’s simply no place for the Evo anymore.

But that’s nothing new either. When I penned my earlier piece for TTAC, it looked like the Evo was on its way out as well. At the time, I felt it was a fitting metaphor for a particular stage in my life, one that took supreme importance to me at the age of 22, but was long in the past for most of the B&B. Now that I’m a little older and a little more experienced, I think about the Evo’s demise in its proper context, as the last of a particular breed of Japanese performance car - one ungoverned by profit & loss, economies of scale and other realities for auto makers doing business in the 21st century.

The new crop will look a lot different – a new hybrid NSX, a Supra built with BMW, a Nissan sports coupe with only a CVT. But it won’t look too different either. We still have the FR-S, the new WRX, and a Miata that will be as light as it was in 1990. But there won’t be an Evo. And we’re worse off for that.

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Mitsubishi Kills Off Lancer Evolution Mon, 31 Mar 2014 13:06:21 +0000 550x410xIMG_2034-550x410.jpg.pagespeed.ic.GRcaCarU4s

This generation of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution will be the last, according to Automotive News. Although no firm date was given, Mitsubishi did confirm that there will be no successor to the tenth generation Evo.

Instead, a potential successor would likely incorporate some kind of electrification, with a Mitsubishi spokesperson telling AN

“Mitsubishi Motors does not have any plans to design a successor with the current concept, as a high-performance four-wheel drive gasoline-powered sedan…Mitsubishi Motors will explore the possibilities of high-performance models that incorporate electric vehicle technology.”

Mitsubishi is looking to re-focus on utility vehicles, electric cars and other volume models as it combats an increasingly competitive marketplace. The next Lancer is widely expected to come from Renault Samsung, so Mitsubishi can focus resources on development of electric vehicles.

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Hammer Time: The Mitsubishi Banana Mon, 24 Mar 2014 09:00:11 +0000 ec6

Otherwise known as the Mitsubishi Eclipse.

No car has better embodied the sad decline of a once competitive automaker.

Awkward styling. Poor interior space and wonky ergonomics. Plus, you got a double whammy if you decided to keep them in the arid parts of the country.

Thin flaky paint… and a weird flaw with the glues and vinyls used on the dashboard. The net effect of which is…



Now don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of other vehicles that suffer a similar fate — especially here in the heat enriched world that is Hotlanta.


The Ford Taurus dashes are legendary for their ability to serve as cubbyholders for your paperwork. If it’s late-90′s model that doesn’t get garaged, this storage space comes standard.


Kia products were even worse during the early 2000′s. Part of this was abated by the long warranties that Kia offered to compensate for the second-rate glues, foam paddings and adhesives. Even today though, the headliners and dash materials for their older used cars don’t seem to be holding up to Kia’s  aspirations for value and quality.


But the worst of them, the crème de la crème of substandard materials with nary a fix in sight, goes to Mitsubishi.


The good news is you can buy a 2006 Eclipse that has been well kept for all of $4000 these days at a wholesale auction and if you fix them up, they can be retailed for around $5000 to $6000. Not a bad price for a sporty vehicle that came from a manufacturer that offers surprising reliability on their four-cylinder models.

The hard part is fixing those peeling bananas on the dash. There seems to be no enduring fix for this cosmetic ailment because the foam rots from within..


So to make it an enduring fix, you have to replace it all.  Then you have the paint issues which were thankfully rectified in later model years. As for the earlier ones? Consider a basecoat/clearcoat paint job and a healthy level of waxing to keep it looking good.

It’s a shame because, at least in mind, no car has been more important to the successes of Mitsubishi than the first generation Eclipse. The image of that model as a class leader could have set the stage for a long, long list of Mitsubishis that were both sporty and practical.

Instead we ended up with this…




and this…


What’s your take? Is it worth it for Mitsubishi to invest in a recall for the last of these rolling dodos? Or does the sordid memory of a defunct model deserve to be buried and forgotten?


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Capsule Review: 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander SE FWD Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:55:56 +0000 2014-Mitsubishi-Outlander-2

A week ago, I asked the Best and Brightest for help in understanding my wife’s desire for a 7-seat vehicle. Uninhibited by the premise of the question, recommendations on what to buy poured in:

  • Honda CR-V
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Planned Parenthood gift certificate
  • Cadillac XTS in Pearl White Tricoat
  • Dodge Caravan
  • Anything except a Dodge Caravan

Several readers submitted well-formulated responses, but the volume of possibilities was dizzying. Mitsubishi may have had a similar problem when redesigning the 2014 Outlander.

At most automakers, product planning is a tough job. Keep things too similar between generations and you risk falling behind. Stray too far from a successful formula and you end up with the second generation Scion xB. Every mistake is an expensive one.

But what about Mitsubishi? The previous generation Outlander was one of the cheaper, sportier rides in the segment and featured unique touches like magnesium shift paddles, a trick two-piece tailgate and an aluminum roof. Per data from TTAC contributor Timothy Cain on Good Car Bad Car, Mitsubishi’s best year for the Outlander was in 2003, with just over 34,000 sold. Crossover sales grew exponentially over the ensuing years, but only 7,750 Outlanders found homes in 2012.

With so few customers to alienate, almost any change would boost sales. So did Mitsubishi double down on sportiness or some other niche? Not really – at least not yet. A PHEV is coming, but for now we are left with a page borrowed from the 2012 Civic’s playbook – decreased MSRPs and a still-cheap interior.

Let’s start by giving credit where credit is due. Prospective buyers can make their own value propositions, but the Outlander is undeniably affordable. A base-trim ES, which includes a 166 hp 2.4 liter SOHC four-cylinder, a CVT, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry and auto-off headlights, costs $23,820 including destination ($200 less than last year). For $24,620, the SE adds in 18-inch alloy wheels, proximity entry, push-button start, heated front seats, a 6.1 inch touchscreen display with a rear camera and the FUSE hands-free system. Super All-Wheel Control, better known as “all-wheel drive” to everyone outside Diamond Star forums, is optional on the mid-level SE and standard on the top-shelf GT ($28,620).

Choosing the GT also yields a 224 hp 3.0 V6, a “Sportronic” six-speed automatic transmission and enables the privilege of ordering the $6,100 Touring package. For over 25% of the base price, this package includes radar-based cruise control, leather seats, a lane departure system and other gadgets.  Apparently, no amount of money can improve the integration of these toys though. Cheap touches like a slap-dash ignition-hole cover on push-start models, left a poor impression.

Regardless of trim level, the Outlander did well in NHSTA and IIHS crash testing. The “good” score on the IIHS small overlap front test, a rarity right now, should be very marketable compared to competing 2014 models.  Fuel economy is also competitive – 25 EPA city, 31 highway, 27 combined for units with FWD, the inline four and a CVT. This efficiency is certainly aided by a curb weight as low as 3,274 pounds in the FWD ES trim.

An increased use of high-strength steel in the crash structure gets some credit for the lithe curb weight, but where did the rest of the savings come from? The recently-reviewed Cherokee weighs about 700 pounds more with just FWD, and even a Dodge Dart weighs 3,348 pounds with the 2.4 and an automatic. Both the Cherokee and Dart are lauded for being relatively quiet vehicles though. Can the Outlander make this claim?

NO. I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MANY DECIBELS WE EXPERIENCED WHEN CRUISNG AT 70 MPH, BUT MY WIFE AND I HAD TO TALK LIKE THIS. Road noise is pervasive, but the inline four will likely be the bigger issue for most drivers.

Show me a raucous, performance-tuned engine, and I’ll smile.  Show me another Outlander with the 2.4, and I’ll groan – like the MIVEC. From the parking lot to the freeway, the engine constantly made itself known. More sound-deadening is a must.

Interior fit and finish also need another round of polishing. It may have just been an issue with the dealer’s specimen I drove, but a constant dash rattle was a disappointment. My wife’s car has 86,000 miles and rattles. My car has 145,000 miles and rattles. This car had 21 miles and rattled. That isn’t progress.

As expected, the 2.4 and CVT provide a driving experience best described as “imitation vanilla”. While not inappropriate for a crossover, most competitors offer more polished, anodyne experiences. Acceleration around town was acceptable, but highway passing required planning. Good visibility in all directions was a positive, and maneuverability in and out of tight spaces was good. Still, I don’t disagree with TTAC alum Michael Karesh describing the suspension as “under-damped”. I also found the electric steering to require constant adjustments on-center, even at city speeds.

Driving dynamics may not be a big deal in this segment, but aesthetics can be. I’ll leave the critical analysis to our in-house styling expert, but a schnoz this unique needs to be mentioned. The shark-nosed Outlander (2010-2013) drew neutral-to-positive responses from everyone I spoke to. The 2014 generally left those same people puzzled. Mitsubishi needs to stand out from the herd to survive, but this may not be the best way to attract attention.

The seventh inning stretch of the review has been reserved for the most important part of the car – its interior space. Don’t stretch too far though or you’ll likely strike a passenger. With 183.3 inches of length, the seven-seat Outlander is shorter than all other seven-seaters save the 2014 Nissan Rogue (182.3’’). For a point of comparison, the five-seat Chevy Equinox (187.8’’) is longer than either.

I had no issues with front seat space, though seat padding was thin and my back disagreed with the contours. I have a trim build and average height, so larger individuals might have more issues.

Tumbling the second row isn’t as smooth as some competitors, but it does slide fore and aft easily. That’s good, because you’ll need to slide those seats forward for even children to fit into the third row. A photo of me stuffed in the third row exists but did not come out well. Picture a grown man in a Cozy Coupe and you’ll get the idea.

Comparing manufacturer-calculated interior space is tricky business, but the 2014 Outlander loses space even compared to its predecessor.  Folding the second and third rows yield a flat floor with 63.3 cubes of space, but the 2013 featured 72.6. The ’14 can only hold 10.3 cubes with the seats up, so this isn’t likely to be the right car for livery duty in a large family.

For some buyers, all of these warts will be covered by the generous warranty – 10-years/100,000 miles on the powertrain. Will Mitsubishi will be here to replace recalcitrant CVTs over the coming decade? Maybe. Most companies would have already left the market rather than launching a new crossover and compact car. Perhaps the risk-averse should look elsewhere, but they likely already have.

If you want a cheap, safe crossover with a long warranty, the Outlander should be on your list. How much are you willing to overlook for as little as $23,820 though? Maybe the PHEV will quell the noise and improve interior finish, but current buyers have a lot of provisos to consider.

Mitsubishi is probably drowning in possibilities though, so what is my advice worth? In my debut article, several commenters advised to just let my wife pick whatever she wants. The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander isn’t that crossover.

When first published, this article incorrectly described the 4-cylinder engine as being a carryover from 2013. Commenter Mitsu_fan straightened me out. Displacement is unchanged, but the 2014 Outlander features a newer SOHC design relative to last year’s DOHC. My apologies for the mistake.


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Mitsubishi Publishing Real-World MPG Sign Of Openness With Customers Thu, 06 Mar 2014 14:30:36 +0000 outlander-phev-snow

In a sign of openness toward its customers, Mitsubishi will begin publishing real-world MPG figures for their entire lineup, beginning with the Outlander PHEV.

Auto Express reports Mitsubishi UK marketing director Lance Bradley stated the plug-in SUV was chosen because his customers, expecting the 148-mpg claimed in official tests, found the vehicle returned 90 mpg instead:

It’s crazy that people think that’s bad, but it’s all relative to the official figure. We’d like to do a graph, maybe just a figure, starting with the PHEV but then rolling it out to other cars. It would come from customer information.

The move comes as the automaker plans to have an PHEV variant for every one of their models within five years’ time. With more buyers reporting what their vehicle averages in fuel economy, future owners could compare the official test results with those found in real-world driving.

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Mitsubishi Mirage Sedan Displayed Proudly In Toronto Fri, 14 Feb 2014 18:20:14 +0000 Mirage (3)


Not content to let Nissan steal their A-segment thunder, Mitsubishi brought out their Mirage G4 sedan, which was locked and on a turntable, next to an Evo and a Mirage hatchback. In person, the G4 looks just as pinched and stretched as photos make it out to be.


Mirage (1) Mirage (2) Mirage (3) Mirage (4) Mirage (5) Mirage (6) Mirage (7) Mirage (8) Mirage (9) Mirage (10) ]]> 41
Junkyard Find: 1993 Eagle Summit Wagon Wed, 12 Feb 2014 14:00:56 +0000 10 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs with so many things surrounding the bewildering swirl of Renault/AMC- and Mitsubishi-derived products sold by Chrysler brands during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Eagle Summit wagon is something of a puzzler. The Eagle Summit car was a rebadged Mitsubishi Mirage, which itself was the same car as a Dodge/Plymouth Colt. But the Summit wagon was actually a Mitsubishi RVR, sold in the United States as the Mitsubishi Expo LRV and the Dodge/Plymouth Colt Wagon. In Europe, this thing was known as the Space Runner. Space Runner!

In fact, this is a good time to watch a European commercial for the Space Runner. And, just as I did with the ’12 Chevy Sonic rental-car review, I’m going to find some more not-very-relevant ads for the RVR.

A whole lot more than a four-door!

How about Bugs Bunny riding an RVR to the beach while getting red-eyed to Japanese reggae?

Apparently Bugs was the RVR spokesman.

You could get a Space Wagon in Brazil, too.
18 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Eagle brand lasted all the way until 1999, though (disappointingly) the AMC Eagle that donated the name was never sold by Chrysler as an Eagle Eagle.
07 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Mitsubishi Sirius 4G63 engine went into everything from the Mitsubishi Cordia to the second-gen Hyundai Elantra to the mighty Proton Perdana. You can always find plenty of 4G63s in American wrecking yards.
21 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe sliding side door was extremely useful, but image-conscious American car shoppers were beginning to hate minivan practicality by this time. Within a few years, just about every potential Eagle Summit buyer would be looking at SUVs.
04 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, just imagine the proud family that owned this Summit Wagon back in 1993, putting some of 1993′s greatest hits on the cassette deck for the family vacation to Action Park.

01 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]> 46
New Or Used? : Excuse Me While I Contradict Myself… Mon, 10 Feb 2014 16:06:17 +0000

A reader sent me these parameters for picking his next vehicle
I’m at a crossroads. I’m looking for a cheap – laughably cheap – like less-than-$3,000 cheap – car for my next daily driver. It’s got to be economical (near 30 mpg hwy) and fun to drive, with decent aftermarket support (so I can throw a couple mods at it – I’m a gearhead). Oh, and since I’m 6’1″ and have a 1-year old daughter, it needs a back seat.
We can skip the DSM/Mitsubishi reliability warning.
Much to the chagrin of most of TTAC’s Best and Brightest, I am a Mitsubishi enthusiast. Aside from a brief stint in an 89 Volvo 245 a couple years back, I’ve been driving Mitsubishi exclusively since 1996. Any mechanical problems I’ve had over the years were my own damn fault. Such is the price of learning-as-you-go.
I’ve got a giant “Wake up and drive” banner in my garage, and more left over DSM/GVR4/EVO bits than I really know what to do with. I am comfortable rebuilding pretty much anything from ECUs to engines to turbos to even replacing sections of the unitized chassis. I’m willing to negotiate on the character-vs-dependability piece, as I have two other vehicles to rely upon.
My first instinct – the obvious plan – is to pick up another DSM or GVR4; maybe an old Colt or Mirage. Any of the above could easily be a 200-300whp daily driver in short order, without much effort. But I’m looking to lock down my wheels for another 200,000 miles like I did with my bought-new-in-1996 Eagle Talon. I’m not looking to buy another daily driver for another decade after this, so I want it to be really good.
In the meantime, I’m daily driving what is basically a non-air conditioned riding lawn mower with a windshield 40 miles a day back and forth across Phoenix year ’round. I’m proud to be a charter member of the 100HP Club and I love my Rocinante, but I’m itching to get back into something as fun to drive quickly on tarmac as my Pajero is to drive on gravel.
Any ideas? :)
Steve Says:
Here are the two issues I see.
First, you say that you want to drive the vehicle for another 200,000 miles. Then, you say you aren’t willing to spend $3,000 on your next ride.
The avenues for achieving these seemingly disparate goals do exist. But to make it a success, you have to be willing to acknowledge a few things first.
The primary idea you have right now is that you simply don’t want to spend any long-term money in the pursuit of perpetual wheels. Believe it or not, you could do that since you also happen to be an expert in any area of the business where few others have experience or skills. Mitsubishi mechanics, old and new, are not exactly easy to find. I only know of one independent mechanic in over 15 years of this business.
So what I would do is this…
Get yourself a used car dealer’s license and start looking at buying wheels from the wholesale auctions. Start with one vehicle at a time.
Buy it. Fix it.  Advertise it. Sell it. Rinse and repeat.
I know that some folks try to take the tact of buying vehicles on Craigslist and working from there along with other online advertising site. The only problem with that is the time inefficiencies that come with dealing  an audience that is not exactly forthright in their disclosures. You could look at 12 vehicles at an auction over the course of an afternoon versus maybe two by traveling the Craigslist route.
If I were in your shoes, this is exactly what I would do. Take your skills and make them work for you so that you can make money in the long run. However, if time and monetary means make this a bit challenging, I’m sure the folks at TTAC could recommend plenty of DSM and orphaned models that will be worth your investment on a retail level.
Good luck!


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Announcing A (Proposed) New Grassroots Racing Series: Spec Mirage Sat, 08 Feb 2014 20:07:01 +0000 Mitsubishi Mirage Hatchback (1992-1994)

Stumbling upon old family photographs is a funny thing. Sometimes, you find out that your parents were actually pretty cool in their day, devoid of middle-aged paunches or wrinkles, and decked out in stylish clothes, with good-looking but rarely mentioned companions on their arm that elicit scowls and glares when you innocently inquire about their identity. Looking at old photos of the Mitsubishi Mirage is a little like that.

While our North American Mirage was a dowdy also-ran B-segment car for credit criminals and second-tier rental car agencies, the Japanese market Mirage fell victim to the irrational exuberance that plagued the Japanese economy, and paradoxically gave us the greatest generation of Japanese cars to ever exist.

No matter that the Lancer Evolution, Galant VR-4 and Legnum VR-4 (that’s a Galant VR-4 wagon) already existed. American sales and marketing execs were content with just the Eclipse, and aside from the cost of homologation any other nameplate, they likely would have nixed another sporty model, for fear of cannibalizing sales of the Eclipse GS-T and GSX.

But Japan is different. Having overlapping, redundant models sold under the same brand (but different sales channels) was a requirement in the Bubble Era. And so, the Lancer Evolution was joined by the Mirage Cyborg family, which was a three-door hatchback with a naturally-aspirated MIVEC 1.6L 4-cylinder engine making 172 horsepower and a VTEC-esque 124 lb-ft of torque. It wasn’t enough that Mitsubishi had conquered the four-door rally special niche. They needed a competitor to other now-forgotten bubble-era specials like the Toyota Levin BZ-R, the Nissan Pulsar VZ-R and the Honda Civic SiR (are you sensing a trend here?).

While the Levin was primarily known for its innovative 20 valve, individual throttle body engine, and the Civic became famous for arriving in America in the form of an engine with the wiring harness hacked in half, the Cyborg R never achieved much beyond appearing in Gran Turismo. But at least it was cool. Not like the one that’s for sale right now.

Today’s Mirage is either a pur sang back-to-basics subcompact or the world car on sale today, depending on the biases of the journalist reviewing it. I think it would be a great basis for a grassroots Spec Racing series that would cost very little and provide, at the very least, marginal thrills. The production spec Mirage weighs 1,973 lbs in base trim with a manual transmission, or the same as a Lotus Elise, but it puts out just 74 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque from its 1.2L three-cylinder engine.

A freer flowing intake and exhaust system might bump up output by another 10 horsepower and 10 lb-ft, while stripping the car out for race duty should shave another 150 lbs or so out of the car. There is no real way to make these things fast while keeping costs down. Off the shelf suspension components and better brake pads might turn the car from a “jellyfish” (as one British magazine described the handling) into something tolerable. With any luck, the cars will lap as fast as an NB Miata, the ubiquitous, but slow entry-level track machine that everyone so politely describes as a “momentum car”. Think of it as a stepping stone to tin-top racing, one rung below B-Spec.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Fri, 07 Feb 2014 14:00:11 +0000 22 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Chrysler K platform spun off many K-based descendents, but genuine, pure Ks have been fairly rare in this series. We’ve seen this ’83 Dodge Aries sedan, this ’85 Dodge 600 Turbo, and this ’88 Dodge Aries wagon so far, though I’ve passed over many dozens more. Still, when I see a first-year Aries wagon in this weird chalky gray-green color and it has a “Hemi 2.6″ engine, I break out the camera!
13 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars depreciated just as fast as all the other Detroit front-drivers of the 1980s, which means that only relatively trouble-free ones managed to survive 33 years on the street. One expensive problem after about 1989, good-bye!
12 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Hemi 2.6 was really the good old Mitsubishi Astron 4G54 engine, which made 114 not-so-bad-for-1981 horses. Sadly, Chrysler never used any Simca-derived engines in the K family.
07 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis wagon has plenty of options, including air conditioning and futuristic digital chronometer.
05 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs the street price of a battered Aries-K approached scrap-value levels, the socioeconomic status of the average K-car owner also dropped.
03 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, you can see hints of former luxury in the much-used faded-mint-green vinyl interior.

As you can see here, the ’81 K-cars were sold on price, period.

02 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]> 137