The 'Best All-Around Performance' Car Available is the Mitsubishi Mirage, Apparently
If you’ve ever been inside a Mitsubishi Mirage, you know its only slightly preferable to being hogtied and drug behind a much nicer car. Its engine is beyond anemic at highway speeds, there is an uncomfortable level of road noise, and it’s about as luxurious as a shoebox. The Mirage is the rental you receive when the “special value” option seems too good to be true — because it is.
Prepare yourself for a brain aneurysm as you read the following sentence: The Mitsubishi Mirage is, according to the Automotive Science Group, the best performance vehicle money can buy. That, and Mitsubishi is honored as the “Best All-Around Performance Brand.”
How could this possibly happen?
Now might be a good opportunity to remind everyone how important it is to understand the methodologies behind these studies and awards.
In the case of the Automotive Science Group, top awards are divided into subcategories that measure environmental, economic, and social “performance.” While economic performance translates directly to the purchasing price of the vehicle, the other two are atypical ways to qualitatively assess a car and beg for more explanation.
Environmental performance measures the overall planetary impact. That includes everything from how much fuel a given vehicle burns to the raw materials and energy required in its production. There are even metrics to measure the amount of effort, energy, and materials needed to properly dismantle and dispose of the vehicle at the end of its life.
The social methodology is even more extensive. Automotive Science Group’s social performance is measured by assessing the corporate and governmental commitment to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the United Nations Global Compact. Essentially, it seeks to ensure the car was not produced anywhere human rights are an issue — but goes so far as to make sure vehicle sales won’t somehow contribute toward terrorism, organized crime, slavery, or child labor.
That’s incredibly specific for a car and company that are being dubbed “best all-around.” And, as much as Mitsubishi should be getting kudos for accidentally producing the most morally righteous and socially responsible vehicles on the market, simply announcing they’ve won an award for “performance” is more than a little misleading. Of course, an advertisement that reads your company hurt the least amount of people and ruins the environment less does lack the broad appeal of a “BEST PERFORMANCE” banner hoisted above your product.
It’s difficult to fault Mitsubishi here, though. While it would’ve been nice if it had presented the award with more clarity and marketed themselves appropriately, they just want the positive publicity. It’s our job to ensure the onslaught of awards are vetted and the methodologies behind them are given clarity, because nobody else is going to bother. We need to take the time to remind ourselves that J.D. Power’ s “Best in Initial Quality” only covers the first 90 days of ownership and Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year” is based on little more than a gut feeling. (They picked the Chevy Malibu in 1997 for Christ’s sake.)
So, if you want to save a yourself bundle of cash, be good to the environment, and enjoy the most guilt-free driving experience of your entire life, then the Mitsubishi Mirage is definitely the vehicle for you. However, I urge you to look elsewhere if you truly want a car with the “Best All-Around Performance.”
[Image: Mitsubishi Motors]
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Reviewers love to hate the Mirage. People renting the Mirage hate it. But owners love the Mirage. Could it be there's a certain segment of the market that just wants the cheapest car they can buy that reliably gets them from a to b, and uses the least gas possible? Nahhhh. EVERYONE buys a car based on styling, features, comfort and handling! Everyone! Nobody buys based on reliability, price and mpg! All the reviewers everywhere told me so!
I know of one owner who's owned a Mirage for 30,000 trouble free miles so far. Gotta love that honest little stripper.