In our last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we considered the Mazda Protegé, Mitsubishi Mirage, and Subaru Impreza sedans from 1998. Most of you preferred the Protegé as your Buy of the three. Today we fast forward to the same offerings in 2008, and see if things shake out differently.
Car buyers and market observers are used to seeing large dealership markups on models that are tough to get — first editions of popular cars, usually, or models that are produced in small numbers, or both.
It’s no shock to see the Ford Bronco or Chevrolet Corvette marked up by thousands of dollars. Motor Trend reported markups of $30K on Broncos, for example. C8 Corvettes are also being marked up like crazy.
While annoying, it’s somewhat understandable, given how the franchise-dealer system works, as well as how basic capitalism and supply and demand work. You don’t have to like the phenomenon, but the logic behind its existence is sound.
Still, we draw the line at an almost $6K markup of a Mitsubishi Mirage.
Chrysler’s run of selling rebadged Mitsubishis began way back in 1970, when the rear-wheel-drive Colt Galant arrived here for the 1971 model year. Those cars sold very well in North America, with sales continuing through 1978. After that, Colt badges went onto the front-wheel-drive Lancer Fiore (later sold here as the Mirage). Here’s one of those first-year FWD Colts, found in a Denver-area yard in nice condition and equipped with the extremely cool Twin-Stick dual-range transmission.
No, there’s no new Mitsubishi model on the way — just “richer” versions of what we already have. That’s a term the automaker applied to the refreshed 2021 Mirage, by the way.
In announcing across-the-board changes to its North American lineup Wednesday, Mitsubishi seemed to suggest that a brand pull-out in this region won’t occur overnight, if ever. Or maybe this is just the brand’s last consumer salvo.
After better than 1,800 Junkyard Finds, Junkyard Treasures, and Junkyard Gems since I started doing this stuff in 2007, the oldest discarded vehicle I’ve shot is a 1941 Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan in Denver (that’s not counting a lot of older junked cars I’ve shot with ancient film cameras, of course).
Before today, the newest junkyard car I’ve documented was this 2012 Fiat 500, but now I’ve got a car that might still have had That New Car Smell if it hadn’t been cruelly abused every day of its short life.
This should help sweep every last thought of the Ford Mustang and its hip new sibling out of your mind.
Teased not long ago by an excited Mitsubishi, the newest Mirage is now ready for a round of eye feasting. Get your fill. And, while the subcompact model hasn’t adopted a new platform or anything like that, it has donned its largest grille to date, plus some additional finery to drive cost-conscious boys and girls wild.
Christmas just came early for many of you. The Mitsubishi Mirage, a truly inexpensive vehicle sometimes seen wearing a worrisome shade of magenta, will soon be even better than before.
That’s because the subcompact hatch and sedan is about gain an even more dynamic and expressive exterior. Brace yourselves.
It has come to our attention that there has been a dearth of Mitsubishi products in this Ace of Base series. Seeing what’s on offer at the instant noodle end of a particular price spectrum can be entertaining, so there’s little reason for us to have ignored one of the least-expensive new cars on sale in America today.
Poking fun at an entry-level car is low hanging fruit, one that’s been picked clean by many corners of the internet. Ignoring that dross, what exactly does Mitsubishi offer in an entry-level Mirage? The answer: more than I expected.
The first quarter of 2019 reflected a long-predicted cooling off of U.S. auto sales, with volume falling 2 percent. A few automakers bucked the trend, but the news was generally unpleasant. Of course, rising average transaction prices and a bevy of high-margin trucks, SUVs, and crossovers softened the blow for those who got their lineups in order ahead of time.
One segment that gets very little attention — for many reasons — is the lowest rung of all: subcompact cars, which traditionally provide a stepping stone for buyers just entering the market. Many journos bemoan the loss of low-priced cars, claiming relatively cash-strapped Millennials stand to be priced out of the new vehicle market by rising MSRPs and interest rates. It’s true — the herd is thinning, with the last quarter bringing about the death of the Chevrolet Cruze. (This writer actually bought one; the jury’s out if anyone else out there did.)
Still, despite the industry flux, some nameplates continue to earn the love of buyers who choose to spend as little as possible on a new car.
Having already bastardized the Eclipse name by affixing it to a new crossover vehicle, there’s palpable fear within the automotive media that Mitsubishi might try the same with another iconic property. While FTO and 3000GT don’t have the right ring to them, we can imagine trendy performance SUV wearing an Evolution badge — to our chagrin.
In our fantasies, we imagine Mitsubishi bringing back a new, harder-hitting Lancer compact and a menacing mid-sized Galant. Maybe the Starion could even make an appearance. However, those models probably wouldn’t sell outside the Land of Make Believe even if they were stellar models. Sport utility vehicles and crossovers are where the money’s at right now, and cash is exactly what Mitsubishi is after.
Keeping that in mind, a new rumor claims the brand is working with Nissan to get its Alliance partner’s modular platform inside the Mirage, or whatever replaces it. The end result will be a small crossover with sporting pretensions, which doesn’t sound bad in the least.
The sub-subcompact “city car” segment is one of those rare occurrences where Canadians have it better than Americans in terms of choice and price. While the U.S. fields just two of these tiny runabouts (the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive does not count, and we’re not counting the Fiat 500, either), Canucks can warm their frozen cockles knowing there’s three four-door, ultra-cheap models waiting for them at local dealers.
Not only that, but all three models carry an MSRP in the four-figure range. Just barely, but in a country where an A&W Uncle Burger cost your author $9.03 last week ($9.03! No combo, either), this is tantamount to bank robbery.
So, as we take a look at the changes Chevrolet has in store for its 2019 Spark, let’s gauge the overall health of this tiny segment — north and south of the border.
I often joke that not only are we all destined to buy a crossover in the near future, we’ll one day become crossovers. Oh, how the TTAC guys laugh…
Still, it’s hard to avoid the crossovers-are-replacing-cars narrative, as it isn’t some far-out theory — it’s a cold, hard reality. Crossover and SUV market share grows each year as buyers abandon traditional passenger cars in favor of a vehicle that does everything at least marginally.
That said, not every model faces the same rate of abandonment. Certain cars — through a hazy combination of performance, value, nameplate recognition, and other, more nebulous factors — haven’t yet been dropped off on the front steps of the orphanage by their once-loving guardians.
Let’s take a look at some surprisingly healthy performers in the non-premium, non-sports car class. Cars that aren’t declining in popularity, as this analysis isn’t about overall volume. Guess what? None of these vehicles are the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, two models currently locked in a battle for midsize sedan supremacy (and worthy of their own singular coverage).
Hard to believe, we know, but there’s loyalty and desire to be found elsewhere.
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