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Starting price: $13,790
“Penny pinchers” is not the demographic a carmaker typically targets. But when you’ve got a featherweight hatchback whose chief attributes are low price and high fuel economy, hey, you embrace any potential audience.
Indeed, this Japanese automaker is quite proud that its bare-bones four-door was named the No. 1 New Car for Penny Pinchers by a prominent automotive website. With just 74 horsepower, homely styling, and no real luxuries, the slow, noisy Mirage certainly doesn’t appeal to driving enthusiasts or upscale shoppers. It could, however, look pretty good to parking-starved city dwellers, short-trip retirees, and brief-commute suburbanites.
The tiny 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine links to a five-speed manual transmission or for an extra $1,100 a continuously variable automatic transmission. It rates 37/44/40 mpg city/highway/combined with either. This is basic transportation, sure, but basic these days doesn’t necessarily mean bare-bones. The entry DS model comes with power windows and mirrors, USB input, automatic climate control with rear-seat heater ducts, keyless entry, and variable intermittent windshield wipers.
Starting at $15,090, the ES version adds Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, mirrors with turn indicators, alloy wheels, fog lights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. Release your pinch on another $900 and the ES can be equipped with a simple navigation system that includes a rearview camera.