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Published on November 19th, 2013 | by Jo Borrás


Driven: Mitsubishi Mirage CVT, The Highest MPG Car That’s Not A Hybrid

November 19th, 2013 by  

Last week, I got to drive one of Mitsubishi’s new 2014 Mirage CVTs all around Chicago. It was a weird week, with the first snow of the year, heavy wind and rain, and nutty traffic to contend with — but the little Mitsubishi Mirage CVT handled it all pretty well. Maybe better than you’d expect, even. Here’s the full rundown, originally posted on Gas 2. Enjoy!

Driving the Highest MPG Car in America (That’s Not a Hybrid) (via Gas 2.0)

A few weeks ago, Ford announced that its new 2014 Ford Fiesta with a 1.0 liter Ecoboost 3 cylinder engine was the highest MPG car you could buy that wasn’t a hybrid with its 32/45 (37 combined) mpg rating. Almost immediately, the Mitsubishi fan base…

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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

  • Indy to chi-town

    I actually bought one of the DE version in sapphire blue. I agree about the CVT’s up-shifting too quickly. I had the opportunity to drive from Indianapolis to Chicago. Smooth sailing all the while (80 mph feels like 60ish). Although strong winds do shake the small-wheeled Mirage. Put 500 miles on it in a weekend on a tank and a half of gas (380 approximate highway miles). For stock speakers, they’re not half bad either.

  • Lynne Whelden

    …not to mention the pollution control devices.

  • Lynne Whelden

    People forget that cars from the early 20th century got in the 20-30 mpg range. Shows you how stuck in the mud we’ve been for the last 100 years!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Check the curb weight of those cars and you’ll be on track to figure out how.

      Gas has been cheap and we weren’t very aware of the climate problems we were causing. There hasn’t been a lot of emphasis on fuel efficiency. (A bit following the OPEC embargo, but that faded away.)

    • James Van Damme

      Then there’s the air bags, crush zones, A/C, cupholders, and automatic transmissions that Americans have to buy.

  • Kiwiiano

    The disquieting thought is that if we are to meet the 10% target* climate scientists reckon we need to avoid calamity, we should be looking for 500mpg or thereabouts. Or severely reduce our journey frequencies or distances. It could be done, but won’t be safe until all the Detroit Dinosaurs are off the roads and most folk have a BIG mind reset on their expectations of life.
    (* that’s TO 10% emissions not BY…..)

    • A Real Libertarian

      Or you know, Electric?

  • Lynne Whelden

    This is why I’m holding onto my 2003 Toyota Echo as long as I can. Bought it new and it’s now got 234,000 miles. I still get 50 mpg on the highway and 45 around town. Sad thing is, Toyota discontinued them because they were making the early model Prius look bad (when it was getting in the low 40s).
    So old technology is already out there to get better mileage for a non-hybrid car. They just don’t want to utilize it anymore.

    • Wayne Williamson

      That’s what I wonder too…I think the Honda Civic from almost 20 years ago got 40 mpg….

      • Bob_Wallace

        I’d take a close look at safety features and power.

        Later model cars often have better crash protection which makes them heavier.

        At times high mileage cars have been marketed but they were so sluggish that they didn’t sell well.

        No data on my part, just a couple of things to check….

        • OldIsNewAgain

          1991 Honda Civic 5 spd LX had airbags and ABS if I remember correctly, well over 100 K, and I was able to get 45 MPG hwy if I kept it under 65 MPH. Around town driving yielded mid 30’s.

          Materials science and lightweight safety features have come a long way since then…this just seems like a polished turd, albeit a shiny one.

        • jonesey

          My 2005 VW TDI gets 50+ on the highway and 40+ overall (and I do have the data to prove it), and it has crash protection, side airbags, traction control, etc. etc.

          AND it has serious torque. It can zoom, at any speed. It’s the opposite of sluggish.

          AND AND AND it has mirrors on both flip-down visors.

          And it runs on 100% biodiesel, of course, with no engine modifications necessary.

          And it has a range of over 600 miles on a single tank.

          I do want a 150-mile-range EV, though. I’m tired of spewing exhaust into my local environment.

  • Dave2020

    Another 3-cylinder engine, Audi’s 1.4TDI, which was coupled with a standard 5-speed manual box, was designed in 1995. Call this progress?

    It is typical of the car industry’s lazy, snail-like development of fuel efficiency. Of course, the brainless customer is to blame – gimme more power!!

    My 13 year-old A2 has clocked 90,000 miles, still does 60mpg and can do a ton, if it were allowed to. The (heavy!) rear seats are easily removed – very practical for trips to the DIY store. The electric version housed all the batteries under the floor, so the full carrying capacity remained the same.

  • M. Cameron O’Dell

    highest MPG car you can buy that’s not a hybrid…VW TDI!

  • And they will probably have the first plug-in hybrid SUV sold in the states as well….

  • Others

    Another car with 3 cylinder engine. The other 2 are Fiesta and Mini.
    So 3 cylinders are competing with 4 cylinders.

    Engine downsizing is on without losing power, but the mileage is up.

    I hope they bring their mini cars with 3 cylinder 660 cc engine. Those cars have better mileage than Hybrids.

  • Michael Berndtson

    Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Oak Park, IL make a nice backdrop for a car photoshoot.

  • Omega Centauri

    So what happens to the mileage in B mode? I bet it goes down a lot.

    • Not really- the car runs at it’s peak TQ, which is the most efficient part of the rpm range. If you drive like a jerk (guilty!) it drops to about 28. The hot set up is B mode in town, D mode on the highway.

      • Omega Centauri

        Peak torque is not the same as peak efficiency. In addition to the efficiency of converting fuel into torque, we also have frictional loses in the engine -even if no torque is demanded. I would guess this frictional internal loss would be proportional to engine RPM -so if “gearing” is selected to keep high RPM, internal losses will be high. A hybrid gains a lot of efficiency by turning the engine off (using electric) power, when power demand is low. So B mode probably means there is no way to get good mielage.

        You can demonstrate this effect, by using a lower gear going downhill, utilizing “engine braking” to save on braking. But engine braking is simply using the engine to dissipate energy.

  • wattleberry

    That’s the most electric-looking car [that isn’t electric].

  • anderlan

    Starter buttons have grown on me (in my imagination). I look forward to my next car having one.

    Surprising cars WITHOUT starter buttons:
    Toyota Prius c HYBRID
    Smart fortwo ELECTRIC Drive

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