Commentary: A Purple Statement On Durability

Remember when John Pearley Huffman wrote a not-so-flattering review of the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage for the New York Times?

Sometime afterward, I reviewed it on here, as well.

Let’s just say we definitely disagreed with our conclusions. 

Somewhere in-between these divergent opinions have been a chorus of journalists trying to find some justification for Mitsubishi to sell their subcompact hatchback – and their subsequent G4 four-door sedan – in the USA market. Pricing was affordable, the fuel economy was more than reasonable, and it actually drives quite well. This is really a great entry-level vehicle that has seen more than a few noses raised above its cute four-door hatchback body. 

The one factor that neither of us in the automotive media corps did not factor in was whether the Thai-assembled Mirage would hold up for more than 100,000 miles or not. 

Let me introduce to you to Jerry and Janice Huot. They are a couple in Minnesota who bought a then-new 2014 Mirage from my friend Richard Herod III’s White Bear Mitsubishi in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Through six winters of ownership, the Huots racked up 414,520 miles on their Plasma Purple Mirage hatch before Herod facilitated a trade for a 2020 Mirage for the mileage-breaking hatch. 

The Huots took to their "Purple Won" 2014 Mirage by putting it through its paces. They used their vehicle as a delivery vehicle. They tested the vehicle’s strength by loading it with it all the materials they needed for a landscaping project. 

Needless to say, the Huots proved the 2014 Mirage’s worth by simply doing all of the regular maintenance required by Mitsubishi. According to Jerry Huot via Mitsubishi’s media website, they replaced the wheel bearings at 150,000 and the starter motor somewhere in the 200,000-300,000 mile range. Luckily, these components were covered under a warranty provided by the dealership. 

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors North America via White Bear Mitsubishi

Now, this particular Mirage is getting a lot of social media attention. A few of my fellow journalists have already jumped on the story. The car is on display at White Bear Mitsubishi at this time.

Let’s take this all in for a moment. Here is a vehicle that was given mixed reviews by the automotive press in the USA. This vehicle was not given a fair shake by the motoring public for various reasons. And, yet, this one example – perhaps one of the first Mirages sold in the USA – may have proven all of us wrong. 

Durability is an outcome that tells the story of an automobile. There had been million-mile vehicles out there, including a Toyota Tundra in Louisiana. Some of these ultra-long mileage vehicles happen to be ones where my colleagues and I thought they would never make it past 150,000-200,000 on the clock. We thought some vehicles would be easily disposable because of their price, assembly, materials, and country of origin. 

Yet, this particular Mitsubishi Mirage may have outlasted a lot of vehicles with up to half of the miles shown on their odometers. Therefore, it has met – even exceeded – their perceived lifespan in terms of miles and proved the vehicle’s durability.

When you have proof that certain vehicles can last beyond a certain perceived mileage limit, will that help you make that purchase? One would hope the answer is “yes.” There will still be some doubters. How do you win over these doubters? Simply show them the two million-mile Toyota Tundras and this 414,000-mile Mitsubishi Mirage. 

And, yes, the ownership experience is certainly a factor. You can own a vehicle while running up the miles. However, it is your responsibility as a steward to your vehicle by following the maintenance schedule and working with your dealership or garage towards keeping it running for the long haul. You might even reach 400,000-plus miles in your prized vehicle.

The old adage remains true: “Never judge a book by its cover.” Perhaps those of us who had thrown aside this current generation of the Mitsubishi Mirage may want to reconsider what they have written about it now. 

While you’re at it, thank the Huots for proving us wrong. 

Cover photo by Randy Stern

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