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2017 Mitsubishi Mirage GT vs. Toyota’s Scion iA – Which $17K Tiny City Car is For You?

We compare two of the least expensive, and smallest new cars for sale In America. Which one would you choose and why?

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For those who may not have seen the news, Scion is gone. The brand will be folded and rolled up into Toyota, which was always the brand anyway. The cars that were already sold in Toyota dealerships will keep being sold, for the most part, the only thing that will be gone is the Scion name.

Just before its long-overdue demise, Scion came out with some new products that slot in underneath the Corolla. The Corolla is a tremendous value and one of the top-selling cars in America. The iA is the car that Toyota will now sell for those who want a small car, but are not ready to ante up Corolla money. Reviewers praised the new iA when it was released last year.

The Mitsubishi Mirage GT is all-new for 2017, and you have not seen this car before. It is a subcompact, almost micro car. At just 149 inches long it is one of the smallest cars in America. The iA is almost big by comparison at 172 inches long. Both are about 67 inches wide and 59 inches high. Both are also sold in the $17K range. Let’s compare and contrast these two entry level cars.

Price and Layout – 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage GT vs. Scion iA
The Mitsubishi Mirage GT has an MSRP including delivery of $17,330. A five-door hatchback was out comparison model. In person, this car is shockingly small, but those who shop it against a Smart car, or subcompact EV will be comfortable with its size.

The 2016 Scion iA with its optional automatic, six-speed transmission has an MSRP including destination charges of $17,595 (2017 prices have not yet been released). In person, the Scion iA looks small, but the look is not as dramatic as the Mirage GT due to the Scion’s extra length. The iA is a five-passenger, four-door sedan.

Safety – Mitsubishi Mirage GT vs. Scion iA
The Scion iA has a standard low-speed forward collision prevention system. That makes it almost unique in the U.S. marketplace. Tested by IIHS, the iA earned the highest possible safety rating, the Top Safety Pick Plus.

The Mitsubishi Mirage GT scored Marginal on the IIHS small frontal overlap test and has no available forward collision prevention. Coupled with it much shorter length, we can’t but call the iA the safety winner by a country mile. On the other hand, if you are a safety shopper and have arrived at a choice between these two cars, you're barking up the wrong tree. (More on Page 2)

Drivetrain & Fuel Economy – Scion iA vs. Mirage GT
The Mitsubishi Mirage GT uses a three-cylinder engine (no turbo) with 78 horsepower. It is coupled to a constantly automatic variable transmission (which we drove) or a five-speed manual. With just 78 horsepower one would expect it to have tremendous fuel economy, but that is relative. At 39 MPG combined it is great unless compared to a Prius C.

The Scion iA has a four-cylinder engine with 106 hp. As we mentioned above, it is available with a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed auto (which is how we priced it up). With a 37 MPG combined rating, it comes within $50 of the annual fuel costs of the Mitsubishi.

Content and Features - Mitsubishi Mirage GT vs. Scion iA
Our Mitsubishi GT test vehicle had impressive content. Backup camera, Bluetooth audio, Android Auto and Apple Carplay, and push button start were just some of the noteworthy options. As far as we can remember, it was the only test vehicle in the past three years we have tested without satellite radio (no receiver). Will you really miss it with the smartphone integration? At $17K we were happily surprised to find a leather-wrapped steering wheel, alloy wheels, and bi-xenon headlights. Although it is nice to see that content, is that the best use of money in this car?

The Scion iA’s content includes the forward collision prevention system, push button start, backup camera, BlueTooth and two years of included maintenance (which we value at about $300).

These two $17K cars are surprisingly well equipped and offer a buyer a very low cost of ownership. With the added value of the Scion's included maintenance, we find them to have almost identical costs. Your taste may dictate which you prefer, but the Scion has the edge in safety, which in cars this small may be a deciding factor for some. Don't count out the charm of the Mirage. If you want a small car for zipping around the city, it may be just the ticket.

Related Story: Which to Buy: Scion iA or Scion iM

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