Skip to main content

Used Cars Buying used: Looking for an economical commuter car for around $10,000

I commute about 100 km, round trip, every day and gas is killing me. I want a newer, small reliable car with good fuel economy for around $10,000. Everybody tells me to get an electric but I can’t afford one (or a hybrid). Everybody also tells me to move closer to work and I can’t afford that either. I’m considering a 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage. – Ahmad

Long before EVs and hybrids, folks looking for fuel sippers turned to tiny subcompacts. Now, they’re still some of the least thirsty cars you can get.

If you look at 2015 or earlier, there are plenty of decent, fuel-efficient choices starting at about $10,000 – including the Chevrolet Spark, Honda Fit, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Micra and Toyota Yaris

Story continues below advertisement

Here we’ll pit the Mirage against the Fit. The Mirage gets better gas mileage, but the Fit beats it for handling, power, comfort and space.

2015 Honda Fit

The 2015 Honda Fit got smaller on the outside yet roomier on the inside.

Honda

  • Third generation: 2015-present (facelift for 2018)
  • Average asking price for base: $9,466 (Canadian Black Book)
  • Original MSRP, before freight: $14,495
  • Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder (130 hp)
  • Transmission/Drive: Six-speed manual, CVT/Front-wheel
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.1 city, 6.4 highway (manual); 7.0 city, 5.7 highway (CVT)

You’re not likely to have a fit at the gas station with Honda’s roomy entry-level hatch.

“The fuel economy is the first-best thing about the 2015 Fit, without question.” Globe Drive said. “Over three hours of driving, some in clogged Toronto city traffic, the needle barely moved.”

Redesigned for 2015 with shorter overall length but a longer wheelbase, the Fit got smaller on the outside yet roomier on the inside.

For 2015, there were four trims: DX, LX, EX, and EX-L Nav.

Skip the base DX if you want AC or the CVT – it didn’t offer them, although it did come with Bluetooth and a reverse camera. The LX – which came with AC, heated seats, cruise control and an optional CVT – is a better bet.

Consumer Reports liked that the Fit had “lots of space in a small footprint,” a versatile interior, good handling and plenty of standard equipment. But, it griped that the Fit was slow, noisy and hard riding.

Story continues below advertisement

It gave the 2015 Fit three out of five for reliability.

There were three recalls, including a fix to a drive pulley shaft that could potentially break while driving and cause the wheels to lock up.

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage

The 2015 Mirage.

Mitsubishi

  • Sixth generation: 2014-present (facelift for 2017)
  • Average asking price for base: $9,998 (Canadian Black Book)
  • Original MSRP, before freight: $12,498
  • Engine: 1.4-litre three-cylinder (74 hp)
  • Transmission/Drive: Five-speed manual, CVT /Front-wheel
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 7.0 city, 5.5 highway (manual); 6.4 city, 5.3 highway (CVT)

For Mitsubishi’s cheapest car, the fuel economy was no Mirage.

“The Mirage didn’t beat its official fuel-consumption numbers, but its measured real-world 5.7 litres/100 km [combined] was still outstanding,” Globe Drive said. “That’s hybrid-like fuel economy for less than half the price of a Toyota Prius c…. And while driving it, you can’t see what it looks like.”

Built in Thailand, the 2015 Mirage came in four trims: ES, ES Plus and SE. ES Plus added extras including air conditioning, Bluetooth, keyless entry and power rear windows.

Consumer Reports liked the fuel economy – and that’s about it. It said the Mirage was “perhaps the worst-handling new car on sale,” very loud inside, underpowered, and uncomfortable for the driver.

Story continues below advertisement

“While subcompacts are usually nimble, the Mirage's handling is so clumsy several testers found it disconcerting,” it said. “On top of that, the interior feels drab, cheap, and insubstantial.”

Consumer Reports has no reliability ratings for the Mirage.

There were three recalls, including a fix to a software glitch that could potentially deactivate the airbags.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up for the weekly Drive newsletter, delivered to your inbox for free. Follow us on Instagram, @globedrive.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter