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Last Sub-$20K Vehicle Reportedly Dead

Say goodbye to cheap cars.

The automotive industry is in flux, that’s clear – and as electrics make their way into the mix, more change is on the horizon. But for observers of legacy carmakers, change is perhaps the only thing that stays the same. Companies both domestic and global have been making dramatic adjustments to their portfolios as American buyers become increasingly fond of bigger, roomier vehicles.

And when it comes to the availability of brand new sedans and coupes, it’s been death by a thousand cuts. We’ve seen the slow trickle as automakers unloaded smaller models over the years, with everything from the Chrysler 300 and Volkswagen Passat to the Toyota Avalon and the Ford Fusion meeting their demise – among many others.

But there is one particular type of small car that’s discontinuation seems to hurt the most – the entry level. And if a recent report by Automotive News is to be believed, then cheap cars are going to get even harder to find.

That’s because Auto News is reporting that Mitsubishi is looking to eliminate the Mirage from its lineup – most notable for being the only vehicle Cox Automotive says transacted for under $20,000 new last month.

With a starting price of just $17,340 – including shipping – the Mirage has offered entry to the new car market during a time period where the average new vehicle sells for a stunning $48,000.

But this option, unfortunately, looks to be on its way out. Auto News says Mitsubishi has plans to exit the sedan market altogether in the U.S., a simple feat when you consider the automaker sells only a handful of models here and, besides the Mirage, they are all crossovers.

The plan would be to phase out the Mirage over the next few years but analysts believe there could be a trick up Mitsubishi’s sleeve: the report highlights other auto companies – specifically Hyundai – who found a way to sell a cheap vehicle by repackaging it as a crossover. Mitsubishi has one of those now – the XForce – currently described as a sub-compact crossover SUV, which it plans, at least for now, to sell in other global markets.

One big difference, though – the price. In the markets where it’s available, it starts north of $25K – a full eight grand higher than the Mirage.

Mitsubishi has so far declined to comment on these reports.

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