Starting at $13,995, the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 is one of the least expensive sedans you can buy in North America save only for the Ford Fiesta sedan at $13,660 and Nissan Versa sedan that starts at $11,990.

Right up front, comparisons on larger more expensive cars can be less about dollars and cents than things like features, design and preferences. When you are looking at the least expensive of new cars what you get for the money matters more than ever.

That fact was front and center during our week with the Mirage G4 SE we tested which banked out at $17,860 in total. How it compares to its nearest peers could not be ignored in every facet of how we looked at this car.

As tested, the Mirage G4 SE came with dressy black chrome trims, body colored mirrors and bumpers all of which are standard even on the base ES model. Upgrades outside were the dark satin 15-inch alloy wheels and fog lights.

The interior was put together with material quality of a reasonably good level with fit and finish also good for the price. The cloth seats were comfortable enough and space was plentiful both front and rear.

Living with the G4 in our Arizona heat however did show the AC to be somewhat weak, especially driving aggressively in traffic where it’s cycled off to save fuel. Compared to the Ford Fiesta and Nissan Versa we’ve tested before it’s definitely back of class in this area.

We were surprised there was no center armrest or console storage, leaving few places for your things. Additionally, the audio system which while relatively attractive looking with its large touch screen offers few features.

It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth connectivity which was above class and the audio quality also good. But the USB port? It was a dongle pigtail cord that you had to slam in the glove box door to use. Not in the current element compared to peers.

When it comes to driving and living with it, how the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 compares to peers is likely the most important measure. Starting with motivation, it comes with a 78 horsepower 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine and and here in the SE a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Right at the outset that puts the Mirage G4 at a disadvantage given all of its competitors come with larger and more powerful four-cylinder engines good for 100 horsepower or better. One might think that this pays dividends in efficiency but it doesn’t.

MPG ratings of 35 mpg city, 42 mpg highway and 37 mpg combined are middle of class and our actual observed mpg was a dismal 29 mpg. The fact is, it’s a much smaller engine that has to work harder to move the 3100 pound car than a larger engine.

In practice, the three-cylinder mill is also quite rough and noisy as it churns along like a blender in traffic through a CVT that is as rough and unrefined as they come. By comparison, the four-cylinder and CVT in the Nissan Versa sedan is a huge improvement, the engine in the Ford Fiesta a joy.

Driving and handling around town was another area where we scratched our heads. The ride itself is quiet for the class and comfortable, the chassis relatively soft in its tune. It’s when the road gets choppy that bumps crash easily through to your seat with smashing jarring noise from a suspension that has little travel and damping ability. Again, one has to compare to peers Versa and Fiesta which offer an entirely different experience.

In the end, it may seem unfair to pit the Mirage G4 against the shadows of its competitors in our test drive review but we didn’t want to be critical without some depth of reason. It’s not because it’s an entry level car it comes up short, it’s because its competition is very good.