There's so much hype over the newest small car on the market, the Ford Focus, that it would be easy to overlook one of the better economy cars, the Mitsubishi Mirage.

Excellent room, above-average power, most pleasant point-A-to-point-B mileage and all of it wrapped in an attractive, though not overly stylish, package.

We tested the 2000 Mirage DE sedan. Two sets of numbers tell the story about Mirage--$13,987 base price and 28 m.p.g. city/36 m.p.g. highway.

For $13,987 the list of standard equipment is impressive, including air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD player, power windows and locks, digital quartz clock, height-adjustable steering column, trip odometer, rear-window defroster, intermittent wipers, reclining front bucket seats, dual visor vanity mirrors, dual cupholders, power plug and tinted glass.

The test car added a $410 premium option package that included cruise control, power mirrors, color-keyed mirrors and door handles and map lamps. With a $425 freight charge, the car stickered at $14,822.

About the only option you might want to add is automatic transmission at $800. When you do, the fuel economy rating goes down to 26/33.

Ride and handling is typical economy-car mundane. You won't get bounced around in the cabin like you might expect in a car that gets 36 m.p.g. on the highway, but you won't be cushioned as you would in a Toyota Avalon either.

Other than price and mileage, what makes the Mirage worth a look is the spacious and comfortable cabin with leg, head and arm room galore both front and rear, as well as a trunk that will hold all the groceries or golf clubs you need to carry. There's also a number of nooks and compartments to store things.

The Mirage is powered by a 1.8-liter, 113-h.p. 4-cylinder, which you would expect to be more than a bit underpowered to boast of such a favorable fuel economy rating. Yet the 1.8 has surprising pep.

When the talk turns to economy cars with above-average performance, Mirage is a sleeper that folks should wake up to.