The Mitsubishi Lancer is a compact sedan that offers crisp styling and sharp handling at an affordable price. It is also available as a five-door hatchback called Sportback, and a wide array of mechanical and interior modifications transform the sedan into the iconic rally-inspired Lancer Evolution.
In spite of its age, the Lancer's "shark-nose" front grille, pointed headlights and crisp lines give it an attractive appearance that help set it apart from the competition.
Though not as unique as the exterior, the cabin features a pleasing and simple design and the controls are all logically laid out. Buyers looking for a touch of luxury should note that the Lancer doesn't feature as many upmarket soft-touch surfaces as some of the newer entries in the segment.
While some Lancers come with a 6.1-inch dash-mounted touch screen that runs the entertainment system, well-equipped models are delivered with Mitsubishi's FUSE infotainment system. FUSE packs the car's connectivity, navigation (if equipped) and entertainment systems into a single easy-to-use touch screen-based software that features voice command in addition to knobs and buttons.
Under The Hood
The regular Lancer offers a choice of two four-cylinder engines and the option of all-wheel drive on select models. Buyers who want more bang for the buck can opt for the performance-inspired Ralliart variant.
The entry-level engine is a 2.0-liter that sends 148 horsepower and 146 lb-ft. of torque to the front wheels via a standard five-speed manual transmission. A Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is available at an extra cost.
Fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the stick. Selecting the CVT results in a one-mpg bump on the freeway.
The next engine up is a 2.4-liter unit that is rated at 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft. of torque. Available on the all-wheel drive SE model and the sport-focused GT, the 2.4-liter is offered with the same transmissions as the smaller mill but the CVT can only be had on the SE.
Mileage checks in at 22 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway for the stick, 23 in the city and 30 on the highway for the CVT and 22 in the city and 29 on the highway for the all-wheel drive model.
The potent Ralliart variant packs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that uses a turbocharger to churn out a healthy 237 horsepower and 253 lb-ft. of torque. Linked to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, the mill sends the Lancer Ralliart from zero to 60 mph in under six seconds.
When driven conservatively, the Ralliart returns 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Lancer Sedan is offered in ES, SE and GT trim levels.
The entry-level ES comes with the aforementioned 2.0-liter four-banger and a five-speed manual transmission. The list of standard equipment includes power windows and locks, a six-speaker 140-watt AM/FM/CD sound system, automatic headlights, air conditioning, keyless entry, and 16-inch steel wheels fitted with plastic hubcaps.
In addition to a larger engine, a CVT and all-wheel drive, the ES adds heated front seats and side mirrors, a 6.1-inch touch screen that controls the entertainment system, a roof rack, SiriusXM satellite radio with a three-month trial, a rear-view camera, HD Radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The front-wheel drive GT does without the ES' heated seats but features a sport-tuned suspension, Mitsubishi's FUSE infotainment system with voice command, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, a rear spoiler and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The range-topping Ralliart model features the same equipment level as the GT but it adds a more aggressive front end, dual exhaust pipes and an aluminum hood with a functional air vent. Inside, the Ralliart boasts a sport steering wheel and cloth upholstered sport seats.
The Lancer can be fitted with several option packages that group key options such as LED lights, a 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate Punch premium sound system with 10-inch subwoofer, soft touch materials on the door panels, navigation, aluminum trim on the inside and chrome trim on the body.
All Lancer models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag, traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
The Lancer's rivals include the Mazda Mazda3, the Subaru Impreza and the Kia Forte.
Lancer Ralliart buyers can also look at the Ford Focus ST and the Subaru Impreza WRX.