After nearly a decade on the market, the Lancer still delivers crisp looks and high feature content for the money. But what really sets it apart from other compact sedans is the availability of all-wheel drive.

Pricing and Equipment

As before, the Lancer is offered in four trim levels. The turbocharged Ralliart is gone, but the upmarket the SEL has been added:

  • Starting at just $17,595, the ES offers you features like automatic climate control, heated mirrors, foglamps, and alloys wheels.
  • Priced at $20,995, the popular SE gets a larger engine and standard all-wheel drive, plus extras such as heated front seats, keyless ignition, a rearview camera, and an upgraded sound system.
  • The new SEL ($21,995) adds an upgraded interior with leather upholstery and some additional convenience features.
  • The sporty GT get is own suspension and premium features like a sunroof and a Rockford Fosgate sound system, all starting a $22,495.

All models are eligible for a navigation system ($1,800), LED foglamps ($320), and rear parking sensors ($295).

Performance Pros

Mitsubishi Lancer

The Lancer ES starts out with a 2-liter four-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower, matched to a five-speed manual transmission or optional ($1,000) continuously variable automatic (CVT). For another $1,400, you can upgrade to a 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 168 horsepower, which includes the CVT and all-wheel drive. The SE and SEL come standard with this setup.

The front-drive-only GT also gets the 2.4-liter, along with your choice of the manual or CVT.

Performance highlights include:

  • Steering/Handling: The Lancer has always been on the sporty side of this class. Its quick, confident handling remains one of its best attributes.
  • All-Wheel Drive: It's optional or standard on all models except the GT, a rarity for this class.
  • Acceleration: The 2.4-liter engine used in most models is more than sufficient to move the Lancer with authority.

Performance Cons

  • At 25-30 mpg in combined city and highway driving, the Lancer trails most competitors by at least a few mpg.
  • Other compacts have come a long way in terms of ride quality, and the Lancer's now ranks as below average.

Interior Pros

  • The rear accommodations are surprisingly spacious. Two adults can ride in all-day comfort; three will fit fine on short trips.
  • A split-folding rear seat is standard across the board.

Interior Cons

  • While the interior looks better than it used to, the design and materials remain disappointing considering the level of refinement found in other compacts these days.
  • Wind noise can become downright annoying at highway speeds.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The Lancer is the cheapest route to an all-wheel drive vehicle with leather seating that we know of.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Despite regular updates, the Lancer feels like the product of a different era.

The Bottom Line

Cost-conscious buyers who must have all-wheel drive will be able to overlook the Lancer's age-related shortcomings.