Mitsubishi's venerable compact sedan, which dates back to 2002, earned a substantial increase in equipment last year, meant to resonate with value-conscious shoppers. As before, what really sets the Lancer apart from most competitors is the availability of all-wheel drive.
Loss of the performance-packed Lancer Evolution after the 2015 model year shaved away some of the model’s edginess. Now, the GT edition is gone, too. Most compact competitors are better-known than the Lancer.
What's New for 2017
A rearview camera now is standard on all Lancers. So is a 6.1-inch touchscreen radio. The entry-level Lancer ES is fitted with new 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels. Two-tone 18-inch wheels now are standard on SE and SEL models. Sun and Sound Packages are newly available for ES and SEL Lancers. The GT model has been dropped.
Choosing Your Mitsubishi Lancer
The Lancer starts with a 2-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower, matched to a five-speed manual transmission or optional continuously variable automatic (CVT). However, most models are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that generates 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque, which can be paired with the CVT and all-wheel drive. The 2-liter models come only with front-drive.
Fuel economy is reasonably thrifty, at least with the smaller engine. With manual shift, the Lancer ES is estimated at 24 mpg in city driving and 33 mpg on the highway (28 mpg combined). The optional CVT raises the figures to 27/34 mpg (city/highway), and 30 mpg combined. With the 2.4-liter engine, the estimate dips to 23/30 mpg (city/highway), or 26 mpg combined.
Inside, the Lancer merits acclaim for its spacious rear accommodations and standard split-folding backseat. Three trim levels are offered. Only the ES comes with front-wheel drive and the choice of manual shift.
All trim levels are eligible for an optional navigation system, LED illumination, and an all-weather package. ES and SEL models can get a Sun and Sound package with a sunroof and a 710-watt, nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system.
Mitsubishi’s compact tends to be overlooked, but it offers quite a bit for a modest price. When it comes to features for the price, the SEL might be impossible to beat. We can't think of another car that gives you all-wheel drive and a leather interior for less money. Even the basic ES, has a good selection of amenities, including a rearview camera.