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#21

in 2009 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $7,746 - $10,071
Original MSRP: $14,540 - $19,540
MPG: 22 City / 30 Hwy
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2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Opinions on the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer's performance vary depending on the model driven. Most agree the lower trims will provide satisfying power and ride, but there are mixed impressions of the higher trims. Several wish the power offered in the GTS and soon-to-be released Ralliart were closer to the performance of the Lancer Evolution.

  • "While the Lancer DE and ES are reasonably rewarding to drive, the GTS model is the clear choice for anyone looking for a more spirited driving experience. The new 2.4-liter engine has more low-end power and doesn't sound like a giant blender above 3,000 rpm, making for a friendlier drive whether you're on a twisty road or slogging through traffic." -- Edmunds
  • "While we knew that the Lancer GTS wouldn't be a hard-core driver's car, we do wish it carried a greater amount of the Evolution's DNA." -- Automobile Magazine

Acceleration and Power

The DE and ES Lancers are powered by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine putting out 152 horsepower, and the GTS has a 2.4-liter engine with 168 horsepower. Despite the obvious power differences between the two, reviewers say the most significant difference in performance is between transmissions. Test drivers prefer the light shifting of the manual transmission to the not-so-seamless continuously variable transmission.

According to the EPA, the DE and ES Lancers rate at 22/30 mpg city/highway with the standard manual transmission. The optional CVT rates at 22/28 mpg. The GTS Lancer should achieve 21/28 mpg with a manual, and 21/27 mpg featuring the CVT.

  • "The 152-hp Lancers only have adequate pickup with manual transmission, and they're borderline sluggish with the CVT. All feel weakest when pulling away from a stop. GTS models with the 2.4-liter engine are stronger in all situations." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Most folks will opt for the CVT, but the five-speed manual is a much better choice with its slick shifter and easily modulated clutch. With the base 2.0-liter mill in particular, the CVT tends to sap power, pairing with this already noisy engine to fill the cabin with shrill sounds reminiscent of irritated livestock." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The handling dynamics of the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer win praise from most, but there are also numerous complaints about the amount of road noise.

  • "The DE and ES exhibit decent grip in turns, but steering is not especially direct or communicative. … Though the brakes feel strong, nosedive is evident in quick stops." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The laws of physics dictate that it's easier to make a small car handle well than it is to give it a smooth highway ride. Still, we were impressed with just how tenacious and composed the Lancer GTS proved to be on twisty roads." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While the ride was relatively smooth, there was a significant amount of road noise intruding on the cabin. It was so loud on certain surfaces that it actually impeded a conversation with a passenger. Solo drivers might find solace in the stereo." -- Cars.com

Lancer Ralliart

For 2009, Mitsubishi is set to introduce the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, slotted between the Lancer GTS and the Lancer Evolution in both performance and price. But preliminary reviews of the trim are mixed. Some reviewers express dissatisfaction with the car's performance, especially compared to the Evolution, while others are pleased with its power compared to the GTS.

  • "While the extra power is appreciated, there seemed to be way too much roll, dive and squat for this to be a serious contender for performance buyers." -- AutoWeek
  • "Run through tight turns, the Ralliart isn't as sharp as the Evo X, but it turns in quicker than the Lancer GTS and has significantly less body roll." -- Edmunds
  • "On the Malibu back roads, the Ralliart doesn't feel like it's rolling on four gummy erasers, but it isn't as darty as the EVO, either. Trust me, though -- it's plenty nimble and offers ride firmness." -- Motor Trend

Next Steps: 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer

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