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#39

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $17,195 - $38,195
Invoice: $16,469 - $36,584
MPG: 26 City / 34 Hwy
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Mitsubishi Lancer Performance

Reviewers say that while the Lancer’s base engine provides sufficient power on city streets, it’s very loud and feels sluggish, particularly when paired with the continuously variable transmission. Performance-tuned models like the Ralliart and Evolution have more powerful engines and superb handling, but offer little in the way of ride comfort, test drivers note.

  • "With power output that ranges from 148 horsepower to a turbocharged 291, engine choice has a profound impact on the Lancer driving experience. That said, the whole lineup favors responsiveness, balance and driver involvement.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "To start, the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that takes the place of a conventional automatic transmission saps the strength of the Lancer's four-cylinder engines, particularly the base 2.0-liter. Performance is still passable, but the level of noise in the cabin during hard acceleration is excessive.” -- Edmunds
  • "But Mitsubishi's CVT did not impress us as much as other examples we've tried in Nissan vehicles. It delivered fine everyday performance, creating smooth acceleration, but manual shifts took about as long as with a standard automatic, showing surprising sluggishness." -- CNET (2011)
  • "The engine fails to keep wheezy and unrefined noises in check, too. The wind, road and engine noises all add up to an unrefined car that's hard to swallow no matter how well the Lancer GT handles or how good it looks." -- Cars.com (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer has four available engines, each with four cylinders. The base sedan has a 2.0-liter engine that generates 148 horsepower, while SE and GT trims come with a 2.4-liter engine that makes 168 horsepower. Ralliart and Evolution models have turbocharged 2.0-liter engines that make 237 and 291 horsepower, respectively, with the Evolution making 300 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is standard. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) or an automated manual transmission is also available, depending on the trim. Equipped with a CVT, the base Lancer achieves the model line’s highest fuel economy rating, with an EPA-estimated 26/34 mpg city/highway. That’s decent for a compact car, but not as good as class leaders like the Mazda Mazda3. The turbocharged Lancer Evolution gets 17/22 mpg city/highway, which is typical of a high-performance vehicle, but poor for the class.

Reviewers say the Lancer’s base 2.0-liter engine offers sufficient power for everyday driving, but the added power of the available 2.4-liter is a welcome improvement. The top-of-the-line Evolution model receives the most praise for its lightning fast acceleration. The Ralliart also receives high marks for its peppy, turbocharged engine.Test drivers note that the base engine is quite loud, especially when paired with the CVT. Though the CVT is quieter in higher trims, it can be sluggish, reviewers note. On the other hand, auto writers say the standard five-speed manual transmission is responsive and adds a touch of fun.

See the full 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer specs »

  • "Most consumers will find a 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer with the base 2.0-liter engine powerful enough for their daily commute. Unfortunately, this engine is quite noisy during passing and merging maneuvers. The programming of the CVT only makes the problem worse, because engine rpm goes way up as soon as you stomp on the gas pedal. If your budget allows it, opt for the 2.4-liter engine in the SE and GT. Not only does this more desirable engine sound better, but it also makes more power at lower revs, so even with the CVT, it stays quieter on the highway." -- Edmunds
  • "With 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft. of torque on tap, Lancer GT is among the segment's most powerful offerings. Unfortunately, that grunt is poorly mated to a continuously variable transmission. In stop-and-go traffic, it's difficult to accelerate smoothly thanks to a poorly-tuned throttle, which either gives nothing in the way of power or snaps heads back into headrests. Moreover, sudden stops in our tester induced a shudder from the drivetrain unbecoming of a modern car." -- Left Lane News
  • "The five-speed manual is the heart and soul of this sedan. The throws are a bit long and the clutch is a touch rubbery, but mostly it's a good stick shift. It makes you want to drive energetically, take off hard out of first and corner with gusto. I dropped down into second, hugged a corner and accelerated hard out -- which is a nice example of how the Lancer GT makes everyday driving maneuvers fun and engaging." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "With the 2.0-liter engine, Lancer is not the least-powerful compact car, but it sometimes feels like it. Power is borderline adequate with the manual transmission and downright sluggish with the CVT. The 2.4-liter engine that's standard on the SE and GT is stronger in all situations." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

Regardless of which trim you choose, reviewers say the Lancer has decent handling, responsive steering and excellent grip, especially in trims with all-wheel drive. However, many also note that none of the Lancer models offers a particularly comfortable ride. Higher trims, like the Lancer Ralliart and Evolution, are tuned for performance and handle even more nimbly, but also ride even more harshly, test drivers say. Still, some reviewers say the Lancer GT offers a firm, but composed, ride.

  • "All-wheel-drive models, including the well-priced Lancer SE, are especially adept at clinging to pavement when thrown into corners. Even front-wheel-drive models such as the mid-range GT model we tested are impressively composed and grippy. The slightly smoother and quieter ES is well-suited to around-town driving duties, though it still talked to us about the road surface and what the tires were doing. The pinnacle performer is the Evo, which has screaming acceleration and black hole-like adhesion. The Evo feels rally-ready, but be warned: Its utterly stiff ride will jar your back and your brain. A happier medium is the all-wheel-drive Lancer Ralliart, which offers turbocharged thrills and a more compliant ride." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "In GT spec, its suspension is stiff, but we generally found it to be well composed over undulating terrain. In the twisties, the narrow tires gave it a delightfully tossable feel that, when combined with what's arguably the best and most communicative steering in its class, reminded us that this GT isn't far removed from the fire-breathing Evo." -- Left Lane News
  • "When you're not having fun tossing this car around, you're really not having fun. The ride is harsher than an all-wheel-drive Lancer we tested without the sports suspension; rough roads jostle the GT, and the suspension thwacks unpleasantly over bumps." -- Cars.com (2013)
  • "All Lancers trail compact-class leaders. Bump absorption is decent. Lower-line models ride better on account of their smaller wheels and tires. The GT rides more firmly, but not so much as to make it significantly worse than other Lancers. Ralliart is the tautest of the lot, though it doesn't exhibit the general harshness of its high-strung Evolution stablemate." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
Review Last Updated: 11/1/13

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