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#40

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $17,395 - $38,995
Invoice: $16,660 - $37,350
MPG: 25 City / 34 Hwy
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Mitsubishi Lancer Performance

Automotive journalists say that the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer has nimble handling and optional engines that deliver strong acceleration. However, critics report that the Lancer’s ride can be stiff and noisy at speed. Additionally, some reviewers write that even the Lancer Ralliart is outperformed by sporty rivals like the Subaru WRX or Ford Focus ST.

  • "If you upgrade to the performance version of the Lancer, the Ralliart, things are much more entertaining and lively, but the experience still falls short of sporty compact cars like the Ford Focus ST, Subaru WRX and Volkswagen GTI." -- Edmunds
  • "With such a wide range of engine and drivetrain options, a Mitsubishi Lancer sedan can be described as anything from demure daily driver to demon on four wheels." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Moreover, the Mitsubishi's 23/30 mpg fuel economy rating is lower than most midsize sedans with 100 more horsepower. On the bright side, we did net 30 mpg on a highway trek - but that's the same kind of fuel economy we've gotten out of much larger and more powerful vehicles." -- Left Lane News (2014)
  • "All models have excessive levels of road noise, which effectively drowns out other audible sources, including the radio in some models. The engines sound crude and unrefined, exacerbated by the CVT, which allows engine speed to race ahead of road speed." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The base Lancer ES comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower, and either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). SE AWC (all-wheel drive) and GT trims have a 168-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The all-wheel drive Lancer Ralliart has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 237 horsepower and a six-speed automated manual transmission. A base Lancer with the CVT returns an EPA-estimated 26/34 mpg city/highway, which is slightly low for the class.

The all-wheel drive, high-performance Lancer Evolution has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. It comes with a five-speed manual transmission, or an optional six-speed automated manual transmission.

According to test drivers, the Lancer's base engine has sufficient power for daily driving, though some say the available 2.4-liter engine makes the Lancer feel noticeably stronger. However, critics note that the base engine is noisy, and that the CVT does not make the best use of the engine’s available power. Reviewers mention that the Ralliart trim has ample power, though its transmission shifts abruptly at low speeds.

  • "The Lancer ES model's 148-horsepower engine isn't big on power, but it is efficient. Short of the 291-horsepower Evolution model, we like the power and performance offered in the turbocharged Ralliart." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The base 2.0-liter engine in the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer will likely be powerful enough for most daily commutes, but 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." -- Left Lane News (2014)
  • "The Ralliart is quite potent once the turbocharger kicks in; its automated-manual transmission is a bit clunky during low-speed commuting but responds very quickly during spirited driving." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say that the 2015 Lancer has nimble handling, especially if you’re considering a Lancer GT, which features a sport-tuned suspension. However, critics comment that the Lancer is noisy at speed and has a stiff ride, which can make it an uncomfortable daily driver.

  • "The GT's sport-tuned suspension also makes it more capable during spirited driving on back roads. However, the bigger wheels and tires on the GT also generate more road noise, so you'll have to decide whether its better handling is worth a less serene cabin environment." -- Edmunds
  • "Even without all-wheel drive, the GT model displays impressive grip in the corners, strong braking and agile handling." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Another editor pointed out the downfalls of Lancer's sportier DNA. For example, we cannot describe the ride as smooth for passengers. You definitely feel the road and all of its topography in this sedan." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "Front-drive Lancers have decent grip with the GT being the most capable. The SE offers a better balance between capability and comfort, with its AWD system providing a welcome dose of additional traction. The Ralliart's Lancer Evolution roots shine here, with much better steering feel and body control than any other car in the lineup." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
Review Last Updated: 11/17/14

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