The Mitsubishi Lancer can fit a family of four but many would argue that's not its main purpose. The aggressively styled sedan is reasonably priced and is the watered down version of the souped-up Lancer Evolution. The base level DE and ES offer a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine that's rated at 148 horsepower and mated to a five-speed manual or continuously variable transmission.
If that's not enough, the GTS serves up a 2.4-liter inline-4 engine producing 168 horsepower. The same options for a gearbox apply to the GTS as to the base models. The Ralliart delivers a little more performance with a turbocharged engine that squeezes 237 horsepower out of the normal 2.0-liter inline-4. If you want more than that then you need to check out the Lancer Evolution, which is reviewed separately.
Body style: Sedan
Engines: 2.0-liter inline-4, 2.4-liter inline-4
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, continuously variable transmission
Models: DE, ES, GTS, Ralliart
Mitsubishi's Fuse voice-activated media system enters its sophomore season riding along with the Lancer. Besides that the Lancer sees minimal changes for 2012 after receiving electric-assisted power steering and brake regeneration to the base models last year.
The 2012 Lancer comes dressed to play in your choice of four trims, DE, ES, GTS, and Ralliart. The base DE and ES rolls along on 16-inch steel wheels. Optional packages include the Alloy Wheel setup which includes 16-inch alloy wheels and rear disc brakes in place of drums as well as a rear stabilizer bar. Other aerodynamic and aerodynamic tweaks can be made to both the DE and ES trims. The GTS gets 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, sport tuned suspension, and a rear spoiler. A Touring package can be slapped onto the GTS and Ralliart which includes xenon headlights, a sunroof, and a small rear spoiler.
Where the bold exterior design gives off the sense of being the bully when you first lay eyes on it, the interior quickly undoes all of that. A combination of mediocre quality materials and bland styling, the Lancer is filled with enough hard plastics to make a toy store green with envy. A non-telescoping steering wheel will provide comfort issues for taller drivers, but the rear seats are comfortable for the class. Legroom is plentiful in back as well. The rear seats also fold flat in a 60/40 split to fit larger cargo. The trunk checks in with a smaller 11.6 cubic feet of space. Mitsu's voice-activated system, dubbed Fuse, rides along with the Lancer for 2012 and shares features similar to Ford's Sync system.
Performance & Handling
A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 148 horsepower is stuffed into the DE and ES engine bay. The Lancer GTS gets a bigger 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that is rated for 168 horsepower. A five speed manual gearbox is attached to both engine variants while a continuously variable transmission is optional on the ES and GTS. The GTS also already includes a manual mode where gears are shifted through paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. The Ralliart is blessed with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 responsible for 237 horsepower with power distributed to all four wheels.
Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, front-seat side, full-length curtain head, and a driver's knee airbags. Stability control also checks in as a standard feature. Four-wheel disc brakes only make an appearance on the GTS and Ralliart models while the lower trimmed DE and ES models are slowed with rear drum brakes.
EPA Fuel Economy
DE: 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway
ES: 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway
GTS: 22-23 mpg city/30-31 mph highway
Ralliart: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway
- Robust engines in the GTS and Ralliart
You Won't Like
Poor base engine
Mitsu's star child
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