2017 Mitsubishi Lancer 2.4 SEL AWC

Susan Frissell

It is always a wonderment to us how the Mitsubishi vehicles continue to remain in the U.S., with all the competition. Although, sales figures demonstrate a good year in 2016, and already February 2017 sales of the Outlander (up 72.8 percent), and Mirage/Mirage G4 (up 145 percent) have increased in volume.

For 2016, Mitsubishi launched the Mirage G4, a new plug-in Outlander version and announced the Outlander PHEV was going to be available in all 50 states. Since 2014, sales have increased every year, suggesting there is still a buyer for this brand. With improvements and a new game plan, Mitsubishi is still appealing to some.

However, the 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer still maintains a dated, almost cheap-looking interior, as it shows its age. Appealing perhaps to ‘money-conscious” buyers, the Lancer seems old-fashioned, when compared to such competition as the redesigned Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus and Honda Civic.

Updated over the years-particularly, since 2014-the Lancer is the oldest four-door sedan sold in the U.S. In its 11th year, the Lancer is available in four trim levels: ES 2.0, ES 2.4 AWC, SE 2.4 AWC and SEL 2.4 AWC. All but the entry-level ES 2.0 model offer all-wheel-drive as standard. Very few changes are on board for the 2017 model year.

Our test car, the top-of-the-line SEL 2.4 AWC came equipped better than most, and carried a MSRP of $22.095; still a reasonable price for a compact sedan. Our test Lancer SEL came equipped with one option, the SEL Sun and Sounds Package (power glass sunroof, 710w Rockford Fosgate Premium Audio System w/9 speakers, $1,500). With destination charges ($835), the SEL carried a total MSRP of $24,430.

Maintaining its claim of “value for the money,” the Lancer has been updated, somewhat. Still, the car is noisy and unrefined, compared to the competition, has a bare-bones interior and so-so fuel economy (23/30/26 mpg. in the 2.4 SEL AWC). The knobs on the audio system are extremely small, making it difficult, we suspect, for the average male to grasp them. Everything feels ‘basic,’ and nowhere near high-tech. Which is ok for us, but for the average techie, this car won’t appeal.

The Mitsubishi Lancer has always maintained a ‘square’ sedan look. As more and more compacts, and all car lines, become etched, with creasing and aerodynamic styling, the Lancer compact just looks more dated. The Lancer’s front end changed somewhat, with grille openings split. Rather than moving ahead in time, though, the Lancer seems to bring back some of its original styling (2007).

The Lancer’s interior is less than inspiring; the center console, new for 2016, is small; the fit and finish and materials are dated. For 2016, the interior black trim and upgraded upholstery was new, but they didn’t really bring the car into the 21st century.

On the other hand, the Lancer’s interior is fairly roomy. The seats, although rather stiff, are comfortable. Road and tire noise, though are present, and most rugged streets aren’t solidly manipulated. The engine is loud and the hard plastic inside just isn’t attractive.

The Lancer offers a base front-wheel-drive ES model, with a 2.0-liter, inline-4 engine, teamed with the 5-speed manual gearbox. An optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available. Moving into the other trim lines (ES, SE, SEL), Mitsubishi’s 2.4-liter inline-4 with 168 hp. Is the standard engine. Paired with CVT and electronically variable all-wheel-drive, this is a better choice and worth the extra bucks. The same system used in Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport SUV, the 2.4-liter is adequate for most driving situations.

The Lancer performs better on the road and in highway driving. It feels secure and sporty, although a little noisier than competitive compacts. Steering is responsive in the Lancer, but again, it doesn’t stand out when compared to its rivals. Safety wise, the Lancer is equipped with the latest in technology, including fog lights, LED running lights, ABS with electronic braking distribution and brake assist, traction control logic, active stability control, side curtain airbags, driver’s side knee airbag, advanced dual-stage front airbags. Lancer has received the IIHAS top rating of “Good” in front offset, side impact and rear impact testing, as well as roof strength testing.

For 2017, the Lancer receives the rearview camera. The 6.1 Touch panel display is small, but adequate. Auto air conditioning climate control is easy to use but not very showy. The Lancer also offers the FUSE hands-free Link System with Bluetooth technology and USB port. Keyless entry with panic alarm is also standard.

Lancer 2.4 SEL AWC

Conscious money savers may opt for the Lancer ES 2.4 or SE 2.4; while the more sports-minded will choose the SEL 2.4 AWC. We suspect the manual transmission might add a little to the car’s sportiness and show off its sport suspension. But as we know, manual drivers are few and far between these days.
Will buyers choose the Lancer over competitors such as Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza? Remains to be seen. As with all categories today, it’s a hard choice.

MSRP: $22,095, total vehicle price $24,430, destination $835
Engine: 2.4-liter MIVED-DOHC 16-valve, 4-cylinder, 168 hp., 167 lb. ft. torque,
Transmission: CVT, , AWC 4WD system, AWC-drive mode selector (2WD/4WD Auto/4WDLock)
Wheelbase: 103.7 in.
Height: 58.3 in.
Width: 69.4 in.
Length: 182.1 in.
Curb Weight: 3,142 lbs.
Wheels: 18-inch alloy, two-tone
Tires: P215/45R18
Fuel tank capacity: 14.5 gal.
EPA fuel economy: 23/30/26 mpg.
Warranty: basic: 5 yr/60,000-miles; roadside assistance: standard; Anti-corrosion: 7 yr/100,000-miles; Powertrain: 10 yr/100,000-miles, limited

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