2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Review
How can anyone forget about the Mitsubishi Lancer? It is almost like its competition, except the Lancer offers more flavors in terms of performance and driving experience. That is the primary attraction to Mitsubishi’s compact offering.
While enthusiasts wax poetic about the virtues of the 291-horsepower, all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolution, there are quite a few options for consumers to consider in this car. The Lancer line starts with the ES and SE – both with a 2.0liter 148-horsepower four-cylinder. For more performance, you can step up to the GT with its 2.4liter, 168-horsepower four. The ES and GT come with a choice of a four-door sedan or the Sportback five-door model, while the SE and Evo come in the four-door sedan only.
However, the model that offers the best of all worlds may be the one that would surprise you the most – the Ralliart four-door sedan.
If you have ever seen an Evo, consider the Ralliart a toned-down version of the same. It still has an aggressive stance with a low front end, the trademark Mitsubishi grille, Yokohama Advan rubber on eighteen-inch rims, a semi-tall tail and clear rear lenses. There is nothing that speaks “boy racer” on this Lancer Ralliart – this car means business.
Inside is also business-like. The 2014 model receives some updates with a new infotainment interface. It is wider with cleaner graphics and a better navigation system. Add Bluetooth connectivity and SiriusXM radio to the mix and you have a solid infotainment system worthy of the soundtrack from the back of the Ralliart.
Instrumentation and switchgear are straightforward – following the business-like theme of the Lancer Ralliart. You get a mix of dials for the tachometer and speedometer, plus a switchable TFT screen in-between the two. The screen has plenty of clear graphics to monitor your fuel level, consumption and trip information and the engine temperature. All other switches are right to the touch and easy to use.
The seats fit between the heavily bolstered ones in the Evo and the standard issue chairs on lesser Lancers. The Ralliart’s front seats offer the right amount bolstering with good cushion comfort that also keeps the driver tuned to the road. Rear seat is adequate – made to provide comfort for up to average sized adults.
Though it has 237 horsepower, the 2.0liter MIVEC turbocharged four-cylinder simply feels like an Evo. It has mounds of boost when you step on the throttle. Be careful when you settle down, because that boost will kick down after being opened up. At normal throttle, this is a superior motor with immediate thrust that remains civilized in the higher gears.
The Ralliart only comes with Mitsubishi’s dual-clutch SST transmission with two modes. Normal is fine with shifts ranging from smooth to jerky – depending on how much throttles is applied. There is a trick to quell the transmission a bit. If you are in a parking lot and is going slowly, use the “+” paddle on the steering column to shift into second. That way, the transmission will be fine as you slowly get around the lot – or in traffic. All Ralliarts gets the All-Wheel Control system sending power to all four wheels.
The best piece of the Ralliart is its surefooted tracking. Handling is superior, finding the groove through the curves and keeping the Lancer near flat with the Earth’s surface. Steering response is sharp and turns are tight. Yet, you might feel that the steering is a bit heavier at first, turning into some degree of play in the straights when cruising. Brakes have great response and stop well at both normal and panic stops. The Yokohama Advan tires grip the tarmac as it is expected to.
The price of great handling will always be in the ride department. Though it is smoother than the Evo, the Ralliart will react to bumpy roads and uneven pavement with its stiff suspension. However, get on a smooth piece of road and the Ralliart will reward you with a civilized ride.
Another price for having a performance sedan is fuel economy. The 22.5MPG fuel economy average was higher than what was advertised on the sticker. That is actually a very good thing indeed!
If you are considering the Lancer, prices start at $17,990 for an ES sedan with a manual transmission. Three trim levels and two engines later, you arrived at the Ralliart – starting at $29,190 for the privilege of owing 237 turbocharged horses. This tester came out to $31,565 with the Navigation package. You can get even more luxurious with the Touring package, which tones down the wing and adds a lot of great equipment, including leather seating, for about $34,340.
If you must ask, Lancer Evolution prices begin at $35,790 for a GSR with a manual gearbox. You might say they are a bargain for which you might consider against one.
Some may dismiss the Lancer for not being in tune with the rest of the compact sedan segment. This is not true, thanks to a choice of performance and equipment levels that range all the way to levels of ultimate performance. For honest performance and balanced driving dynamics, there are plenty of Ralliarts available to offset the need for an Evo and compromise of a lesser model. Yet, you will find serendipity in any Lancer – at any budget.
**If you are interested in a Mitsubishi Lancer, log onto CarSoup.com to find out what is available on sale. **
Photos © Mitsubishi Motors North America