By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 5.8
The 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer sedans and Sportback wagon are perhaps the sportiest cars in the profoundly competitive compact-car segment. While there are plenty of more-fuel-efficient choices in the category, few can match the vibrant driving experience and diverse model range provided by the Lancer. From the basic ES sedan to the versatile 5-door Sportback to the high-performance Evolution variant, the Mitsubishi Lancer is an enticing carrot for compact-car shoppers searching for something practical that also looks and handles like a sports car.
If you are looking for a sleek, sharp-handling compact car with a comprehensive warranty, you'll find the Mitsubishi Lancer worth a look.
For 2012, Mitsubishi introduces a new SE trim with standard all-wheel drive (AWD), heated seats and outside mirrors, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and the GT model's more powerful 2.4-liter engine. Additionally, the Lancer Sportback no longer offers a manual transmission and drops the performance-based Ralliart edition from the lineup.
Driving Impressions In order to make a small car ride as well as it handles, engineers must sometimes manhandle the laws of physics. Judging by our test drive in the Lancer GT...model, it would appear the engineers have won the battle. On twisting mountain roads, we were impressed by the GT's composure, as well as its tenacious ability to cling to the pavement. When not tearing through unpopulated mountain passes, we found the smooth and less noisy ES trim to be far more compatible with daily driving needs. Although the ES' cabin is less raucous than in the GT, it still let's in a fair amount of wind and engine noise.
Voice-Activated HDD Navigation
The Lancer's hard drive-based navigation system responds more quickly than traditional DVD-based units. It also features Mitsubishi's new FUSE voice-recognition software for simple multimedia commands.
Keyless Entry and Start
The available FAST-Key system lets you lock, unlock and start the Lancer without ever removing the key fob from your pocket or bag.
Despite its aggressive and modern styling, the Lancer's sleek exterior design, unfortunately, does not carry into the cabin. The interior's stale design and its abundance of hard, cheap plastics are the Achilles' heel of the Lancer. Taller drivers will find the seating position uncomfortable due to the Lancer's lack of a telescoping steering wheel and the minimal thigh support provided by the short seat bottom. The GT and Ralliart trims feature the most appealing interior, with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, deeply bolstered front seats, chrome interior door handles, and high-contrast gauge faces. Rear-seat legroom is surprisingly generous, and the Sportback's flexible configuration delivers an impressive 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space - comparable to many small SUVs.Exterior
The 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer separates itself from the mundane designs of traditional compact cars with its bold stance, aggressive snout and rally car inspired styling. Mitsubishi says the massive front grille was inspired by the air intakes found on high-tech fighter jets - the same source of inspiration behind the Lamborghini Reventon. The base DE model rolls on 16-inch steel wheels while the ES/SE and GT/Ralliart models wear 16-inch and 18-inch alloys, respectively. Chrome accents, color-keyed body pieces and exterior features vary by trim level, successively growing nicer as the dollar signs move upward.
Since the base DE trim lacks the essential creature comforts one would expect from a $16,000 vehicle, we'd recommend taking a step up to the ES, as it adds air conditioning, power door locks, steering-wheel-mounted controls, an auxiliary audio input jack for portable music players and remote keyless entry. Designed for the Snowbelt states, the SE model adds all-wheel drive, a more powerful 2.4-liter engine and heated seats to the mix. GT models gain 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, automatic climate control, FUSE voice-recognition software with Bluetooth hands-free phone capability, a USB port for MP3 players, and sport seats. The Ralliart boasts a 237-horsepower turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive and a 6-speed twin-clutch Sportronic Shift automatic transmission. The high-performance Lancer Evolution features a 291-horsepower turbocharged engine with all-wheel drive, large Brembo brakes and Recaro racing-style front seats.
Some of the Lancer's most desirable options are a hard-drive navigation system and the Deluxe Package which includes FAST Key keyless entry and start, a 710-Watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system with a USB port, FUSE voice-recognition and a sunroof. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) serves as the automatic transmission option for the workaday Lancers, while a twin-clutch Sportronic Shift automatic is available for the Evolution.
For 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer DE and ES trims, the only powertrain decision facing a buyer is whether to stick with the 5-speed manual or go for the CVT. The SE and GT trims, however, get a more robust 168-horsepower 2.4-liter engine, which shows noticeable improvements over the outdated 2.0-liter in the areas of vibration and low-end torque. The CVT-equipped GTS model includes steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The Ralliart trim gains a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine good for 237 horsepower, while the Evolution model whips out 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque.
148 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
146 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm (Sportback: 145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (manual), 26/34 mpg (automatic), 24/32 mpg (Sportback)
168 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
167 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg (manual), 23/30 mpg (automatic), 22/29 mpg (Sportback)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
237 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
253 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
291 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg (manual), 17/22 mpg (automatic)
By KRE on Tuesday, July 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price and very reliable!"
Cons: "Tire pressure sensors no good."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The tire pressure sensors are no good in winter. Any time it is 20 degrees or less outside, they tell you your tires are low whether they are or not. You'll have to look at that warning on the screen until the weather warms up. Aside from that: great little car! Terrific mileage, and it has never not started for me no matter how cold it gets."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By John on Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Affordable, fun to drive, reliable, sporty"
Cons: "Poor interior, poor speaker quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I bought this car used with 22k miles, and the car now has 68k miles. I have not had to take the car to the shop for any reason other than maintenance. The engine is very reliable so far. I really enjoy the continuous transmission - the car never shifts and it feels really smooth. The road noise on this car is terrible. It is really, really loud on the highway on all the tires I have tried, unfortunately. I think that the molding on the car is just cheaply made, so a lot of sound gets through. That being said, unfortunately the interior is very poor quality. So many things have already broken. The fabric seats are very cheap and stain easily. If you as much as sit on it after swimming in a pool, the water stains will haunt you forever. Three out of the four vent adjustment knobs have broken, so we can't adjust which direction the air blows anymore. Also, the CD player broke as the car reached about 40k miles (radio works fine, though). Called the dealer and they said the warranty on it expired at 36k miles, though the warranty on the rest of the car doesn't expire until 60k. Bummer. Other than that, the car looks very nice and sporty on the outside. For the price, it is a great value. I would recommend that you spend a little more and get something much better, though."
16 people out of 31 found this review helpful
By E on Friday, May 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, good mileage, sporty look"
Cons: "issues with tire sensor"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is my first car and I love it. I love the mileage I get, I enjoy how cool it looks and the fact that I have a 5 speed manual that really picks up if I wanted to. It has a 6 cd changer which is cool and the Rockford Fosgate speakers that it came with makes it sound incredible. The only issue I have experienced is that my air stem for the tire broke and I had to buy a sensor for it. It fixed the problem although my car won't register that the sensor is fixed because the tpms service keeps coming up on my dashboard."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Z-man on Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Dependable, good mileage, good handling, Sporty"
Cons: "Cheap feeling interior, Noisy trim"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought my 2012 Lancer GT brand new from the dealer. I had test driven a few different Lancers in the 2 years previous to purchasing. Of course the exterior initially drew me in, the styling is fantastic. My specific car has a 5 speed manual with a 2.4L Mivec engine. For a naturally aspirated 4 cylinder the car has a lot of get up and go. Handling on the twisty mountain roads (which we have a lot of) is excellent. I'm a "spirited" driver and it does not let me down in the corners. It's 47000 miles later and I have not had one single problem with the car! The mechanicals are in great shape and the exterior has held up very well to some nasty PA winters. The interior is pretty plain but functional. The only complaint I have is the trim inside buzzes a bit when I have the music cranked. I almost forgot to mention....I average about 30 miles per gallon!! Overall an excellent car."
7 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By blackcomet on Monday, April 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty look, Sporty drive"
Cons: "NOT the best MPG, Interiors"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought my Lancer GTS with 63 miles, its been 3 years now and I never had any problems with it, the car is not the best car out there but its definitely okay for the price and definitely more fun to drive than some others like Ford, KIA, Hyundai or Toyota, a course not as powerful as the Evo but it can get you up to speed in a good time, the downside is the quality of the interiors which is not the best and besides Bluetooth and NAV it doesn't have any more luxuries."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By amartinez on Tuesday, April 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Affordable, fun, ease of access, super reliable."
Cons: "Interior noise from outside, easy-scratch interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The 2012 Lancer GT is comfortable, stylish, fast enough for normal driving, VERY reliable, and overall an exhilarating machine to operate! The only downside of the car is the noise on the inside. You can hear the road and the wind fairly loud. Also, the interior plastic scratches super easy (but then again what car doesn't now-a-days?) Other than that I have no complaints at all!"
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful