By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 6.8
The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer compact sedan may not be the most cutting-edge car in its class, but it does offer a number of attractive features that deserve the attention of anyone shopping for a Honda Civic, Ford Focus or Subaru Impreza. From its aggressive nose to its rally-inspired, turbocharged engine options, the Mitsubishi Lancer offers one of the most varied model ranges in the business. The affordable and efficient ES trim stands up well to models like the Nissan Sentra, while the turbocharged Ralliart can give the Volkswagen GTI and Ford Focus a run for their money. And Subaru’s performance-bred WRX doesn’t fear many other cars except when an all-wheel-drive (AWD) Lancer Evolution pops up in its rearview mirror.
If you’re seeking out a compact car that looks good, offers a good performance-to-dollar ratio, and doesn’t look like it was designed in a jelly bean factory, the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer deserves your attention. An impressive warranty and good safety ratings also make this little economy car an attractive prospect.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2015, the Lancer Sportback is no more, but the good news is the rest of the line receives a number of new standard features. All 2015 Lancer sedans now come with heated side mirrors, while the SE model gains hands-free phone connectivity, fog lights and new 16-inch wheels. The Lancer Ralliart gains HID headlights, Rockford-Fosgate audio and rain-sensing wipers.
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. 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. Even without all-wheel drive, the GT model displays impressive grip in the corners, strong braking and agile handling. Interior sound levels are higher than in most compact sedans, but not annoyingly so. If you’re looking for luxury car quiet, the Ford Focus is the current gold standard. On the performance end, it's hard to argue with what the turbocharged Lancer Evolution is dishing out. Power, handling and an insanely quick 0-to-60-mph run are almost enough to make you forget the uncomfortably harsh ride and booming exhaust note – almost.
ROCKFORD-FOSGATE SOUND SYSTEM
Those looking for the best in-car audio in a compact sedan will definitely be impressed by the 2015 Lancer’s 9-speaker, 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system.
6-SPEED AUTO-SHIFTING TRANSMISSION
Mitsubishis’ Twin-Clutch Sportronic automatic transmission (dubbed TC-SST in confusing Mitsu-speak) is an excellent driving companion, able to change gears in manual mode quicker than any of our drivers could do with a standard 5-speed manual gearbox.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer's sharp and modern exterior styling does not extend into its cabin. Here, the Lancer is showing its age, and bland, cheap plastic doesn't help. The lack of a telescoping steering wheel on all models makes it harder to find a perfect fit. Evo editions have well-bolstered, low-sitting Recaro seats up front, but without height adjustment, shorter drivers will struggle to see over the dash. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob make GT and Ralliart trims more appealing.
A 2015 Lancer stands out from other compact sedans with its angular, sporty design, and aggressive snout and forward stance. A rear spoiler and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels add to the athletic character of GT and Ralliart models. Lancer Evolution models take the aggressiveness to another level with flared and vented fenders, two big exhaust outlets, and a massive rear spoiler on GSR trims. The Evo is slightly lower and shorter, but with an extended wheelbase and width for better handling.
Even the least-expensive Mitsubishi Lancer offers decent features for its roughly $18,000 asking price. Included are keyless entry and auto-off headlights. The SE costs a few thousand more but includes an automatic transmission, a stronger engine, all-wheel drive, 6.1-inch touch-screen audio, and heated front seats. Ralliart models feature an excellent turbocharged engine and a more sophisticated version of Mitsubishi's all-wheel-drive system, while Evo models are performance-minded with 291 horsepower, Brembo brakes and customizable all-wheel-drive. Lancers come with a 5-year/60,000-mile transferable warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, except for Ralliart and Evo editions, which trim those to 3-year/36,000-mile and 5-year/60,000-mile limits.
Many of the extras available for the Lancer are wrapped into packages that vary by trim. Base models can be spruced up with a hands-free communication system, 6-speaker audio system, and rear disc brakes in favor of the older drum type. Higher trims can be outfitted with a power sunroof, Rockford-Fosgate premium sound with a 10-inch trunk-mounted subwoofer, navigation, HID (high-intensity discharge) headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers and leather seating.
For 2015, a bevy of 4-cylinder engines and transmission choices are available across the Mitsubishi Lancer lineup. ES models are the least potent, with a 2.0-liter engine that makes 148 horsepower, still adequate for most duties. SE and GT models are endowed with a larger engine and 168 horsepower. Ralliart models boast a turbocharged engine that makes 237 horsepower, enough to make this car very quick, while shrieking-fast Evos are tuned to churn out 291 horsepower. The twin-clutch automatic transmission of those latter two models feels superb, but the continuously-variable automatic transmission available in other models is surprisingly refined. If you opt for the performance-oriented Ralliart or Evo models, be ready to pay extra at the pump for premium gasoline to satisfy their thirsty turbo engines.
2.0-liter inline-4 (ES)
148 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (manual), 26/34 mpg (automatic)
2.4-liter inline-4 (SE, GT)
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 (SE sedan, AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Ralliart)
237 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
253 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Evolution)
291 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg (manual), 17/22 mpg (automatic)
The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at just over $18,000 for an ES model with a 5-speed manual transmission. GT and SE models are a few thousand more but offer many extras for the money. Stepping up to the Ralliart turbocharged model requires just over $30,000, while the Evolution will set you back around $36,000 and can reach over $40,000 with options. At these prices, the Lancer competes with everything from the less expensive Kia Forte on the low end to an Audi A4 luxury sedan on the Evolution end of the spectrum. Before buying, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. Resale value is expected to be in line with compact sedan rivals like the Nissan Sentra and Kia Forte, but below that of segment leaders like the Honda Civic and Subaru Impreza.