By Don Fuller, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 6.7
The 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer is a thoroughly rational 4-door compact sedan, with multiple trim levels, two engine choices, ample features, good driving dynamics, availability of all-wheel drive (AWD), noteworthy value for the money and a great warranty. Not stunningly outstanding, except for its perfectly logical appeal, buyers looking for just such traits will find the Lancer fills the bill. The five trim levels – ES 2.0, ES 2.4, SE 2.4, SEL 2.4 and GT 2.4 – include a generous complement of standard equipment, numerous commendable safety features and attractive pricing. There is also a fully transferable 5-year/60,000-mile new-vehicle warranty; a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty; a 7-year/100,000-mile anti-corrosion warranty; and 5-year/unlimited-miles roadside assistance – coverage that, Mitsubishi says, leads the industry.
A rational choice for a rational buyer on a moderate budget, the 2016 Lancer is a nice-driving compact 4-door sedan that offers lots of value for the money, a generous assortment of standard safety features and what Mitsubishi says is industry-leading warranty coverage. That’s a lot of automotive peace-of-mind.
While the 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer is a perfectly acceptable compact 4-door sedan offering a decent value, those looking for more inspiring motoring will likely gravitate elsewhere. There are certainly choices that will stand out in the crowd or do a better job at quickening the pulse.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016 the Lancer lineup adds value, with increased levels of standard equipment. Inside is a new front center console and improved audio display, and outside is a new front fascia and chrome grille. Enthusiasts will shed tears, as the awesomely fast Evo model did not make it into 2016.
The driving dynamics of the Mitsubishi Lancer deserve mention, because this compact 4-door rides, drives and handles better than the expectations of its segment require. With only...
... 148 horsepower the base 2.0-liter engine is a little pokey, but the 168-horsepower 2.4-liter is just fine for the Lancer’s nimble mass. While not a sports car, it’s a kind of sporty compact; the ride deals with irregularities, it’s stable and predictable and it turns into mountain curves or those favorite onramps with responsive precision. Interior noise levels are maybe a little high for the class, but not so much that you can’t pick up the tunes or talk being cranked out by the audio system. The ES 2.4, SE 2.4 and SEL 2.4 models include electronically controlled all-wheel drive, which Mitsubishi calls All-Wheel Control, for exemplary traction no matter what the weather brings.
ROCKFORD FOSGATE SOUND SYSTEM
Those looking for the best in-car audio in a compact sedan will be impressed by the 2016 Lancer’s 9-speaker, 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system; it’s standard on the GT 2.4 and optional, as part of the Sun and Sound Package, on the ES 2.0 with CVT. It has our recommendation.
Mitsubishi calls the Lancer’s electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system All-Wheel Control. It includes a mode selector for front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive "Auto" or all-wheel-drive "Lock," to maintain optimum traction in all kinds of weather or driving conditions. It’s standard on the 2.4 ES, 2.4 SE and 2.4 SEL trim levels.
Stylistically, the 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer’s interior could be from any number of compact 4-door sedans. An instrument-panel pod in front of the driver includes the major gauges; low in the center are knobs for the climate controls and above that is a spot for the display screen, which is easily visible but almost looks added-on between the air conditioning vents. All the necessities are present; it’s just not going to knock you out. There is also no telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel. The rear seatbacks fold down for carrying long items.
There’s a slightly sporty stance to the 2016 Lancer, with its nose-down, tail-up rake and tidy shape, and this is accentuated with the GT and its 18-inch wheels and standard rear spoiler. Beyond that, it’s cleanly and nicely done but not memorable. Headlights and grille opening are neatly integrated into the wraparound front fascia, a rising character line along the side emphasizes the rake, and at the rear the taillights kind of mimic the look of the headlights as they curve into the trunklid.
As part of its value message the 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer is well equipped. Standard on the ES 2.0 model are fog lights, power and heated mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, 140-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, power windows and door locks and a comprehensive array of safety features. The three middle trim levels, ES 2.4, SE 2.4 and SEL 2.4, all have the 2.4-liter engine, continuously variable transmission and All-Wheel Control electronically controlled all-wheel drive. Moving up through the trims adds automatic on/off headlights, rain-sensing wipers, more audio system speakers, leather and other convenience items.
Generally, the 2016 Lancer’s options are wrapped into the trim levels and packages. A nice option (which we recommend) is the 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system but, strangely, it’s available only on the 2.0 ES model as an option (as part of the Sun and Sound Package, which includes power sunroof, rearview camera and other features) and the GT 2.4 as standard. There is also a Navigation System Package, All Weather Package, Chrome Package, Popular Equipment Package, LED Illumination Package and an assortment of trim and convenience accessories.
The base Lancer ES 2.0 has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder of 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque, with either a 5-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT). All the upgrade trim levels include the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder of 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque; it’s available with the 5-speed manual in the GT 2.4 model, or with the CVT as standard in the ES 2.4, SE 2.4 and SEL 2.4 and optional in the GT 2.4. The ES 2.0 and GT 2.4 are front-drive, while the other three models have All-Wheel Control all-wheel drive. For the combination of the larger engine, upgraded features, reasonable price and the inclusion of the all-wheel-drive system, we recommend one of the middle trim levels.
2.0-liter inline-4 (ES)
148 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 143 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (California)
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm; 143 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm (California)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 mpg (manual), 27/35 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), 23/31 mpg (automatic, AWD), 24/31 mpg (GT 2.4, automatic)
The 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $18,500 for an ES 2.0 model with the 5-speed manual transmission. A fully loaded GT 2.4 will be around $29,000. For the features and value for the money, we recommend one of the middle trim levels, which also include the all-weather security of the electronically controlled all-wheel drive, and don’t forget the great warranty. Various Lancer models compete with a wide assortment of alternatives: Honda Civic and Accord, Toyota Corolla and Camry, Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu, Ford Focus and Fusion. Before going to the dealer, be sure and check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for a 2016 Lancer. We expect residual values for the Mitsubishi Lancer to be in line with most of the competitors, but below those of historical leaders such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.