By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 6.6
Of the dozen different mainstream compact cars from which to choose, the 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer is the oldest, by far. Its current generation dates back a decade, and while some updates have been made over that span, the Lancer lags better options that range from the benchmark Honda Civic to ever-improving rivals like the Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze. The Lancer's long-in-the-tooth status isn't its only detriment. In addition to lacking the latest tech, safety and comfort features, the Lancer's lineup and engine choices have dwindled. The Evo performance model is gone, as are the versatile Sportback hatch and the spicy Ralliart turbocharged variant. Still, some bright spots remain. In the Lancer's favor are available all-wheel drive, aggressive looks and a long warranty.
Whether you want fuel economy that exceeds 40 mpg, the latest technology like Apple CarPlay, or safety features and driving aids like blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking and active cruise control, better choices than the Lancer abound among compact cars. The Lancer also suffers in resale value.
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The 2017 Lancer gains a standard rearview camera and display audio system, while higher trims receive 18-inch wheels. The front-drive-only Lancer GT is no longer offered, the latest trim to exit the Lancer lineup.
... Sentra, and that remains true. While the base 2.0-liter engine is rather anemic, the more recommendable 168-horsepower 2.4-liter moves the Lancer better than expected. All 2.4-liter models come with a selectable All Wheel Control system that lets you choose between front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) for better traction on slippery roads. The Lancer is moderately fun in corners and its continuously variable automatic transmission does a decent job mimicking a conventional automatic. But more flingable fun can be had in a Mazda3, and a Honda Civic's CVT feels more natural. Unfortunately the Lancer still uses a tilt-only steering wheel. Without the ability to telescope, it can compromise driving position. Outward visibility is good, but interior noise levels remind you you're in a dated compact car.
ROCKFORD FOSGATE SOUND SYSTEM
This 9-speaker, 710-watt audio system available in a package brings some much-needed premium-quality fare to the 2017 Lancer. It also sounds really good.
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 is now standard on all 2.4-liter Lancer models.
Even in top form, the 2017 Lancer's 5-passenger interior is pretty drab and dated. Hard plastics, minimal controls and a steering wheel that doesn't even telescope are what you'll have to live with in Mitsubishi's small sedan. Among the few bright spots is the now-standard 6.1-inch touch-screen display that controls audio functions and the optional navigation system. We hope you like black, as that's the only interior color available, whether you go with the standard cloth seating or available leather. The rear seat folds in a 60/40-split for added cargo flexibility.
The Mitsubishi's exterior style is among its best attributes. Despite its age, this small sedan still looks sharp with its nose-down, tail-up sporty stance. We especially like these when outfitted with a rear spoiler -- don't worry, it’s far more subtle than the boy-racer wing festooned on past Evos. Base models of the 2017 Lancer roll on new 16-inch 2-tone alloy wheels, while higher models get 18-inch alloy wheels. Top-line SEL models have a chrome beltline.
In its most basic form, as a Lancer 2.0 ES, this Mitsubishi sedan now comes better equipped for 2017 with standard features like a 6.1-inch touch-screen audio display, rearview camera, alloy wheels, Fuse Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and 4-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with HD Radio and USB input. All Lancers include seven airbags and traction/stability-control systems. Of note is Mitsubishi's warranty, which covers 10 years/100,000 miles for the powertrain, a fully transferrable 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, and five years/unlimited miles of roadside assistance.
Stepping up to a 2.4-liter Lancer brings the larger, more powerful and more recommendable engine, automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive system. SE and SEL models have sport-tuned suspension, heated front seats and upgraded audio system, while topline SEL models come with leather interior, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic headlights. The Lancer's lone major package, called "Sun & Sound," includes a sunroof and the premium Rockford Fosgate audio system. A navigation system is also available, as are rear parking sensors and roof-rack crossbars.
The latest Lancer is available with just two engines, and only one of them is really recommendable. Base models use a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that puts out a just-adequate 148 horsepower. The more recommendable choice is the 168-horsepower 2.4-liter. For 2017, all 2.0-liter models are front-wheel drive (FWD), while all 2.4-liter versions are all-wheel drive (AWD). A manual transmission is used only in the base 2.0 model. All others use a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Note: As with other 2017 cars, the Lancer's fuel-economy ratings are slightly lower this year due to a change in EPA testing.
148 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 mpg (manual), 27/34 mpg (automatic)
168 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
167 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $18,630 for an ES 2.0 model with the 5-speed manual transmission. Adding an automatic transmission is another $1,000. At the top of the Lancer lineup, an SEL model is just under $23,000 and can climb another few thousand with a navigation system and the sunroof/audio package. These prices are certainly enticing, but in reality aren't that far below better rivals like the Honda Civic or Mazda3. In the case of the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte, which are fresher, more efficient and match Mitsubishi's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, those competitors start for less than the less-recommendable Lancer. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Mitsubishi. As you've probably surmised, the Lancer's resale value is yet another area in which it trails the competition.