2016 Mitsubishi Lancer: A Basic AWD Car That Feels A Bit Too Basic
2016 Mitsubishi Lancer 2.4L SEL AWC | MSRP: $21,995 | Price as Tested: $22,805
Engine: 2.4L; 168 h.p. 167 lb-ft | MPG: 23 city / 31 hwy
There really aren’t too many cars you can get that give you AWD traction combined with an entry-level price point. If you prefer a car to an SUV or Crossover, this and the Subaru Impreza are really your only options. We’ve reviewed the Impreza, now let’s take a look at Mitsubishi’s entry into this small class of small cars. The first thing that strikes you when you get in the Lancer is just how dated it feels. That’s not too big of a shock, considering that the model is approaching ten years old. Most manufacturers try to come up with a new version more often than that, and this is the reason why: You are instantly transported back to the mid-2000’s when you sit in it.
The only thing that tips you off that it’s 2016 is the 6” touchscreen LCD that looks like it was retrofitted into the older dash – because that’s exactly what was done. The rest of the controls and switches are very dated and seem loose/wobbly to the touch. We understand the need to save money on an economy car, but interior materials have advanced so much since 2007 that this car suffers from a lack of updating.
A bright spot overall is the car’s handling – while it lacks very good steering feel (possibly due to the very high-profile tires) – it does handle very well around corners. The steering feels numb on center, and doesn’t give a crisp feedback when initiating a turn. The car is balanced and has good stability; however, we imagine that in the snow it would perform superbly. There are three different modes you can select for the AWD system, either full-time FWD, Auto (which selects the best mode for the conditions,) and Locked which is full-time AWD. The full-time setting is probably best saved for if you do get stuck, we would just leave it in Auto and let the car decide.
It’s not a huge surprise that the actual handling is good, as the Lancer has historically been offered in the racy Evolution version with turbo power and advanced AWD technology. Unfortunately for car enthusiasts, they cancelled that version a few years ago, leaving us with only the more pedestrian versions. They even cancelled the Ralliart version, which left out the turbocharged engines, but kept the sport suspension and body.
There are two engines currently available, both conventional aspirated 4-cylinders. The base 2.0-Liter engine, and the 168hp 2.4-Liter in our test car. The engine too feels dated, with a lack of any eco-friendly technology, direct injection or turbocharging. Coupled with the CVT transmission, the Lancer is pretty…