‘Good Looks Count for a Lot!’
I still remember my knee-jerk
reaction to the Saturn Ion 4-door a few years back. It was one of those
times that I wanted to say, “Well, I’m sure it has a great
personality.” Nearly every automaker is guilty of producing some
hideous machines that they call, “avant-garde,” while the rest of us look for the ugly stick used to beat it into shape.
2009 Mitsubishi Lancers look cool. This car has great lines and stands
out from every other machine on the road – period. Everything from the
shark inspired (or F-86 fighter plane) front end to the well rounded
fender bulges. Even the angry looking headlights look great.
is the good news: it’s a nice drive too! No, it’s not a road rocket and
you won’t get the feeling that you’re in the monster Evo X or Lancer
Ralliart (even though they share many of the same components). In the
Lancer, you can get a sporty, damn good looking, well equipped car on
If you are okay with a mellow 2 liter, 4 cylinder
putting out 152 horsepower (143 in California) and 146 lb feet of
torque, then the Lancer DE might be up your alley. I would recommend
the 5 speed manual over the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) if
you want the most oomph out of the power-plant. However, the CVT is
perfectly happy buzzing you along all day – and it does buzz a bit.
2009 GTS (with the addition of 16 horsepower) looks slick and has a
more aggressive suspension setup; it is a fun driver’s car. This, along
with great looking 18 inch wheels and nifty paddle shifters added to
the CVT, gives you a slick ride. I still recommend the 5 speed manual
if you want the most out of the GTS (and want to save about a grand),
but the CVT is a fun toy that feels like it’s actually shifting (which
it is not).
The only downside to the interior is the use of some rather cheap
plastics and not quite enough sound deadening. I like the simple
temperature controls and the excellent driving position. This is a
great car for tall people or people with long legs as the center
council is narrow and the foot well is acceptably wide. Backseat
comfort is nice with enough room for two adults and one child (or two
baby seats and one adult). Even the trunk is spacious and the rear
seats fold down 60/40 for maximum utility – shamefully, not all cars in
this bracket have that option.
When I first saw the new Lancer up
close, I struggled to compare its looks to other cars. When I first
drove the Lancers, I had that same dilemma. Then I remembered seeing a
review in a European car magazine about the lovely Alfa Romeo 159. Yes,
the Lancer looks quite a bit like one of the best looking, reasonably
priced, European sedans out there.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have
the same interior nor does it make the same sweet sounds as the Alfa
Romeo. Still, shifting through the gears in the current GTS is
downright gratifying. The same could be said for the base model DE.
Steering feel is better than many cars in either bracket, Both of these
models look great and I wager you could make a base model DE look
incredible with some aftermarket wheels. On the other hand, the beefier
suspension and standard features of the GTS are a compelling deal-maker.
I drove the Mitsubishi Lancer DE around corners, it took a lot of
prodding to get the car to over-steer. Once it did, recovery was as
easy as removing my foot from the accelerator. Highway cruising was
very nice and I felt fairly secure despite the wind and road noise. The
taller side walls on the DE’s less aggressive rubber made for a better
highway ride than the GTS. Also, the DE was just sporty enough to make
things interesting in the bends.
The GTS is a bit more serious
and feels great when driving fast. The lower profile tires made a
little more noise and the steering was more sensitive than the DE,
which aided in its upper level, sporting pretensions. It is nice to
feel the road and the steering in the GTS did not disappoint. The
additional 16 horsepower (168 horsepower) was not as apparent to me as
the wider tires and tighter suspension. It felt just about as quick in
town as the DE. Merging onto the highway and passing traffic was
another story. Each one of those hidden ponies made their presence
known. The GTS’s 0 to 60 times were about 7 and ½ seconds (with the DE
about a second slower). 60 mph to 0 distances in the GTS were recorded
in under a very good 116 feet.
You can get a well rounded base
model DE for around $17,000 (they start under 14K) and if you go full
tilt for the loaded GTS expect to pay around $24,000. Either way, you
get a lot for the money. Consider this: the 2009 Chevrolet Aveo 4-Door
LT, loaded with many options, will cost about $16,000. Now, that’s a
107 horsepower wee little Aveo. Not a terrible car, but you can forget
about looking over your shoulder and smiling after a few days. The
additional $1,000 for the base Lancer would be well worth it.
to the aforementioned value is a 5 year, 60,000 mile bumper to bumper
warranty along with a 10 year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. Not too
shabby – and you get 5 year/unlimited mile roadside assistance to boot.
Don’t forget the seven airbags that come standard (front, side, rear
sides and a driver’s knee airbag). EPA estimates for both vehicles is
around 22 city and 30 mpg highway – not too shabby.
Don’t be fooled by what you may have heard about the component
sharing between Chrysler, Hyundai and Mitsubishi. Yes, they do share
several bits and bobs (even the co-developed 2.4 liter, 4 cylinder
mill), but the execution of each project from each automaker follows a
completely different philosophy. Look at it this way: The homely
Compass might be slightly related to the Lancer – but so are wolves and
Chihuahuas – and the Compass is no wolf!
Can you tell that I am
impressed? The Lancers are one of those cars which makes its drivers
look a little better, and that is a hell of a compliment considering
what your average human can look like. This is also a car that caters
equally to men and women. It’s great for a driving orientated person to
take pride in. So, altogether – the new Lancers are nice driving cars
covered in a sexy, masculine shell.
Lookin' good Mitsubishi!
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car
sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out
of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to
enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com
page HERE. Photos by: N.D