By on June 20, 2007

01_08lancergtsr.jpgIn “The Blue-Eyed Salaryman,” American author Niall Murtagh charts his fourteen-year career inside Mitsubishi Japan. When Murtagh gets transferred to Osaka, he concludes that the Tokyo part of the company focuses on large visionary research projects, while Osaka demands practical applications. And there you have it: the dichotomy that accounts for Mitsubishi’s progress in the automotive arena. You have visionary products like the Evo with very little practical purpose, and dull products like the Outlander with very little vision. So where does the new Lancer fit?  

Never mind the subtext, check out those lines! Designing a good-looking compact car ain’t easy nowadays. You’ve got to maximize interior space, accommodate an expanding complement of airbags and facilitate fuel efficiency (with aerodynamics that force sheetmetal shapes down the slippery slope towards suppository chic). Things can go horribly wrong; reference the Honda Civic sedan. Or the previous Lancer, which was as sexy as dental floss. This one the Mitsubishi design team nailed.

04_08lancergtsrpro.jpgThe Lancer’s proportions and details are spot on. The high beltline adds to the impression of size from the outside, yet allows occupants to feel surrounded and safe. The Lancer’s new front fascia copies Audi’s current pig snout and makes it work, flanking the orifice with a set of angry eyes headlights and bisecting the otherwise gaping maw with a suitably wide bumper. Mitsu ripped off the tail lamp design from the Alfa 156– a gorgeous machine that Americans never got the chance to ignore.

The new Lancer is not a stunning design per se– it’s more handsome than drop-dead gorgeous. But it is a stunning development for Mitsubishi. The Lancer is to Mitsubishi what the Altima was to Nissan five years ago: a radical reskin that instantly elevates a plain-Jane model from zero to hero. Unfortunately, the parallel continues inside. 

08_08lancergtsbl.jpgThanks to Mitsu’s PR paparazzi, the Lancer’s cabin looks decidedly avant-garde. The flacks focused on the steering wheel, perfect in both diameter and thickness (though littered with stereo buttons and Bluetooth phone controls). They highlighted the Lancer’s sport bike-inspired gauges. They flagged its slick stereo, neatly integrated into the dash with precise, Teutonic buttonology. 

Off camera, the new Lancer’s interior does the time-warp again. It’s a generic Japanese mishmash fabricated with some of the worst automotive plastics inflicted on U.S. consumers since A Flock of Seagulls first crapped on Top 40 radio, with bulbous switches that feel like they were attached with thumb tacks. The seats are nicely supportive, but why Mitsu decided to support the mouse fur industry by covering the Lancer's chairs and roof with rodent pelts is both an aesthetic and ethical conundrum.

Driving the base model Lancer is an eye-opening experience, especially when you realize that (1) the Evo X will obviously be celestial and (2) THIS is what they started with?

08_08lancergtsr.jpgThe Lancer is just an awful little car to pilot, for sportster and commuter alike. In the pursuit of a compliant ride, Mitsu has fitted the base car with a suspension made out of Twinkies. Potholes send the car bucking in a fit of confusion. And then there’s body roll. Lots and lots of body roll. Quick turns? Out of the question. (Fast corners make you their bitch.) Within minutes of assuming command, my need for speed did recede. I gave up trying to do anything more than get from Point A to Point B in the space of a single day.

Yes, I know: the Lancer’s an economy car. But it could be the only car sold in America that can make an entry level Toyota Corolla or Hyundai Elantra seem like a sports sedan. And the Lancer only achieves 21/29 mpg. How frugal is that? 

05_08lancergtsr.jpgThe Lancer’s all-new 2.0-liter engine is rated at 152 horses (at an unattainable 6000 rpm). I swear a quarter have bolted for greener pastures. A wide open throttle simply kicks the CVT's droning tone up a notch. This isn’t about being a boy-racer. It’s about needing a sign to apologize to drivers while attempting merges.

What really sucks the life out of the Lancer (and sucks in general): its continuously variable transmission. Unless you opt for the top-o-the-line GTS with fake shift points, the CVT is forever locked into penalty mode. It's no fun at all. 

The new Lancer is a research project gone horribly wrong. On paper, it’s a superb vehicle: 150 horsepower, loads of safety features (seven airbags, including the now popular driver's knee airbag), gadget options galore and racy good looks. But it’s all show and no go.

With Mitsubishi’s American operations just climbing out of sea of red ink, it’s too bad the company forgot to benchmark the competitions' driving dynamics. The forthcoming take-no-prisoners Evo version will no doubt sort that out, but after sampling the base Lancer, I highly doubt Mitsubishi’s ability to rescue its American ambitions from the dustbin of history.

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64 Comments on “Mitsubishi Lancer Review...”


  • avatar
    Dayveo

    Unaccceptable mpg for a compact car.

    To me, Mitusbishi seems to be borrowing their styling cues over and over from the 1st Gen BMW 6-series, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Sounds like the dynamics are as far off-class as the Galant’s suspension bits (compared to the Accord). That’s a shame, the car certainly looks like it could cream a Civic.

    Can you get a conventional transmission? Ditch the CVT, get an OZ/Ralliart package and this would be a nice ride.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    It looks like a Mazda 6 with an Audi shnoz to me.

  • avatar
    Jeff in Canada

    So sad to read that the driving experience doesn’t live up to it fantastic styling. Although, I should add, that in my opinion, only the Top of the line Lancer GTS (pictured) looks fantastic, the base model loses that sporty ‘edge’. Really is a shame, this is the nicest looking compact since the Mazda 3 GT, except the driving dynamics of the 3 live up to it’s appearance.
    And I second Dayveo’s comment, 21 mpg out of a 2.0L engine? Without a turbo, thats pathetic mpg for an engine so small!

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    I didn’t like this car either. The engine is indeed quite lame. The styling looks decent in pictures but in person I didn’t care for it; I’ll have some of that Mazda 3 sheet metal, thanks. I didn’t think the handling was that bad, but it certainly isn’t as good as the Mazda. The one thing this car has right is the Fosgate sound system.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Mitsubishi’s time here is coming to an end. What are they selling?

  • avatar

    I actually liked the previous model’s design. It was fairly unique to what exists on the road today. This design is more covertly bland. IMO.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Isn’t the premise of CVT transmissions put into compact cars supposed to improve performance and economy? I know the Caliber is also slow and doesn’t get good mileage. Seems that auto mfgrs who have very little engineering prowess adopt technologies that are still beyond their capabilities.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    That must be the problem with my Cadillac, damn twinky suspensions.

  • avatar
    ebix

    I diagree with many of the conclusions made in this review. Here are the facts (taken from caranddriver.com): Lancer: 0-60mph: 7.8s 5-60mph: 8.3s 1/4mile: 16.3s@87mph Hyundai Elantra: 0-60: 7.9s 5-60: 8.6s 1/4 mile: 16.3@86mph Corolla: 0-60mph: 7.9s 5-60mph: 8.7s 1/4 mile: 16.5@85mph Based on the math I took, the Lancer is equal or quicker than both of the cars you mention in performance measures. It also happens to be just about equal to the Civic in the same measures, much better than the Sentra, and not too far behind a 2.3L Mazda3. Clearly, the performance is average or better for this class. In terms of handling, lets look at some more numbers: Skidpad: Lancer: .84g Sentra: .79g Civic: .81g Elantra: .78g Corolla: .76g Mazda 3s: .85g The Lancer loos like it's near top-of-class to me. I’m not a fanboy, and know the Lancer may not be best-in-class in every category…but honestly, it is nowhere near as bad of a vehicle compared to others in the class as you’d seemingly like it to be.

  • avatar
    jrlombard

    Cover the very front and very rear of the car’s side profile shot. Anyone else see Acura TSX in the remaining middle? That’s not necessarily a bad thing…

    It seems that Mitsubishi has carved out a niche for themselves as the Asian Ford. They have the ability to churn out standard setting cars (ref: Evo), but not the drive or motivation. They NEEDED this to be the next big thing.

    Oh well, we’ll talk about “that company that used to make this really fast car called the Evo” in a few years– very much in past tense.

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    Good start for a review but bombarded at the last minute for a car that can out perform any other cars in the market today.

    I drive a 5 speed 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer ES bought it on the first day it came out. I always love Mitsubishi’s since I was a kid. I remembered the one of the best engine ever made was the Saturn engine of a 1980′s Mitsu Lancer. The car just one of the best design ever made by Mitsu. Aerodynamics,heavy duty transmission,very light engine, very stiff shocks and strutts with a little head banging once in awhile. Very good on turns doing 35(just wondering why you said it sucks on turns)

    The Gears Does not end meaning that if you are on 3nd gear it will keep on going to 65 mph an hour and it complaint if you shift the gear meaning it asking for more speed on that gear and the same with other gears. Pushed the car up to 125 mph no sound no complain. just smooth ride passing other econobox and some wanna be fast cars out there.

    The Car full stop right away on 65 mph. try doing that with a Honda, Nissan and Toyota. The sound system is nothing compared to other after market stereo accept if you have a Nitrous Bass Booster.

    GTS is too heavy for the 2.0 liter engine with those heavy breaks and body kit and the unnecessary spoiler for a car that does not need it. the car will be howling for a horsepower but that’s why I chose the ES Lancer with lesser weight. Don’t be fool with CVT because it doesn’t do anything just delay the belt reaction to speed.
    Whatever car you have, CVT is worthless. only good to those people who drives the boring Auto with a feeling of driving a stick shift.

    I am honest what I wrote here if
    You believe that Mitsubishi is a Crap Car don’t buy it. Buy a BMW or Acura but for me the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer is changing the face of the Econobox and I happy with it and for those People with little budget and wants a car that doesn’t look like any other cars out there.

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer ES is to be look at

  • avatar

    Based on the description of ride and handling, Justin clearly did not drive the GTS. The ride in the GTS is very firm. The steering and handling still aren’t as good as the old Lancer’s; I blame the extra curb weight.

    I do agree with Justin that the engine feels weak–I don’t care what times it’s capable of if you’re willing to torture the drivetrain. I’ll go further and say it’s way too buzzy. I’d still probably be okay with it in the regular trims, but in the GTS it’s inadequate.

    The Ralliart and Evo will fix this, of course.

    No need to refer you guys to my pricing anymore…

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    A Review of true person who driveS the Lancer for 2 months.

    A full tank can reach 400 miles on a Lancer.

    Stiffer suspension so when the shocks get older it doesn’t feel like the car is bouncing.

    steering is sensitive,making a little move it will steer the car.

    Adjustable driver’s seat so when your short you can see the entire road in front of you even a flying piece of rubber from a blow out tire.

    The car is very sexy.

    Gears are awesome.

    152 Horsepower makes the car wants to control me.

    Awesome Car stereo 650 watts (who else has it)

    and Best thing ever is that It is A Tuners Dream Car. who said Mitsubishi Company with go down the drain after making airplanes during WW2.

    Drive the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer without reading reading the critics writing.

    Judge it by yourself and feel it. It is really different from any other cars out there

  • avatar
    passive

    Deleted due to content.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    I think ebix needs to understand a few things. First, there really isn't any excuse for crummy gas mileage in an econocar unless you can offer plenty of othetr goods. Obviously, Mitsu is playing to the sporty crowd for whom gas mileage don't mean much. But if you can get a well-handling, well-sorted Mazda 3 (or even Ford Focus if you really want to go bargain) for low to mid teens, of what use is the Lancer? A marginally quicker 0-60 time than a Hyundai? Lower skidpad than the 3? Crummier interior than most everyone else? Mitsubishi had a chance to take this car and make it into a better Mazda 3, to make it really stand out and leverage Mitsu's Evo sport credibility, but if we are to believe the reviews, the Lancer is less refined, doesn't handle as well and gets pathetic gas mileage for a 2.0l econobox. Starts to make sense why Mitsubishi has such a tough time getting sales.

  • avatar
    passive

    Oh, an interesting note from that same caranddriver comparo. The Altima 2.5S can be had for only about $500 more than the Lancer GTS, and seems to be a superior vehicle in every respect (skidpad is only .82g though). It’s faster, quieter, more efficient (24/31), more spacious, nicer looking (though the Lancer is very nice), and has a much better interior. It also an example of a CVT done right.
    Of course, that’s only one of many decent options on that price range.

  • avatar
    ebix

    OK, sure the handling numbers are for the GTS. If you can find published numbers for the other models, feel free to add them, but I think its probably difficult to find performance numbers for base-models of economy cars…its not usually the most researched topic, probably. The other numbers are not for base models of the other vehicles either, so the comparison is still valid. And, if he is reviewing the base-model of an economy car anyway, I argue that what is “moot” is his complaining about the handling to begin with, as this is the case for ANY base-model economy car. Why would I post “speed numbers”? Because they are the facts. The author makes it seem like the Lancer will take 14 seconds to get to 60mph. The comparison to other vehicles (Elantra,Corolla) given in the review is inaccurate – Thats why. The actual “speed numbers” for the Lancer are better or equal to the competitors, thats all I’m trying to say. You may think that your 2000 neon “feels” fast…and you may think a Lancer “feels” slow, but feelings are not fact.  

  • avatar
    adamdrew

    Remember, that the Lancer is a ’08, which means that its EPA fuel economy numbers were measured with the new requirements. The new Scions also have surprisingly low EPA ratings due to the new testing scheme. Expect similar drops in other vehicles as they’re retested.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    It should be noted that the fuel economy ratings for this car are based on the revised standards the EPA implemented for 2008 vehicles. When the old standards are used, it gets a slightly better 25/31 city/highway fuel economy rating.

    When you use this apples-to-apples comparison, you get:
    Mazda3 (2.0, automatic) 24/32
    Nissan Sentra (2.0 CVT) 25/33
    Toyota Corolla (1.8 auto) 26/35
    Honda Civic (1.8 auto) 25/36
    Ford Focus (2.0 auto) 23/31
    Chevrolet Cobalt (2.2 auto) 21/29

    When you compare it in these terms, you’ll see the the ‘08 Lancer while certainly isn’t a fuel sipper like the Civic or Corolla, it would be a stretch to call it ‘unacceptable’ when compared to it’s peers in the market.

    source: http://www.fueleconomy.gov

  • avatar
    jthorner

    I don’t understand the fascination automakers have with CVT transmissions. Generally they get worse fuel economy than a good traditional automatic and they make for a truely strange driving experience. Most reports put the fuel economy penalty down to the need to expend energy constantly to run the hydraulic pumps which manage the variable internal pulleys. When Ford came out with the Five Hundred it offered both conventional and CVT automatic options, and the conventional transmission turned in better fuel economy results. Ford has since killed the CVT option, but why did they do it in the first place?

    Mitsubishi is a dead brand walking. They don’t add anything to the marketplace that isn’t already done as well or better by one of the more successful companies. Even their one-time hand-me-down partner Hyundai has since moved beyond them in the marketplace.

    Isuzu has retreated into commercial vehicles and diesel engine manufacturing after travelling a similar road to the one Mitsubishi is on today. Where will Mitsubishi retreat to?

    P.S. I could care less about 0-60 and 1/4 mile times for econoboxes. Anything sub 10 seconds is plenty fast enough for a daily driver 0-60 times. Driving dynamics, road noise, comfort level and such are all far more important than tenths of a second in drag race tests.

  • avatar
    ebix

    About fuel economy… Yeah, the Lancer is definitely NOT class leading in that area, no arguments here. BUT…What would be good information for the author to share, would be that this is an 08MY vehicle.New EPA fuel economy standards went into effect for 08MY vehicles, so anybody comparing the Lancer to any other vehicle at his point is giving a very biased and inaccurate picture. Based on the OLD standards (any 2007 or earlier car), the Lancer would be rated at 25/31. Certainly not Civic territory, but better. (The CVT, by the way is 22/29. It is an increase over a traditional manual transmission. And, since the author talks about driving the CVT I think it is also misleading to quote the manual transmisson numbers of 21/29 in the review.)

  • avatar

    Gentlemen,

    This is getting out of control. I expect ALL of you to engage in civilized debate without flaming the site, its authors or fellow commentators.

    I am tired of editing comments on this thread to remove personal attacks. (Check your emails.) Any further flaming will result in a permanent ban.

  • avatar
    carguy

    While handling and looks may be subjective, its the price and fuel economy that render the Lancer a fringe player in the compact market. The reason most folks buy compacts is for price and fuel economy (OK and maybe because they like smaller cars) and the Lancer delivers neither. As someone mentioned earlier, the better equipped Lancers compete with cars like the Altima and Fusion which provide more room and better fuel economy at the same price point. Given the price, average performance and fuel economy, why would you buy a Lancer? Whose customers are they trying to convert – Civic? Mazda 3?

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    All 2008 EPA numbers are so far still under the old system. If you go to the EPA’s website they will estimate the mileage under the new system, but there are no official numbers yet.

    Great review, Justin. I agree — the car looks great, but the performance leaves much to be desired as far as the base model is concerned. Can’t wait to see how dead sexy the EVO X will be.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    The Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion do not get better numbers (when compared to the old EPA test method)

    Altima 2.5 (CVT) 23/31
    Fusion 2.3 (Auto) 20/29

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Megan, they fueleconomy.gov website does list vehicles under the new test method. The list is incomplete as they have only tested trucks and SUV’s so far, but they have started testing passenger vehicles, and the 08 Lancer is one of the few vehicles to have been tested under the new standard.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    It’s more than handling and looks that make the Lancer a fringe player. It’s the weak dealer network, the lack of consistent branding, the insufficient funds to match Toyota/Honda’ 5 year development cycles, etc.

    Americans really don’t know what Mitsubishi stands for. The Evo competes with the STI, the Outlander with the RAV-4, the Montero (do they still sell that?) with the Landcrusher, and the Eclipse is a heavy Mustang clone, I suppose.

    Mitsubishi is all over the place, and the products that should be selling — Lancer and Gallant — get lost in the shuffle. They aren’t viewed as worthy competitors to the Accord and Civic, so they are discounted and ignored.

    I recognize that the recent introductions of the Outlander and Lancer mark a bit of a comeback for Mitsubishi, but long term, I can’t see them surviving.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    As I’m on the left coast, I’m just getting online now, but I want to address a few points:

    We can argue about the EPA rating system all day (and indeed, there are entire editorials on this site written about it). But what matters most is that the mileage for this car definitely is not as good as the class leaders. For heaven’s sake, even the turbocharged 200hp Audi A3 is rated at 22/29 under the new 2008 system. Yes, it takes premium, but unencumbered by a turbocharger surely Mitsubishi can do better than 22/29.

    I spent time in the Lancer ES CVT because it’s going to be their volume seller, and the one most likely encountered on the roads.

    Looking at Car and Driver’s statistics is dubious. They test the same cars many times on track surfaces with ideal weather to wring out those numbers. For a contrast, check out any reviews from Australia’s WHEELS magazine (ideally testing a car we have on sale in the U.S.). Since they do a single shot street start 0-60, without revving the engine to infinity before dropping the clutch, their 0-60 numbers of many cars are sobering.

    But in any case, 0-60 and 5-60 times only tell a fraction of the story. How is 20-40? or 30-60? How is acceleration uphill? How confused does the automatic transmission get?

    These questions are a big part of why we read reviews. Most people would agree that publishing a spreadsheet instead of a car review is insufficient. And as the article says, on paper the Lancer is a compelling car.

    Finally, I should address the notion that yet again, a car is being reviewed on “sports car” standards. This complaint is not endemic to TTAC by any means. The difference is that at TTAC we actually are evaluating cars against their intended purpose (see Farago’s Cadillac DTS review). This is supposed to be a slightly sporty economy car. It’s not particularly economical, and it’s not even slightly sporty to drive. The majority of the interior, where presumably a commuter in stop-and-go would be spending time, is appalling compared to any other car in the class (Kia Spectra included).

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    Skid pad numbers do not = handling. Period. As far as the 0-60 and such, I drove it and it felt significantly weaker than a Corolla. Feeling doesn’t equal fact, but feeling is what matters unless you’re at a drag strip or a race track, and even then…

    Also, you can’t even begin to make “performance stat” comparisons unless the cars were tested in the exact same conditions, which when you pick and choose from different articles, they are not.

    Personally, I feel that the Lancer doesn’t do anything particularly right (except for the sound system). It doesn’t do anything terribly wrong either, but that isn’t good enough.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    I had high hopes for this car in “lesser form,” although sporting variants will most likely rock harder. Question: how closely related is this engine to the Compass/Patriot/Caliber? Reviews of these models all note that the engine is a dud, especially with the mind-numbing CVT.

    P.S. I wish we didn’t have to even talk about this type of transmission. Yech!

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    For heaven’s sake, even the turbocharged 200hp Audi A3 is rated at 22/29 under the new 2008 system. Yes, it takes premium, but unencumbered by a turbocharger surely Mitsubishi can do better than 22/29.

    Amen to that. And for just a few dollars more a tank at fill-up, you get a lot more bang for your buck in terms of handling and engine performance. There is much more to performance than straight 0-60, and the Lancer seems to fail on all accounts.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I just have one question is this Mitsubishi going to be the same worthless junk in 10 years like all the past ones you don’t see on the road because they just fell apart. When was the last time anyone here saw a Mitsubishi from the late 80′s that didn’t look like it was about to explode at any second?

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Interesting in that this review is the opposite of every other journal review I’ve read on the new lancer. This may be due to testing a base model instead of the GTS. According to what I’ve read the base lancer is has a stiffer frame than an Evo IX.

    Mitsubishi has done a good job on the new lancer from what I’ve seen. I believe they will be adding a 2.4l above the GTS (hopefully with a manual), a Raliart with a turbo 4 and AWD and then of course the Evo come early 2008.

    I also thing the Outlander is a good design and the Eclipse is adequate. The Galant is in need of a design makeover like the lancer. I still have hopes for a Lancer hatch like the Sportback concept from Frankfurt 2005.

    Instead of leaving the US I think in 5 years you will see a resurgence of Mitsubishi in the US.

  • avatar
    quiksilver180

    Having tried a Lancer, it weighed a lot (over 3000 lbs), didn’t handle as smoothly, the CVT was gutless, and poor gas milage for a car it’s size.

    High point of the car: the optional Rockford Fosgate sound system.

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    As I wrote before the Lancer is a great econobox and doesn't look like any econobox. Never judge a product by the way it looks Never judge a products by it's label. American consumer I remembered bad mouth the Hyndai cars on it's early years. Now everyone is admiring the Hyundai than the Mitsubishi the American consumer indeed

  • avatar
    Seth

    Only car company that is grossly underestimated is Mitsu even after being in business for several decades.

    If anyone is turned off by this review or any other review of lancer, I strongly suggest they check em out in person. That goes for Outlander also (even more so). Truly great products that dont get their due respect.

  • avatar
    danms6

    I can’t pass any judgment on the car other than what I have read in reviews. However, I think it’s safe to assume that Mitsubishi wanted people to judge the car by it’s looks. I used to have so much fun in my old DSM, but Mitsu seems to reserve all the goodies for the Evo while it euthanizes the rest of the lineup.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I don’t understand the fascination automakers have with CVT transmissions.

    I thought they were supposed to improve mileage by always keeping the engine in a ‘sweet spot’? Anyway, I agree with your assessment…for the most part all it seems to provide is an odd driving experience.

    I don’t know why Mitsubishi doesn’t improve the quality of their interiors. I looked at them when they first came to Canada, and they were price similarly to the their competitors from Toyota and Honda, even a little higher, and they weren’t even competitive with the cheapest Hyundai in terms of quality.

    From what I see on the roads, the Eclipse saves their bacon. I like the looks of the new one, but it is built for very, very compact people.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Mitsubishi has always been frustrating to me.

    I like much of their body work. Yes, the use a lot of BMW cues, but so what. They mostly make good looking cars. The problem is that I never trusted their quality. The cars don’t seem to last or hold together long, and they certainly don’t seem to hold thier values (I suspect evo’s do better though).

    I really would like to see them improve because the offerings are otherwise attractive.

    Lastly, I balk at using C&D numbers. I suppose they are mostly good, but I just can’t quite trust them that much.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    ebix, you did a decent enough job defending the fuel economy and acceleration of this Lancer – it really isn’t that bad in those categories – but you can’t defend its handling with skid pad numbers! Skid pad numbers are primarily a function of tire grip. They reveal almost nothing about the vehicle’s handling.

    Landcrusher, why don’t you trust C&D? It’s my favorite magazine, so I had to ask! In their short preview test, they drove the GTS model (with a 5-speed) and had no specific complaints. The comparison tests usually reveal a lot more though.

    From the pictures I’ve seen, I do like this exterior better than the previous one. But I haven’t driven any Lancers so I can’t say much more.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    While many people have criticized Mitsubishi’s styling over the years, I personally have admired their designs for at least being different from the run-of-the-mill jelly beans we see all around us every day. Yes, Mitsu’s vehicles usually could have used a bit of help in the refinment area over the years. But I’ve generally found them to be fun and interesting.

    I won’t argue with the conclusions of this review for the base Lancer. Clearly, from the evidence provided by other journals, the GTS is an improvement when it comes to driving dynamics.

    I’m sure the Evo will be great – but a bit over the top for me. I’d be interested in a version of the GTS with the new 172hp four-banger or, even better, a Ralliart version (or equivalent) with 200-220hp. But I hope the Ralliart will look more like the GTS than the Evo.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    And, if he is reviewing the base-model of an economy car anyway, I argue that what is “moot” is his complaining about the handling to begin with, as this is the case for ANY base-model economy car.

    Not necessarily true. I believe that a Mazda3i (the base model) handles as well as the Mazda3s. The differences between these two are the available options and the engine; the Mazda3s comes with the larger 2.3L, I4.

    I have not driven a new Lancer, but the description in the review sounds like the new one is on a par with the ‘03 model year Lancer that I test drove a few years ago, thoroughly unimpressive with a cheap feel to it. Have they really made so little advancement?

    As far as the CVT goes, if a car’s fuel economy is not improved by a CVT it’s probably because it wasn’t tuned to maximize fuel economy. There are other considerations. I had a Saturn Vue with a manual transmission (what a mistake that was) when they first came out. The car was equipped with a shift light that indicated when the computer thought I should shift up to maximize fuel economy. If I had followed the computer’s suggestions, I would have been in 5th gear at 30 mph, which really isn’t practical. When deciding what rpm is “best”, the engineers must take into consideration the power output of the engine, the stress on the internal components (to high or to low rpm), and the sound of the engine in addition to fuel economy.

  • avatar
    AKM

    The car actually has quite a few design cues from the Acura TL. It could be worse. Thanks for the review, Justin, I was curious (and hesitant) about that car.

    Now I know I won’t get anywhere near it!

  • avatar
    wsn

    The exterior styling is about as good as you get in this class. I do see far more 2008 Lancers than the old gen Lancer(been 4~5 years?) on the streets. As a Civic owner, I seriously consider buying the new Lancer for my next car, that is, if they don’t rank a the bottom of CR study.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    RPN,

    I read C&D occasionally, and I liked the TV show when I could get it (is it still on?). Still, they rarely say what I think really needs to be said about the cars and the companies that make them. We all know how well these cars are made after five years, and that is the only REAL way to judge quality. I have never seen them stick it to a manufacturer in a review about how their older models just didn’t make it.

    Imagine when the new Bungobrothers Special gets reviewed and they point out that even though the new car is mostly new, the last three new models all faired poorly in long term quality and resale value. Has that EVER happened? Even to the worst offenders? It can’t just be optimism on their part.

    Maybe it’s the cover to cover ad’s that make me suspicious? I dunno, I enjoy it, but I fall short of “trusting” it. Sad state of journalism and all.

  • avatar

    Car and Driver run "special advertising sections" that use their editorial style to "review" vehicles. Car and Driver was paid by Ford to perform "consumer research." Car and Driver accepts press cars and junkets without specific acknowledgment. Car and Driver accepts vehicles from manufacturers for a long-term fleet. Car and Driver has a documented history of modifying reviews to mollify advertisers. You may not agree with our writers' opinions on a particular vehicle, but TTAC has higher ethical standards than Car and Driver. Period.

  • avatar
    danms6

    If C&D were to do a Camaro vs. Mustang shootout, a Honda would win.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Danms6: “If C&D were to do a Camaro vs. Mustang shootout, a Honda would win.”

    Not true! The Honda would come in a close second to BMW.

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    Funny

    You guys think that a BMW is fast. Another misconception for a popular car.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Okay, this is kinda getting to my goat here.

    Cars like the Saturn Ion, Ford Taurus, Chevy Cavalier, and Dodge Nitro ARE embarassments to their manufacturers. The quality of the materials are deplorable, the drivertrains are mostly second rate, and the styling runs the gamut from bland pudding to outright wonky.

    The same can be said for the Toyota Echo, Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Sentra (prior gen), Subaru Baja, Suzuki Aerio, and Honda Ridgeline. There are several designs and powertrains that simply represent bad values in the marketplace. You can argue all you want about the subjectivity of it all. But the truth is sometimes a lot better than damning a bad vehicle with faint praise.

    Case in point… if a manufacturer reads that their car’s styling is ‘OK’ or ‘unique’, I may stick with the design for a longer priod of time instead of developing a better one. The current Ford Focus is a pretty good example of a car that was damned with faint praise upon it’s initial redesign and is now desperately in need of radical changes.

    However vehicles such as the Ford Five Hundred, Saturn Ion, Subaru Tribeca, and Toyota Corolla (the one that’s now being delayed) were lambasted for their inadequacies fairly early on. As an aside, the one thing I can thank Car & Driver for is telling the truth about how bad the Saturn Ion was during it’s initial release. That’s one good point I can give to the C&D folks. But their slippery slope of objectivity has been going down gradually since the mid-1990′s.

    In the car business, it’s more important AND more difficult to tell the truth about a given vehicle because of all the economic ties that bind. I consider TTAC to be largely the equivalent of Top Gear, but without all the snob ridden pretension of that monolith.

    All I can say is keep reading. Whether you’re pro or con (or unsurprisingly apathetic to the Lancer like yours truly), it’s good to have you here.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    “Steven Lang:
    June 21st, 2007 at 11:10 am

    In the car business, it’s more important AND more difficult to tell the truth about a given vehicle because of all the economic ties that bind.”

    Steven… this is not true only in the car business. It’s everywhere. Mainstream media finds it more and more difficult fulfill its role in a democracy with each passing day because almost all of the major media outlets have been gobbled up by Big Business. Whenever you can’t figure out why something is the case on virtually any subject… just follow the money. It’s always all about the money.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    I actually do a lot of the repairs on my own cars because I enjoy it, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who frequents this site and does more than just read magazine articles. I will bow to a professional mechanic if it’s a repair that I haven’t performed myself before and time is an issue.

    edit: It looks like the post I was responding to got axed.

    On the C&D issue-and this applies to Motor Trend and I’m sure the other car rags out there-it’s obvious to me that every new car that they write about in a particular issue is great. Even while noting deficiencies, they end up at what a great car it is. They do have grades of greatness, but I can’t remember the last time I read about how horrible a car was in Motor Trend or C&D. And, while I think that C&D provides slightly better technical data than MT, there reviews seem to be even more gushing.

  • avatar
    maxrent

    I think the Civic Sedan is one of the best looking new cars out now. Although I would rather have the euro-hatchback.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I don’t expect C&D to talk about reliability. They tell me what cars are enjoyable to drive, while CR and others tell me who is reliable.

    Lumbergh21, read the “$15,000 Compacts Compared” in C&D (May 2006). Of the 7 cars tested, the descriptions suggest that only the Fit and Versa are worth buying. As with all their comparisons, they have to justify the placing order so you get good details on why the ones on the bottom landed there. I’m sure the writers at C&D are influenced by external forces to some degree, but where else can I find good North American car reviews from people that dislike automatic transmissions and are willing to point out a few faults in each vehicle? TTAC and C&D provide the only reviews I bother reading anymore.

    P.S. I also like the looks of the Civic sedan!

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    rpn453:

    Point taken. I don’t subscribe to C&D; so, I just occasionally browse the website. Looks like I only remembered the good reviews, or maybe the cars I’ve read about just weren’t bad enough to get a horrible review. I just checked out their comments on the Dodge Avenger, bad, bad, and worse.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Replying to AKILEZ:
    June 21st, 2007 at 11:03 am

    Funny

    You guys think that a BMW is fast. Another misconception for a popular car.

    No one said BMW is fast. But at Car and Driver, a BMW 330 doesn’t even need to move (it broke down during test) to beat a super fast Lexus IS350 in C&D scoring.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    This thing could do 0-60 in 5 seconds and you’d still be asleep by the time it got there. CVT should never ever even be an option on a car that has any sort of sporting pretense.

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    Seems like this car was designed for people who choose cars based on ‘research’ – load it with ‘features’ that look good on paper, but it’s a rotten car to actually drive.

    Sort of the opposite of the BMW 3 series – an expensive car with a surprisingly low HP base engine and even floormats are optional – yet it’s a great driver ‘in the flesh’

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Here is my question. At $19k sticker, what does this car offer? If you want sporting pretense, can’t I get a sentra SE-R for the same price and more than 20 extra horses? From the review before this one, it seems as though the sentra, civic, or mazda 3 is a much better buy.

  • avatar
    exnilo

    Ok read the article thought it was off. So went and drove a gts today. Plastic on the dash is bad… fit on the dash top in particular. Drove a 5 speed version and man… ride is nice… handles actually well but the motor is well… laaaaaaame. Really needs about 30hp more to be interesting. So thought u were nuts… you end up being mostly right. Who knew :P

  • avatar
    matt

    whichever one of you said the cvt in the altima is done right, hasn’t driven one. i’ve been driving one for the past few days, and its horrible. and instead of keeping it in an ‘accelerative’ or ‘economic’ sweet spot, it just says in ‘one’ spot. and if you do want it to change down, then you have to switch to manual mode or let off the gas, which makes it shift quite jerkily.

    and to who had the vue with the shift light, i had a light like that in my 01 sl1. i found that the light doesn’t come on until redline if you’re flooring it.

  • avatar
    dsf3g

    All-right, now a word from a guy who just bought one of these a week and a half ago.

    Yeah, that’d be me. And, while I obviously have something at stake here, let me just say that I tested four different cars and chose the Lancer because I liked what it offered for the price. And I’m still glad I did.

    When deciding on a car to buy to replace my aging and ailing Mazda Millenia, I knew I wanted something more fuel efficient than the Millenia, but that also offered reasonable interior space and a comfortable, relatively quiet ride. To that end I tested the Honda Civic, the Toyota Camry and the Lancer (and tested a Prius, too, though I hadn’t intended on doing so, originally). I loved the Honda, but it was just too small for a family (wife and two kids). The base Camry was nice and all, and had a very stylish interior. But the interior looks significantly cheaper up close, and the base model Camry offers very little in the way of amenities for about $20k.

    The Lancer, meanwhile, gave me a 650watt, 9 speaker stereo, a sunroof, keyless entry, alarm, and HD based Navigation for just under 21k. The car is quiet at cruising speed (though the engine is noisy on hard acceleration), returns 34 mpg all day long on the highway (based on my experience following the readout on the onboard computer) and gets you better than 22 mpg in town (today I saw 24 mpg on my commute). The stereo sounds lovely and the HD Nav has 6 gigs set aside for your own music. I’ve dropped 60 albums into this thing so far, and let me tell you it’s really nice to have them all at your fingertips. I can definitely see leaving my iPod in my pocket most of the time when I’m in the Lancer.

    As far as I’m concerned, if I’m going to be in a car for long periods of time, the audio system is the single most important interior feature, and the Lancer with Snu & Sound + Nav definitely delivers. I’ve got no complaints about the rest of the interior. It’s not as space-aged as the Civic, nor as trendy as the Camry (not enough fake aluminum, I guess) but it’s reasonably simple, effective and pleasant.

    You’ll notice I’ve said nothing of the handling or acceleration. That’s because I didn’t buy this car for handling or acceleration. I’ve got a heavily modified MR2 turbo that I take to Summit Point for that purpose. I bought the Lancer because I wanted a nice looking family sedan (and the lancer is very fetching) that I would deliver a comfortable, and enjoyable commute. The Lancer fits the bill, and the 5 year 60k mile bumper to bumper warranty puts me at ease (as does knowing that the upcoming Evolution is going to use basically this same engine to make 300 hp or so… can you say “over-engineered?”).

    I purposefully bought the ES model Lancer because I didn’t want anything with sporting pretensions. The side-skirts and boy-racer wing of the GTS were turn offs, especially since I knew that in a few months Mitsubishi is going to be releasing an insane Evolution that’s going to eat BMW M3s for breakfast every day.

    So all in all, I’m pleased with my new car. And as long as Mitsubishi doesn’t go out of business (and they’re doing waaaay better than Ford or GM… actually seeing double-digit growth thanks to the new models) I think I’ll continue to be pleased with my decision.

  • avatar
    Hawkeye

    I’m going to add my two cents as a current owner of a 2008 Lancer GTS.

    I purchased my GTS two months ago. I opted for the 5 speed manual transmission, the Sun and Sound and Navigation and Tech packages. After 6,000 miles I am more than pleased with this vehicle. Initially purchased at 67 miles, my fuel economy was about 31 city and 28 highway. Now that the engine is broke in, I now see 30 city and 35 highway. Pretty damn good for the power this car has. The handling is tight and responsive – better than previous Lancers and most any other $20,000 vehicle I’ve ever driven. Has anyone mentioned that it came in .2 seconds behind an STI at GymkhanaUSA this year? Yeah, it out handled the Evo IX. Horsepower ratings are incredibly off. This “152 hp” engine plants 143 of that to the wheels? No. That crankshaft 152 hp is closer to 167. Not to mention that the 5 speed can hit the 6500 RPM redline. I understand that the CVT can’t, but that’s not my worry. I didn’t buy the CVT. The incredibly broad torque band also helps to keep the car at peak power throughout the throttle.

    I love the interior, with the exception of the seat fabrics. I’ll agree with this review on that part. They work better as lint strips, picking up every piece of debris that it comes in contact with. The dash and control systems are ergonomically sound and very pleasing to both the eye and touch. Automatic climate control? Not going to find it on a competing vehicle. Bluetooth? RFID keyless key system? Or how about the 30 Gb HDD Navigation system that not only outperforms nav systems in vehicles twice the price but is also a built-in 6 Gb iPod? These are things that you just don’t find in a twenty thousand dollar compact sedan. Don’t get me wrong – I could sit here and nitpick, but even in all my nitpicking the pros of this vehicle definitely outweigh the cons. It could stand to lose some weight or have a little more power, and with the 18″ wheels, road noise is a good bit higher than I’m used to. But these are the only things about the vehicle that I’m not 100% pleased with.

    Oh, and as a final note – everyone’s comparing the new Lancer’s aesthetics to other vehicles on the market. That’s because Mitsu used the other vehicles to base the design on. If you look closely at a number of parts, you’ll see BMW, Audi, Alfa Romeo, Acura and even a little SAAB. I don’t mind this myself. The car looks just as awesome as it is fun to drive.

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    Buying a Mitsu Lancer check this web site
    About the new 2008 Lancer.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb4zdcD0G-Y


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