Heels on Wheels - 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Review
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE LANCER VEHICLE
For those that want sportier results in a compact sedan, the Mitsubishi Lancer’s more athletic design and spirited 4-cylinder engines will scratch that itch – lots of surprises here, too, with a revised navigation system and quiet cabin results at high speeds. There is also an available Sportback (hatchback) and performance-oriented Evolution versions.
I drove a 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer sedan with the 168-horsepower 2.4-liter Dual Overhead Cam four-cylinder engine with the automatic Continuously Variable Transmission and steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters. Available in four trims – ES, SE, GT and Ralliart – my GT trim came with the following standard equipment: leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; a 6.1-inch audio touchscreen; cloth upholstery; Bluetooth; six-speaker audio system; FUSE hands-free connectivity; rear camera; fog lights; rear wing spoiler; eighteen-inch alloy wheels. Total vehicle price as described comes to $21,445.
For 2014, all trims (omitting the base ES) receive a standard touchscreen audio display with a rearview camera. Also, the navigation system is revised along with some interior appointments. Main competitors range from the redesigned Toyota Corolla, the more athletic Mazda3 and Subaru Impreza.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: My GT trim came with a $3,330 optional Touring Package that included a sunroof, leather upholstery, an upgraded nine-speaker Rocksford Fosgate audio system, HID headlights, heated front seats; and a $1,850 navigation system with a larger seven-inch screen featuring 3-D mapping. Overall the Lancer’s interior makes good use of sub-par material with the Touring Packing upping the ambiance. The rear does provide ample space for an easy-to-attach child seat with excellent head clearance for the loader and plenty of front passenger room. Although the navigation has been revised, Mitsubishi graphics still lag behind what is found on Toyota’s and Kia’s infotainment systems.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The vehicle has a strong safety reputation, and the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Lancer and overall 4-Star rating, earning 4-Star marks in every crash-test category. Standards in this department include an advanced airbag system, LATCH system for child seats, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and active stability control.
Cost Issues: The base Lancer ES starts at $17,195, with the aggressively built Ralliart (turbocharged engine, Active Center Differential for tough terrain, and a six-speed twin-clutch Sportronic transmission) at $28,395. With options on my test drive Lancer GT, the total price grew to a competitive $26,595.
Activity & Performance Ability: The Lancer continues to get buyers from A to B, cheap, fast and stylish – enough of a selling point for active drivers who are looking for a sedan that can commute to the mountains (with optional all-wheel drive) as well as it does to the city. The 2.4-liter is a vibrant engine with the chassis issuing a strong sense of security at high speeds and pretty soundless at high speeds. Fuel economy suffers, however.
The Green Concern: My 2.4-liter four-cylinder has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 23 miles-per-gallon city and 30 highway for a combined 26. A smaller 148-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder gets 26-city and 34-highway, while the Raillart’s 237-horsepower turbocharged 2-liter gets 18-city and 25-highway.The revised Toyota Corolla during a recent week-long test drive netted me 33.8 on average.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
While fuel economy is a downfall compared to a few competitors, buyers who want a little pizzazz in their daily commute should turn to the value-oriented 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer. Dressed up in options, this compact sedan has the potential to shine as brightly as the all-new Toyota Corolla or a Kia/Hyundai counterpart.
©2013 Katrina Ramser