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Mitsubishi Lancer faces stiff competition

To properly provide an overall evaluation of the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer, one should really test drive all its options. The Lancer has five different trim variations and three of them are quite diverse.

Although solid in many areas, the DE and ES trims are pretty modest offerings, the type of vehicles that won't create a lot of excitement. Both the GT and SE trims are certainly an upgrade from the two entry selections, featuring a more powerful engine and some nice upgrades in terms of standard features.

However, the real gem among the bunch is the Ralliart, clearly the most exciting choice in the Lancer group. The Ralliart is quite fun to drive, featuring a turbocharged 2.0-liter, inline-4 that cranks out 237 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. It's very quick, going 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds.

Predictably, the Ralliart's gas mileage (18-25 mpg) isn't as good as the other four models and the cost ($28,095) is high for a compact car.

The problem, even for the appealing Ralliart, is the compact sedan category is loaded with some great choices. The competition includes the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Jetta, Hyundai Elantra, and the Chevrolet Cruze.

The Lancer DE and ES models are 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engines that create 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. Their performance is fine for commuter-type driving, but the vehicle is somewhat sluggish on hills. It goes 0-60 mph in 8.8 seconds.

Both the SE and GT upgraded models featured a spunkier engine, a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder that generates 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. These models are clocked going 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds.

The Lancer ride ranks below much of its competition. All models with the exception of the Ralliart seem lacking in agility and don't provide a fun factor. The engine is somewhat noisy and the Lancer doesn't absorb very well on bumpy surfaces.

Both head and leg room are solid for front seat occupants and so is the comfort. However, taller drivers will not like the absence of a telescoping steering wheel. Two adults will be fine in the back seat, but add another person and forget about room and comfort. The trunk room is average for a compact sedan.

The interior features a practical, easy setup. The climate controls are large knobs and within close proximity to the driver. There is an abundance of hard plastic and note that one seemingly needs to slam the doors to have them totally shut, which gets very annoying.

As mentioned previously, there are many good selections in the compact sedan category. Unfortunately for the Lancer, it's a very average vehicle that still needs to improve if it wants to be among the standouts.

2013 Mitsubishi Lancer

  • Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 148 horsepower; 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, 168 horsepower; 2.0-liter, inline-4, 237 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 22-34 mpg
  • Price: $15,995 to $28,095
  • Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; drivetrain 10 years/100,000 miles; corrosion 7 years/100,000; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000
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Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.



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