If it's a compact car you're looking for, the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer will have your head spinning at nine enticing models. The Lancer is a clean and lovely car, even with its fish face. Some see a shark mouth, and say the Lancer is lovely because of it, not despite it. Its good looks give it distinction in its field. Its good engines give it value.
All 2011 Lancers have anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control standard, along with seven airbags, the latest being driver's knee.
The 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer lineup starts with the $14,995 Lancer DE, not quite bare bones because it's got power doors and windows, keyless entry and auto halogen headlamps, but lacks air conditioning, 60/40 folding rear seat, and cruise control. But it's got the same good 2.0-liter engine with variable valve timing making 148 horsepower. Driving gets more civilized with the Lancer ES with air conditioning and better seats, front and rear.
New for 2011 is the Lancer ES Sportback, a smooth-looking 5-door that made its debut on the 2010 Lancer Ralliart. Fuel economy for the Lancer ES is an EPA-estimated 25/32 mpg City/Highway. We found the Lancer ES offers decent steering response and tracks well through corners, with no excessive body lean.
The Lancer GTS climbs the ladder with its 2.4-liter engine, a gem of a powerplant coupled with a sweet 5-speed gearbox or 6-step CVT with paddle shifters (23/30 mpg). We tested the Lancer GTS Sportback version complete with front air dam and rear spoiler, our test car with a 5-speed, looking sleek in Graphite Gray Pearl and beautiful 18-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels. The GTS is a compelling value for its good looks, enjoyable driving characteristics, affordable pricing, and fuel economy, with an EPA-estimated 24/31 mpg City/Highway. If you don't need all-wheel drive or turbocharged acceleration, the GTS is the one, especially in the new Sportback body style with a great cargo area.
The all-wheel-drive Lancer Ralliart moves into high-performance land with an intercooled and turbocharged 2.0-liter engine making 237 horsepower, and showcasing Mitsubishi's racy 6-speed twin-clutch automated manual transmission. Sedan or Sportback, flared fenders, hood scoop, vents like shark gills, optional Recaro seats. The fishface gets a chrome ring, like silver lipstick on a largemouth bass.
The Lancer Evolution, the Evo, pumps out 291 horsepower. Shapely sedan only, with 5-speed GSR model, or with 6-speed twin clutch MS, which adds Bilstein shocks and lighter brake rotors. Have fun at the track, your car is ready.
The 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer DE ($14,995) comes with cloth upholstery, AM/FM/CD/MP3 with four speakers, power doors and windows, halogen headlamps. Air conditioning is optional. (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Lancer ES ($16,395) and ES Sportback ($16,795) come with a 5-speed gearbox or 6-step CVT with paddle shifters ($900). Standard equipment includes premium fabric upholstery, air conditioning, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, power door locks with keyless remote, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear stabilizer bar, six-way adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seatback with folding center armrest, front map lights, floor mats, the auto-up driver-side window, silver interior accents, body-color outside mirror housings and door handles, anti-theft security alarm and pre-wired Bluetooth. ES options include a power sunroof and 710-watt, nine-speaker, Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system. The Sport Aero Package ($800) and Sport Accent ($295) give it an Evo look.
Lancer GTS ($19,295) and GTS Sportback ($19,695) feature a 2.4-liter four-cylinder making 168 horsepower, rear disc brakes replacing the drums in the ES, a 5-speed manual gearbox or optional CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) using Sportronic manual shifting with steering-wheel paddles. A 140-watt 6-speaker sound system is standard, along with sport bucket seats. New for 2011 is a FUSE Handsfree Links system, which ties voice command into all your worldly desires in the car, starting with talking on the phone. The sport-tuned suspension is tied to lovely 18-inch alloy wheels.
Lancer Ralliart ($27,495) and Ralliart Sportback get a 237-hp 2.0-liter intercooled turbocharged engine, while its suspension and brakes are upgraded from the GTS. It uses a six-speed twin-clutch automated manual called the TC-SST, with Normal and Sport modes. Automatic climate control is standard, along with sport bucket seats with unique fabric surfaces, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Also standard: six-speaker audio, aero package with front air dam, lower side air dams and rear spoiler, factory-installed fog lights, P215/45R18 tires on alloy wheels. Options include a Navigation & Technology package with GPS-based navigation system storing mapping data on a 40GB hard disk drive, with 10GB set aside for personally recorded audio files, to be played on the optional 710-watt 9-speaker Rockford-Fosgate audio system with Sirius satellite radio.
Lancer Evolution comes in two models, the GSR ($33,995) with 5-speed gearbox or the MR ($37,195) with 6-speed twin-clutch, plus BBS forged alloy wheels, Bilstein shocks, Eibach springs and big rear spoiler. Evo standard equipment includes automatic climate control, Recaro seats, 140-watt six-speaker audio system, power windows and locks and keyless entry, and Yokohama performance tires on 18-inch alloy wheels. Options include navigation, Bluetooth, 710-watt 9-speaker Rockford-Fosgate sound system, and HID headlamps.
Safety features for all Lancer models include front air bags, side airbags in front, side curtain air bags, a driver's knee air bag, and tire pressure monitor. Anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution is also standard, along with Active Stability Control. Front seatbelts have pretensioners and force limiters to help position users for maximum protection from airbags in crashes. Rear seats incorporate child safety seat anchors and tethers (LATCH). Available all-wheel drive enhances safety in slippery conditions.