2017 Mitsubishi Lancer AWD
In the car business, just as in life, respect is given when it’s earned. Consider the current Honda Civic: Ostensibly designed as an appliance to provide inexpensive and efficient transportation, it also delivers an engaging driving experience and holistic design that together transcend its humble mission statement. We respect that. The 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer compact sedan, however, is a more conflicted proposition.
Updated for the 2016 model year with a revised front fascia, LED running lights, and an uptick in standard infotainment and connectivity options, the 2017 Lancer comes in four levels of trim, starting with the price-leading 2.0 ES (front-drive only with a standard five-speed manual; a CVT automatic adds $1000) and moving through the 2.4 ES AWC and the 2.4 SE AWC to the top-tier 2.4 SEL AWC. Powertrain specifics are pretty much called out in Mitsubishi’s naming scheme, but we’ll decipher anyway: All three of the latter trims employ a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and CVT coupled with Mitsu’s AWC (All Wheel Control) four-wheel-drive system. For this test, Mitsubishi provided us with a top-tier Lancer 2.4 SEL AWC.
One benefit of starting with such a vehicle is that it doesn’t require much time messing with the order sheet. With a base MSRP of $22,930, our test car included automatic headlamps, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped shifter knob and steering wheel, leather seating surfaces, automatic climate control, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, and a proximity key. The sole option was the $1500 Sun & Sound package, which adds a power glass sunroof and swaps out the stock six-speaker stereo for a 710-watt, nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate premium audio system. Despite the glaring omission of a navigation system (that’ll set you back an additional $1800), the tested Lancer SEL packed a respectable amount of content for its $24,430 price.
Plastic Not So Fantastic
It’s when you climb behind the wheel of the Lancer that demerits begin to accrue. The steering column tilts but does not telescope. The touchscreen icons and a smattering of physical controls are so tiny that using them requires diverting too much attention from the road. Also, the short bottom cushions and generic sculpting of the seats make them pale in comparison to the comfortable thrones in a Honda Civic or a Mazda 3. The tiny trunklid opens to reveal a small space of only 12 cubic feet (also, the premium audio system and its trunk-mounted subwoofer crowd cargo volume by 0.5 cubic foot), which is less than the 15 cubes found in the Civic sedan or the 13 in the Toyota Corolla. The quality of the interior materials is also woefully below that of its competitors, as if Mitsubishi is sourcing its plastics from a couple of decades ago. Read more...