The Bottom Line
Seems we just finished reviewing the all-new 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer, and already they've introduced an improved 2009 version. The changes affect the Lancer GTS, the racy top-of-the-line model, which gets a bigger engine -- 2.4 liters and 168 horsepower, versus 2.0 liters and 152 hp for DE and ES models and the 2008 GTS. Outside, the boy-racer theme returns with a body kit and a big trunk spoiler. Does the new engine make the Lancer GTS a true sportser? Read on.
- Strong engine
- Racy styling (if that's your thing)
- Decent fuel economy
- Bargain-bin interior bits
- GTS gets bigger engine than other Lancer models, similar to the old-shape Lancer Ralliart
- Slots in above DE and ES, below turbocharged Ralliart and Evolution models
- Price range: $18,640 - $23,190
- Price as tested: $20,390
- EPA fuel economy estimates: 21 MPG city/28 MPG highway (manual), 21/27 (CVT automatic)
Guide Review - 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS
Mitsubishi introduced the current version of the Lancer as a 2008 model, and one of my few complaints about it was that if you opted for a manual transmission, it took a lot of shifting to keep the 2.0 liter engine on the boil. The GTS' new 2.4 liter engine, which boasts an extra 16 horsepower and 21 lb-ft of torque, solves that problem nicely. And fuel economy is still very respectable -- despite the engine constantly chomping at the bit and begging me to go faster, I managed MPG figures in the mid 20s in town and almost 30 on the road.
In the curves, the new Lancer GTS is scrappy and energetic. It's a lot more fun than the Toyota Corolla XRS, but it just doesn't grip the road as well as proper sport-compact sedans like the Honda Civic Si and the Volkswagen GLI. That said, at $18,640 it's $3-$5k cheaper. Spend the difference on a set of aftermarket springs, shocks and tires, and I bet the Lancer GTS could give the Honda and the Vee Dub a run for their money.
But you still won't have a nicer car. Inside, the Lancer feels like you found it in the discount rack. Compared to the Civic, Corolla, and Jetta, its dash and interior trim are dated and a little cheap.
Still, there aren't many cars that deliver so much fun for such a reasonable price. The base-model Volkswagen Jetta would be my pick, though it's thirstier than the Lancer. The Toyota Corolla XRS matches the Lancer for get-up-and-go, but it's nowhere near as enjoyable to drive. And the Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V is just as much fun but a couple grand more expensive.
The verdict: I like it. In terms of grins-per-dollar, the Lancer GTS is a tremendous value. Taken as a whole, it's not the best car in its class, but its heart is in the right place. If more cars were designed with the Lancer GTS' spirit, the world would be a much more enjoyable place to drive. -- Aaron Gold