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2010 Mitsubishi Lancer ES test drive

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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2010 Mitsubishi Lancer ES front-left view

2010 Mitsubishi Lancer ES

Photo © Aaron Gold

The Bottom Line

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The Lancer is Mitsubishi's entry in the compact-sedan market -- a refreshingly different one when compared to the look-alike Honda Civics, Toyota Corollas and Hyundai Elantras lining most dealership's lots. And yet sales of the Lancer are a fraction of the "big guys". Is the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer an opportunity not to be missed, or are buyers right in taking a pass? Read on.

Larger photos: Front - rear - interior - all photos

Pros

  • Unique styling
  • Decent value-for-money
  • Enjoyable to drive

Cons

  • Low-rent interior
  • Smallish trunk

Description

  • ES is the middle trim level of the front-drive Lancer; slots in between basic DE and racy GTS
  • Price range (including options): $15,535 - $24,435
  • Model/Price as tested: Lancer ES sedan w/ manual transmission/$20,435
  • Powertrain: 2.0 liter 4-cyl/152 hp, 2.4 liter/168 hp, 5-speed manual or continuously-variable automatic, front-wheel-drive
  • EPA MPG estimates: 22 MPG city/31 MPG highway (DE/ES manual), 23/30 (DE/ES automatic), 20/28 (GTS manual), 22/29 (GTS auto)
  • Observed fuel economy: 27 MPG
  • Best rivals: Kia Forte, Mazda3, Honda Civic

Guide Review - 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer ES test drive

When Mitsubishi launched the current Lancer in 2008, my verdict was that it was a good car, but one that really didn't stand out. A funny thing has happened over the last two years: The Lancer hasn't changed much, but my opinion has.

It's the Mitsi's styling that really does it for me. My test car showed up sporting refrigerator-white paint and zooty alloy wheels (link goes to photo), which are standard on the $17,735 ES model, along with a lower-body cladding kit and a wing on the trunk, part of an $800 Sport Package. It was an unusually handsome car, and even looking at the pictures now, it's hard to believe that the ES is only one trim level up from the cheapest Lancer. My test car's option list included a proximity key, which lets you unlock the doors and start the car without taking the key out of your pocket or purse; a sunroof; and a powerful Rockford-Fosgate stereo complete with trunk-mounted subwoofer, all of which were part of a $1900 package that brought the sticker price to just under $20,500. With electronic stability control, antilock brakes, a driver's knee airbag, and power windows and locks standard on all Lancer models -- and air conditioning included with the ES -- it's a fantastic value.

Not that it's perfect, mind you. The dashboard is a rather cheap-looking and not particularly well put together, the trunk could be bigger, and fuel economy isn't best-in-class (I averaged around 27 MPG in my stick-shift-equipped tester). But I liked the simple, straightforward control layout, and the Lancer is roomy, reasonably quick, and good fun to drive (although if you really love the curves, you should check out the more powerful Lancer GTS or even the turbocharged Lancer Ralliart). The Lancer ES hits all the right notes, and its unique styling make it stand out from the crowd of near-identical small cars on the market. If you're shopping for a compact sedan and want something a little different, I would highly recommend giving the Mitsubishi Lancer a test drive. -- Aaron Gold

Disclosure: The vehicle for this test drive was provided by Mitsubishi. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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