The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer continues the enduring legacy of the compact sedan. It’s now 41 years old.

The Lance is rarely mentioned first and often mentioned among the least favorite options for compacts in a car segment with more than 40 options, including perennial favorites like the Honda Civic, Ford Fiesta and Mazda3.

But the Lancer has endured. During its first 35 years ending in 2008, more than six million Lancers were sold worldwide by nearly a dozen different names.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Available in five trims, including the top-line, performance-oriented Ralliart and Evo models, my test drive for the week was the GT edition.

The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer is the 41st year of the enduring sedan
2014 Mitsubishi Lancer. Images © James Raia/2013

The base model includes a good chunk of standard features: automatic headlights, keyless entry, a tilt-only steering wheel, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a 60/40-split rear seat, front and rear center armrests, a height-adjustable driver seat, steering-wheel audio controls and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

 

As the high-end trim, the Lancer GT trim features the standard base model equipment and healthy list of upgrades on the SE trim and upgrades specific to the GT trim: 2.4-liter front-wheel drive engines, 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, foglights, a sports-oriented front fascia, rear spoiler, keyless ignition/entry, automatic climate control, upgraded front seats (with extra side bolstering), leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, shift paddles (with the CVT), the 6.1-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, Fuse, Bluetooth, a USB input and a six-speaker sound system with HD/satellite radio..

My weekly driver also included:

The Deluxe package: Sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, a six-speaker stereo, the Fuse voice-activated electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, USB/iPod integration, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and padded door panel inserts.

The Touring package: Leather upholstery, xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, Rockford Fosgate audio, a sunroof and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Adding this package also substitutes a more discrete rear lip spoiler for the larger rear wing.

Overall, the automotive industry doesn’t make many bad cars. And certainly, the Lancer doesn’t function poorly on any level. But nor does it shine any specific area.

I drove the Lancer about 200 miles. It was more comfortable and had more interior room than I expected. The car performed with satisfaction in city driving and has nimble steering.

On the freeway, however, the Lancer doesn’t hold up to others in its class. It was loud and often struggled on ascents or when a boost of power was necessary in a tight passing situation.

And while the interior is spacious, the console and other interior sections are made with only marginal quality materials.

Likes:

Good rear seat configuration and ample leg and head room.

High-performance engine options available.

Optional Fosgate sound system, part of the Touring Package, is among the car’s best features.

Dislikes:

Odd, loud engine noise.

Rough Continuously Variable Transmission shifting.

Plain front grille only adds to the Lancer’s bland appearance.

Interior design, quality of materials mediocre.

Facts & Figures: 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 9.1 seconds.
Airbags (7).
Fuel economy: 23 mpg (city), 30 mpg (highway), 26 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission
Government Safety Ratings: NHTSA, Overall, 4 our of five stars; Frontal crash, Driver, five stars; Passenger, four stars; Side crash, front seat, five stars; Rear seat, three stars; Rollover, four stars.
Horsepower: 148.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $21,445.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: mitsubishicars.com.
Price As tested: $27,390.00
Warranty: Bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/unlimited miles; Corrosion, 7 years/100,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“You won’t find a bevy of creature comforts like ventilated front seats or watchful safety features such as blind-spot monitoring in the aging Lancer lineup. For the latest in tech, safety and comfort features, look to models like the Kia Forte, Mazda3, or Chevrolet Cruze – all of which offer better fuel efficiency, too.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“There’s no getting around the fact that our GT tester, at $22,240 as-tested (with no options) is awfully expensive for a car only slightly peppier, not usably larger, and not better equipped than the segment’s best compact cars.” — Left Lane News.

“There’s nothing gravely wrong with the 2014 Lancer, which offers an acceptably smooth ride and ample amenities in the cabin. However, if you start looking at the details, the picture isn’t quite so rosy.” — Edmunds.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“In a hugely crowded segment, Mitsubishi needs to do something special with the Lancer to gain a decent market share. With the exception of the performance-oriented Ralliart and Evo trims, it hasn’t.”

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