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2017 Mitsubishi Lancer: Goodbye, you’ve had a good life

The 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer is the last year for the compact sedan.

Say hello to the 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer and wish it farewell. Overshadowed for years by perennial favorites and fast-charging newcomers, the 2017 model is the compact car’s last year.

The 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer is the last year for the compact sedan.
The 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer is the last year for the compact sedan.

With plans to stop Lancer production in August, Mitsubishi will continue to emphasize its popular sport utility vehicle and crossover lineup.

For its final year, the Lancer has improved technology: a rearview camera and a 6.1-inch center screen standard. But the updates won’t reach many buyers. With competitors like the Honda Civic, Madza3, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte, the Lancer lost its luster with only 14,304 units sold in 2016.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Manufactured since 1973, the Mitsubishi Lancer has arguably had more names than any car, the Dodge/Plymouth Colt to the Galant Fortis and the Eagle Summit to the Soueast Lioncel. The Lancer name is derived from the name of a cavalry soldier armed with a Lance. It’s an odd name for a car, and it doesn’t help the disappearing car’s image.

Available in three trims, I drove the top-line SEL. It’s equipped with a 2.4-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder engined with 148 horsepower.

The SEL includes the lengthy collection of standard features from the ES and SE models, but a strong collection of upgrades. The list includes: Automatic headlights, automatic wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded interior trim, leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

The optional Sun and Sound Package ($1,500.00) was also included and featured a power glass sunroof, an impressive Rockford Fosgate audio system with nine speakers, including a monstrous sub-woofer in the trunk.

Driving the Lancer is frustrating. It’s comfortable and provides good overall space for front and back seat occupant. And give Mitsubishi credit. It offers the Lancer with an electronically controlled all-wheel drive system called All Wheel Control. It’s a rare feature compact sedans.

But that’s about it for the Lancer’s positive attributes. While handling is satisfactory, acceleration is sluggish and the overall ride is rough and loud.

The interior is a mix of plainness and cheap-looking plastic. A small trunk (12.3 cubic feet) gets smaller (11.8 cubic feet) with the massive sub-woof installed. The 60/40-split rear seatbacks help alleviate some cargo space limitations.

Mitsubishi took the basics and added a few unexpected niceties. But the combination doesn’t help the Lancer get closer to its top-selling competitors.

Likes:
Available all-wheel drive, rare in compact sedans.
Lots of standard features.
Nimble handling.

Dislikes:
Mediocre gas mileage.
Poor truck space.
Poor interior material quality.
Noisy engine, rough ride.

Facts & Figures: 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.0 seconds.
Airbags: 7.
Fuel economy: 23 mpg (city), 30 mpg (highway), 26 mpg (combined).
Horsepower: 148.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $22,095.00.
Manufacturer’s Website: www.mitsubishicars.com.
Price As tested: $24,430.00
Warranty: Bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“With an inexpensive interior and less-than-thrilling driving chops, the Lancer leaves much to be desired.” — Car and Driver

“The Lancer’s long-in-the-tooth status isn’t its only detriment. In addition to lacking the latest tech, safety and comfort features, the Lancer’s lineup and engine choices have dwindled.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“Despite its recent facelift, the Lancer is an outdated and insubstantial compact sedan. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is rough, the continuously variable transmission makes the car moan plaintively, fuel economy is uncompetitive, and the car is sluggish from a stop.” — Consumer Reports.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“With so much competition in the compact sedan market, the Lancer lost its way. It doesn’t hold up to its rivals and bows out in bad shape after a long run.”

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