Mitsubishi Lancer’s last stand is a notable one. The Lancer represents a unique niche in its small sedan class. It’s too bad this high-performance whip was discontinued this year. Finally the 4-door sedan has the perfect marriage of power, efficiency and low coefficient drag, plus comfortable cabin that make it an ideal everyday whip.
The 2017 Lancer is available with front-wheel drive and all-wheel control for the base ES, SE and top-of-the-line SEL. Fully loaded the 2017 Lancer SEL has a top-notch drivetrain and dynamic acceleration and agility, more athletic than a 3-series BMW.
With a MSRP of just $22k, the sporty whip is on par with other small sedans. But the 2017 Lancer tramples over its compact competitors with 167 lb-ft of torque and a 30 mpg highway EPA. Considering the Lancer SEL AWC boasts sport tuned suspension, heated leather seats and 710 watt Rockford Fosgate speaker system, it offers more than some base lux compact sedans.
We reviewed the 2017 Lancer SEL with sturdy 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. The powerful little sedan is ideal for the millennial hungry for high-speed adventure but still wants to save money. It’s also a great summer whip – low on gas and great for road travel. Its spacious interior as upgrades like a 6 inch center touch screen and multicolor LCD display in the dash.
Youthful Fresh Design
The 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer design is largely unchanged. The limited production Lancer Evolution had more stylish blacked-out and mesh features to match its turbo engine. The base Lancer SE has 16 inch alloy wheels, heated color-keyed side mirrors and garnish on the side fenders. While the top-of-the-line SEL model we reviewed has 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome accenting the grille and beltline, and mesh accent garnish. LED fog lights and rear spoiler are available.
The 2017 Lancer SEL’s overall design is a big step in the right direction. It’s unfortunate we won’t see what could’ve come from adding even more of the Evolution’s sporty features as standard. Yet the Lancer SEL style reflects contemporary affordable athleticism, much the same way Miata or Mustang appealed to young adults in the 80’s and 90’s.
I like the more chiseled body with its sporty air dams and a seemingly longer wheelbase. The AWC Lancer SEL has a 103 inch wheelbase and is 182 inches long offering ideal comfort for the front passengers and ample legroom in the rear. The SEL Sun and Sound Package ($1,500) adds a sunroof and 710 Rockford Fosgate 9-speaker sound system.
The 2017 Lancer SEL has chrome door handles, leather seats, and leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The rear camera is standard on all models. Cool comfort tech includes the steering wheel controls for audio, cruise and Bluetooth, Fuse Hands Free Link system, keyless entry and Fast Key passive entry system, and rain sensing wipers.
The center stack and console area is designed for maximum comfort for short and tall drivers. The layout is simplistic, but also classier and functional. The 2017 Lancer SEL has a standard 6 inch center touch screen with available Sirius SM Satellite Radio. Below the touchscreen sits just three large knobs for adjusting climate.
Blue LED ambient and floor lighting is available with a LED illumination package ($335). An optional navigation package includes MMCS Navigation with annual updates ($1,800).
The 2017 Lancer also has great storage offering door pockets with bottle holders, a center console box, a center stack cubby hole, a card holder in the glove box, side floor console, and lower storage in the center armrest. Front passengers have about 38 inches of headroom (with sunroof) and 42 inches of legroom, while the rear passengers have 36 inches of legroom and 36 inches of headroom. With the subwoofer in the rear the Lancer SEL offers 11.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
The center dash with digital color display is much improved to show even more useful driving stats and safety info.
Perfectly-Tuned Powertrain Formula Should Carry On
By far the saddest part about the end of the Lancer’s lifecycle is that the powertrain may die with it. Few compact sedans in the low $20k range have such a fine-tuned high-performing powertrain and efficient drivetrain. The 2017 Lancer offers a base 2.0 liter MIVEC DOHC 4-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque for the ES 2WD.
The 2017 Lancer ES AWD and SEL models boast a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder with 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque. The 2.0 liter is matched to a 5-speed manual transmission in the Lancer ES. And the Lancer SEL we reviewed has a continuously variable transmission that at 70 mph uses just 2,000 rpm! A gentle tap of the gas sends the whip flying 1,000 yards ahead. And the CVT gives me juice to climb above 4,000 rpm instead of degrading.
Acceleration is optimal in the Lancer, especially with All-wheel Control. Torque is ready to go with just a slight tap of the gas. And the whip gets up and stays up for a longs as needed. The Lancer hugs corners and turns with precision thanks to sophisticated MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension.
All-wheel control and sport-tuned suspension give the Lancer elevated sports car-like performance. And drivers can kick it into sport mode for more high-speed devilment.
Electronically controlled all-wheel drive adds a drive mode selector, eco meter and center differential lock button. I wish the CVT had paddle shifters. The powertrain of the Lancer SEL gives drivers the right amount of efficiency, sportiness and high comfort. The 2.0 liter 4-cylinder ES boasts a 28 mpg highway EPA (24 mpg city/ and 34 mpg highway). And the SEL, SE, and ES AWC CVT has a combined EPA of 26 mpg (30 mpg highway/ 23 mpg city). All models with the exception of the base ES has a rack-and-pinion hydraulic power assist steering. The ES has electric power steering.
With a 4-star overall safety rating, the Lancer has basic standard safety features like ABS, EBD, tire pressure monitoring system, RISE safety body construction and traction control logic. Braking is on a dime with front and rear disc brakes.
The elevated 2017 Lancer SEL is a proper farewell to the sporty underdog. Let’s hope some of the cool design cues make their way in to future Mitsubishi sedans.