Bark, bite and boxes

David Yochum

Mitsubishi’s strong engine compensates for weak design

Men love hearing 120-hp scream under redline.

“Aggressive,” yelled Rogers, Sheth flooring the gas. “This is the base model for the Mitsubishi Evolution.”

For $15,499, the Mitsubishi Lancer won’t be confused with its turbo-charged Evolution offspring, but speed and top-class braking will keep drivers alive at the wheel. Sheth was thrilled with Lancer’s superb handling and performance; Rogers with engineering.

“Everything is smooth and works together,” he said. “Sometimes you get a car with a squishy gas pedal and stiff brake – not here.”


+ Incredible engine grunt

+ Brakes, handling match power

+ “Best backed” car in the world (warranty)

– Boxy, dated design

– Feature-less interior

– Not an Evo

Scanning Lancer’s interior, Sheth noticed “it all serves a purpose,” touching a dynamic stereo highlighted by a wood-grain dash. He said the dark-wood “adds something different” to Lancer’s portfolio; however ladies were less than enthusiastic about the Mitsubishi’s wardrobe.

“Everything seems plain and dated,” Dinovo argued. “The body style is boxy, not striking.”

Goffe conceded she was comfortable in Lancer’s seats – just not comfy enough to appreciate the car’s square image.

“The Lancer doesn’t look exciting,” she said. “It has a standard exterior and weird wheels.”


Base price: $15,499

Price as-tested: $17,424

Engine: 2.0L SOHC 16V 4-cylinder

HP @ rpm: 120 @ 5500

Torque @ rpm: 130 @ 4250

Transmission: 4-speed auto

Base weight (lbs): 2,789

EPA mpg (city/highway): 25/31

Behaving for Dinovo and Goffe on turns, Lancer “gripped curves with a smooth, sporty feel,” using anti-sway bars, one up front and one in back, to help reduce body roll.

Enhancing Lancer’s body is standard power amenities, air conditioning and a four-wheel independent suspension. Each new Mitsubishi also includes 10-year/100,000-mile power train and 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranties.

Attitudes vary over Lancer, but Roger’s comments bridge the gender gap.

“Performance is there with the 3,” he said. “It just didn’t have the style of the Mazda.”