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2010 Mitsubishi Lancer ReviewThe Good
The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer offers unique styling, high-end performance, and first-rate safety with the pricing and efficiency of an economy car.The Bad
Low-end interior materials, a loud engine, and a scarcity of standard technological features leave the 2010 Lancer short of others in its class.
The CarGurus View
Looking for a fun ride with assertive style, but don’t want to break the bank? Then the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer is your vehicle, as long you don’t mind some extra noise at high speeds and a few hard plastics in your cabin.
At a Glance
With an aggressive front-end style inspired by fighter jets, a prominent and daring spoiler, and a sleek profile, the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer has style that’s rare for a compact economy car – one that turns heads. The major changes for the Lancer in 2010 come with the introduction of the Lancer Sportback model line. This four-door sedan makes no dramatic departures from the 2009 version.
The Lancer sedan comes in four trims – the base DE, ES, GTS, and Ralliart. The DE has that unique Lancer front fascia, but it does not have a spoiler and comes with plain black door handles and mirrors and 16-inch steel wheels. The ES shares the 2-liter, inline four-cylinder (I4) engine of the DE, but is adorned with body-color door handles and mirrors, a chrome grille surround, and 16-inch alloy wheels. The GTS gets a power upgrade to a 2.4-liter I4 and comes with the spoiler, chrome exhaust, front and side body extensions, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The Ralliart has a turbo I4, hood vents, unique bumpers (front with a chrome accent ring), and chrome molding around the side windows.
All the various Lancer powertrains have a solid feel and mechanical track record backed by a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty. The DE and ES trims handle well and get the job done on the road, while the GTS and Ralliart add some fun to your daily driving. The front seats are exceptionally comfortable, and so are the back seats, but not for three adults or even two car seats and another child.
The standard interior accessories and the optional ones are close to commensurate with this class, but the overall quality of the cabin doesn’t match the level of refinement of competitors from Volkswagen, Honda, or Toyota. And owners who are looking for top-end performance from their economy car may want to check out the MAZDA3. But the Lancer is affordable, well-built, and stylish - a very nice mix for a compact.
Three different engines are available for the Lancer. The DE and ES trims are powered by a 2-liter I4 (152 hp, 146 lb-ft of torque), the GTS gets a 2.4-liter I4 (168 hp, 167 lb-ft of torque), and the high-end performance Ralliart comes with a 2-liter turbocharged I4 (237 hp, 253 lb-ft of torque). The DE, ES, and GTS have the option of a five-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Ralliart comes standard with a six-speed Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift transmission.
With the five-speed manual, the DE and ES get 22 city/31 highway mpg, and with the CVT transmission they get 23/30. The GTS gets 20/28 with the manual and 22/29 with the CVT. The Ralliart averages 17/25, comes with a smaller fuel tank (14.5 gallons, compared to 15.6), and takes premium 93-octane unleaded.
While most owners will opt for the CVT transmission, reviewers prefer the manual transmission. They feel the CVT drains power from the 2-liter I4 and adds to the noise already generated by this less-than-quiet engine.
Ride & Handling
Performance varies greatly among the Lancer trim levels. The DE and ES are best suited for around-town driving and daily commutes, just like you’d expect out of an economy compact, but they have a very solid feel on the road and offer a little more excitement than your average econobox. The GTS makes a major leap with its 2.4-liter, 168-horse I4 and sport-tuned suspension, providing extra pop off the line and a more spirited experience on windy roads.
If you love the Lancer's style and need the thrill of performance driving, then the Ralliart is your trim – turbocharged engine, 237 horsepower, Active Center Differential, full-time all-wheel drive, and high-end suspension tuning. Of course the Ralliart isn’t really an economy car with an MSRP of $27,190, but performance isn’t usually cheap.
The GTS and Ralliart trims have sport front seats that hug occupants for a stable and comfortable experience on long trips or short. The DE and ES front seats are also supportive with ample legroom and headroom. Legs and heads have plenty of space in the back seats of all four trims, but more than two normal-size adults would not be comfortable for an extended period of time in the Lancer’s back seats.
The speedometer and tachometer are large and easy to read, but some reviewers don’t like the positioning or size of the climate and audio controls, though these placements would likely not be an issue given time. Wind noise is not a problem for the Lancer, but a universal complaint is its engine noise, which is high even for this class.
Cabin & Comfort
The base DE trim comes with minimal technology, as you might expect – power windows, locks, and mirrors and a four-speaker, 140-watt CD/MP3 stereo are the highlights. The ES adds steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls and a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, and is Bluetooth ready. The GTS and Ralliart make significant upgrades with a full-color LCD information screen, a Bluetooth interface with voice recognition, two additional speakers for the stereo, and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the CVT or SST transmission. Seating material varies with each of the four trims as well, upgrading along with the price.
Overall, the cabin is a low point for the Lancer. Too many hard plastics and flimsy-feeling controls prompt multiple complaints from reviewers, although they all agree the 2010's quality is an improvement over past years.
The Lancer’s 12.3 cubic feet of trunk volume is good for its class. The GTS and Ralliart have 60/40 split-folding seats to provide more cargo volume and flexibility.
Safety is a focus of the Lancer, which got five out of five stars in frontal driver and passenger crash tests. All four trims come standard with an antilock braking system with electronic brake assist, active stability control with traction control, hill-start assist, active front seat structure to reduce whiplash, a front pedestrian crumple zone, daytime running lamps, and a tire pressure monitoring system. It also comes standard with seven air bags – two in front for the driver and front passenger, a knee bag for the driver, side-impact bags for both front seats, and curtain bags that deploy from each side of the headliner.
What Owners Think
There are more positive owner reviews of the Lancer than negative ones, but the full spectrum is represented. Glowing and moderate reviews alike praise the Lancer's handling, with multiple drivers comparing it to a sports car. Styling is another high point for the Lancer, with many “I get lots of looks on the street” comments. The stereo system also receives high praise, as do the safety features, which one owner says likely saved his life.
Complaints are primarily about noise and lack of power. Not only do some owners find the engine noise too much, but the transmission noise as it hunts for gears is grating. Although professional reviewers complain about the interior's material and build quality, there are few matching owner complaints.