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2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Overview
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Minimal changes were made across all trims for the 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer. But a fifth trim – the SE – has been added to the 30th-anniversary lineup as a more powerful, all-wheel-drive alternative to the lower-end trims and marks the first time that AWD has been offered in a non-performance version of the Lancer (think Lancer Evolution).
In addition to the SE, the trims available for the 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer are the DE, ES, GT and Ralliart. Standard equipment for all trims includes a 140-watt CD/MP3 audio system with DSP control, height-adjustable headrests and 3-point seatbelts in all 3 rear-seat positions, Micron air filtration system, power windows (with automatic up/down driver's-side window), power door locks, side-view mirrors, side air dams, clear-and-black taillights, tilt-adjustable steering column, auto-off halogen headlamps and a theft-deterrent engine immobilizer. Standard safety features for all trims include antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, active stability and traction control, a tire pressure monitoring system and a 7-airbag safety system including a driver's knee airbag.
The DE, which is the base trim, and ES come equipped with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder MIVEC engine that is rated at 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. Both are front-wheel drive and have a 5-speed manual transmission, although the ES can be upgraded to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The SE and GT trims are packaged with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder MIVEC engine that generates 168 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. Both are available with the CVT, and the GT can be configured with a 5-speed manual transmission as well. The SE is AWD (which Mitsubishi calls All-Wheel Control, or AWC), and the GT is front-wheel drive. The Ralliart also has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, but comes with a turbocharger that raises the horsepower to 237 and generates 253 lb-ft of torque. It is also AWC and comes with a 6-speed twin-clutch Sportronic automatic transmission that offers manual shifting. Fuel mileage varies by trim. The DE is rated at 25 mpg city/34 highway. The ES with a manual transmission is rated the same, but gets 26/34 with a CVT. The SE gets 22/29, and the Ralliart gets 18/25. The GT is rated at 22/31 with a standard transmission and 23/30 with a CVT.
Available options vary depending on trim. The DE, ES and SE come standard with 16-inch wheels (steel for the DE and ES, aluminum for the SE), and the GT and Ralliart come standard with 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels along with fog lights, 4-wheeel disc brakes and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and parking-brake handle. Paddle shifters are standard on the Ralliart, but also an available option for the CVT-equipped GT. Leather seats, front seat heaters and a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system come standard in both the GT and Ralliart trims, while xenon HID headlamps are optional for both. A 40GB hard disc navigation system with music server are optional for all trims except the DE. Air conditioning, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers and a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat are also standard for all trims except the DE (which has a 4-way adjustable seat). Bluetooth hands-free phone interface and SiriusXM radio are also options available for the higher-end trims.
The Mitsubishi Lancer's exterior color options for 2012 are Rally Red, Apex Silver, Mercury Gray, Octane Blue, Wicked White and Tarmac Black. Interior color options are black fabric for the DE, black cloth for the ES and SE, and black sports fabric and black leather for the GT and Ralliart.
Complaints against the 5-passenger Lancer are few, but mostly surround the engine, especially the 2.0-liter engine, which owners say is underpowered, even for a compact, and produces anemic acceleration, especially when driving on the highway. The loudness of the CVT, especially in the ES trim, also has raised the ire of some owners. Fuel efficiency in the more expensive trims is not as good as that of some competitors, including the Mazda3, Kia Forte and Suburu Impreza. Safety, meanwhile, remains a positive for the Lancer, as it received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick for the fourth consecutive year with the 2012 model year.