2011 Mitsubishi Lancer ESEnlarge Photo
In 2011, buying an all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Lancer required you to purchase either the high-performance 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or its slightly detuned stable mate, the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. Both are fine cars, but their high-strung turbocharged engines and stiff suspensions limit their appeal to those focused on performance, not grocery-getting or commuting. The price of admission for either all-wheel-drive Lancer was steep, too, since the less expensive Lancer Ralliart started at just under $28,500 before options were added.
That’s quite a stretch from the base Lancer’s starting price of around $16,000, and Mitsubishi knows that it's losing sales because of it. For 2012, the Japanese automaker is adding a new SE model to the Lancer product line, and the car will feature all-wheel drive at a sticker price of around $20,000. That money won’t buy a turbocharged engine or sport suspension, but it will give those looking for an all-wheel-drive compact sedan an alternative to Subaru and Suzuki.
Mitsubishi is scrambling to increase sales in the United States, and it hopes to hit unit sales of 73,000 vehicles in the current fiscal year. That’s a far cry from the company’s sales peak in 2007, when Mitsubishi sold nearly 129,000 vehicles in the United States. Sales haven’t been helped by Mitsubishi’s odd stance on their flagship Lancer Evolution, either; after hinting that the current model may be the end of the line, the automaker reversed course and said that the Lancer Evolution may be advanced in a “different direction” as “market needs and demands change.”
[Automotive News (subscription required)]