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2012 Mitsubishi Lancer SE AWD: Driven Page 2

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2012 Mitsubishi Lancer SE AWD - Driven, July 2012

As we point out in our full review of the Lancer, the interior packaging of this small sedan is excellent, and at 6'-6” I could sit up straight in the backseat and have both enough headroom and legroom (though it's strictly two across). We loved the driving position in this car (even though you still can't telescope the steering wheel); front seats are more supportive than you get in most other small sedans as well, and trunk space feels almost mid-size-caliber.

Great steering and handling; lackluster interior

The steering also deserves to be singled out; despite the rather tall-sidewall tires fitted to the SE, the rather quick-ratio steering feels light but naturally weighted and has some feedback. As with the rest of the Lancer lineup, it's a joy zooming around tight corners.

But there’s still lots to be desired inside the Lancer—not because the interior isn’t well-designed, as it is, but mainly because the interior appointments feel so darn cheap; and it’s sorely lacking noise insulation. Once underway, when you don't hear the engine you're listening to a drone of pavement noise; you literally hear everything that's going on with the road surface. There's hard plastic everywhere that looks like it might be easily scratched, and the upholstery, whether for the seats or center-console cover, is the proverbial mouse fur, attracting lint and showing what already looked like stressed seams.

One additional point: The doors and trunk slam with a sort of secondary reverberation that we thought Japanese automakers lost in the 1990s; and a very loose, felt-like mat kept sliding out of place with whatever parcel we carried in the trunk, revealing bare metal underneath.

Against Subaru, can this Mitsubishi measure up?

The Lancer SE starts at $20,195, but with the navigation system—packaged with music-server media storage and real-time traffic—our test car had a bottom-line price of $23,285. To compare, a Subaru Impreza Premium with navigation, a moonroof, and the alloy wheel package adds up to about $700 less.

So is the Lancer SE any threat to Subaru? And would we even seriously think of getting this instead of an Impreza? Let there be no doubt: Absolutely not. Feature-wise it adds up, but the low mileage, the shoddy interior, remarkably bad CVT drivability, and all the noise bring a clear answer.

Meanwhile, Subaru continues to make bank from, in part, its all-wheel-drive primacy. For the sake of a free market, may a competitor please step up.

See our review pages for details on the rest of the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer lineup—including the (more likable) sporty Ralliart and high-performance Evolution.


 
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  1. Ok first of all, I don't know if you guys are racing the SE or what. I get 27city/34hwy. I have even gotten as high as 38 mpg on the hwy. I don't drive my SE like a maniac, I tend to drive you know...the speed limit. Yes It has the power to go 100+, but why?
     
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