- Styling (especially GTS) that could be mistaken for an Evo
- Sharp, responsive handling
- Sweet-shifting manual transmission
- Engine noise, and not the sporty kind
- Lots of road noise on coarse surfaces
- Dull interior plastics
The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer is a basic but sporty sedan with some tech features not often offered in this class.
The Lancer is Mitsubishi's smallest sedan and lowest-priced car in the U.S. lineup. The automaker is selling the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer not as an economy car but as a "compact sport sedan," and its appearance and equipment--especially for the top GTS model--take a decidedly sporty direction. The high-performance Evolution model is based on the Lancer, but it's covered in a separate review.
All 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer models get a 152-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, paired with either a very precise-shifting five-speed manual or a "gearless" CVT automatic. The CVT includes a so-called Sportronic mode, with six simulated gears. With the manual especially, the engine has reasonably perky performance, though the engine is loud and booming when revved or under hard acceleration.
In sporty GTS models notably, though there isn't an abundance of power, very crisp steering response and good handling, along with nice, firm braking, make the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer a lot of fun to drive.
The Lancer has exterior styling that's very similar to that of the Evolution, including sporty interior themes and a mix of darker surfaces and matte-metallic trim that looks sporty and attractive from a few feet away but somewhat dull and cheap up close. The interior of the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer is well designed, with generous space in front for the driver and passenger, as well as a very nice, upright driving position--made even better by the sport seats added in the GTS. Space in back is tight, but not as bad as some other vehicles its size. The Lancer rides quite hard, however, with plenty of road noise entering the cabin from coarse pavement.
At the low end of the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer lineup, there's a base DE model, and it's equipped modestly but is very cheaply priced. Steel wheels are standard, and there are only drum rear brakes with optional anti-lock, but power windows and a CD sound system are among the standard features. Midlevel ES models add stabilizer bars, ventilated disc brakes, a split-folding backseat, steering-wheel audio controls, keyless entry, and air conditioning. At the top of the range, the GTS brings a range of features that reaches toward the Evo, including a sport suspension, fog lamps, rear spoiler, air dams, sport seats, a Bluetooth calling interface, and automatic climate control.
Top options on the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer include a 650-watt Rockford-Fosgate sound system, a sunroof, and a navigation system that includes a 30GB hard-drive music server.
The Lancer has done quite well in crash tests, with four- and five-star ratings in the federal tests for frontal and side impact, and Good ratings for both frontal impact and rear impact from the IIHS. Standard safety features in the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer include front side airbags, side-curtain bags, and a driver's knee airbag. Anti-lock brakes are standard on the ES and GTS but not offered on the DE, and electronic stability control is not available on the Lancer.