It’s not exceptionally quick, but the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer offers a brisk driving experience with fun, responsive handling. For 2009, the Lancer GTS model receives a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 168 horsepower.
Car and Driver feels that while the Lancer's 2009 engine is "a bit weak on the low end, the 2.0-liter comes to life with plenty of power around 3500 rpm." Motor Trend reviewers say that the Mitsubishi Lancer's "engine is smooth enough, although not as sweet sounding as the" Honda Civic's. Cars.com attests that the "152-hp four-cylinder engine produces plenty of power to move the Lancer at highway speeds," though Edmunds warns that the Mitsubishi Lancer "doesn't feel especially quick with the 2.0-liter engine."
When it comes to performance, ConsumerGuide finds that Mitsubishi's Lancers have only "adequate pickup with manual transmission, and they're borderline sluggish with the CVT." One notable difference between the trim levels in terms of transmissions is that, "when equipped with the CVT," the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer in GTS trim "features a six-step manumatic mode using steering wheel paddle shifters," according to Car and Driver. The Auto Channel claims that "the standard five-speed manual gearbox has well-matched gear rations and quick, positive shift linkage," and The Detroit News adds that "CVT calibration makes this an excellent around-town racer."
Reviewers at The Auto Channel comment that the new Mitsubishi Lancer sports "precise handling and steering for a fun-to-drive character," which is especially true on the GTS trim. Car and Driver states that steering is "good, not great, with nice off-center precision but not much feedback"; they note "roadholding, however, is absolutely stellar." ConsumerGuide chimes in by saying that "the DE and ES exhibit decent grip," and "the tauter GTS is more agile and fun." One benefit of the slightly reduced grip and handling on the DE and ES models is that, according to ConsumerGuide, they "are absorbent and capable" when it comes to offering smooth rides, while "the GTS rides a bit harsher due to its firmer suspension and 18-inch tires." Theoretically, it shouldn't be hard to turn small cars like the Mitsubishi Lancer into sporty handlers. Sometimes automakers choose not to do so simply for practical reasons, but with the Lancer's 2009 edition, Mitsubishi has crafted a small sedan that boasts excellent handling.
For a small car with a small engine, you would probably expect higher fuel economy numbers than the EPA estimates of 22 mpg city, 29 highway for the automatic and 21/29 mpg for the manual. Comparatively, the 2009 Honda Civic with a five-speed manual returns an EPA-estimated 26/34 mpg.