2012 Mitsubishi Lancer
Sportback functionality; lots of sporty fun; excellent performance from Ralliart model; intense performance from the Evolution model
The 5-seat Lancer comes in two distinct body styles, a few engines and a couple of trim levels for each in 2012. At the heart of the base Lancer DE and also the ES in either sedan or Sportback styles is a 2.0L 4-cylinder, which produces 152 hp and comes mated to a standard 5-speed manual transmission.
Farther up the Lancer food chain is the 2.4L 4-cylinder, which delivers 168 hp and powers the GT in both sedan and Sportback trim. A 5-speed manual is standard there as well, though ES and GT models can be ordered with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). DE, ES and GT Lancers are front-wheel drive.
The Lancer Evolution comes with a 291-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a choice of 5-speed manual transmission and a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. Evolutions are equipped only with all-wheel drive.
The Lancer DE comes with plenty of features, such as power windows, doors and mirrors, plus anti-lock brakes, passenger and driver airbags, a knee airbag and side-impact airbags. The ES adds on air conditioning, keyless entry and steering wheel audio controls. The ES also has a 60/40 folding rear seat.
Next is the Lancer Ralliart, also available in either body style. It derives its 237 hp and 253 lb-feet of torque from a turbocharged 2.4L 4-cylinder. That power is put to all four wheels through either a 5-speed manual or Mitsubishi's advanced, rally-inspired Twin Clutch-Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST). Ralliart styling includes fog lights, rear spoiler, sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels as well limited-slip front and rear differentials. The Ralliart gets an upgraded 140-watt sound system, with an optional 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate system. Other options include a navigation system and Recaro sport seats.
In creating the Sportback, available in ES, with a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine and GT trim with a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine, designers kept functionality in mind as much as sportiness, and gave it a cargo floor that can be lowered three inches for more space and a rear door that extends all the way to the bumper for loading heavy or cumbersome gear.
The top-of-the performance heap Lancer Evolution is an impressive performance sedan by any measure. It features a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 291 horsepower and 300 lb-feet of torque, front and rear limited-slip differentials and a high-tech electronically controlled center differential. Mitsubishi used its knowledge and experience on the rally circuit to perfect the computer-controlled all-wheel drive system found in the Evolution and the result is impressive levels of control and safety even at high speed.
The Evolution also comes with Brembo 4-piston brakes, 18-inch Enkei alloy wheels, aluminum body panels, a large rear spoiler, fog lamps, active stability control and sports-tuned anti-lock brakes.
After a year-long hiatus, the Lancer Evolution returns for 2012.
The Lancer SE all-wheel drive returns for 2012. It comes with 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, fog lamps, Bluetooth, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Ralliart all-wheel drive now offers optional navigation, as does the GT model and the Sportback ES offers optional 16-inch alloy wheels and a deluxe package that includes an upgraded 6-speaker stereo with a USB port, FAST-key entry system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, SIRIUS and a color LCD dash indicator display.
The manual transmission is no longer available on the Sportback models and the TC-SST Sportback Ralliart model is not offered for 2012.
At the base level, the Lancer packs plenty of fun and safety features into a sub-$15,000 package. The Ralliart models, feature a mild turbocharged engine but enough performance to be surprise. Sportback models add increased functionality. The base Lancer returns great fuel economy, achieving 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
Finally, the Lancer Evolution continues to be one of the best performance values available. A 291-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine combined with Mitsubishi's famed Super All-Wheel Control system makes for intense power and control that costs less than $35,000.
* EPA mileage estimates and EPA fuel economy methods based on models beginning with
the indicated model year. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models
before the indicated model year. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how
you drive and maintain your vehicle.