2017 Mitsubishi Lancer SEL AWD Review

This dying model takes its last breath

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

Positives: All Wheel Control functions flawlessly, low sticker price, attractive exterior.
Negatives: Cheap interior materials, outdated technology, uncomfortable seats, loud engine, rough ride, generally a dinosaur that's still roaming in the 21st century (for now).
Bottom Line: The Lancer feels outdated or cheap in just about every way. The best part of this car is the All Wheel Control, which helps inspire confidence even in snowy conditions. Aside from that it's unremarkable. The vehicle is showed up by basically all the competition and its main good quality is its price, which can be beat by the likes of Hyundai, Ford and Chevy.
 View Our 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer Overview
It’s no surprise the Mitsubishi Lancer is disappearing. It’s lagging behind the competition in most respects, and Mitsubishi needs to focus on vehicles that will be cash cows right now, like crossovers and SUVs. The Lancer’s demise will mark the end of an era, one that peaked with the Lancer Evo MR and then swiftly declined to the point that we’re at today. The Evo was a different vehicle, and we’ve lamented its passing for some time now, but the typical Lancer commuter car could still be good if Mitsubishi invested any money into the model. For 2017 it didn’t, and the car looks essentially the same as last year. To really be sure, we drove the 2017 Lancer for a whole week, and what a long week it was.

Driving Experience



Some cars feel light and quick, but the Lancer doesn’t. It feels like a heavy, compact brick in most situations. When you hit a bump in this thing there’s a nice heavy “thunk” and then you roll on. This is a result of Mitsubishi going for a more sporty suspension. It shines in the corners but is annoying elsewhere. The engine is loud and drones on thanks to a CVT that seems to sap all the real power from the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.

Ride Quality: The Lancer tries for a sportier ride, but it has a tendency to feel harsh over bumps and cracks in the road. A softer ride for a commuter car would make more sense.

Acceleration: The CVT creates a noticeable rubber-banding effect, but once the car starts moving it does accelerate decently.

Braking: The brakes feel strong and progressive with decent pedal feel. While the brakes feel fine, other publications have stated that the Lancer’s braking distance is longer than competitors like the Ford Focus or the Chevrolet Cruze.

Steering: The hydraulically assisted steering in the all-wheel-drive Lancer proves to be just mediocre, offering decent amounts of feel and precision but not enough to really excite the driver.

Handling: On a twisty road, the Lancer feels pretty solid and confidence inspiring. There isn’t too much body roll and the car can be mildly fun to whip through the turns.




There are a lot of vehicles out there that do technology right. The Lancer, unfortunately, isn’t one of them. The tech in this car either feels outdated or poorly implemented. There was nothing impressive about the vehicle information display in the gauge cluster nor the infotainment system on the dash. Mitsubishi’s competitors do a much better job implementing technology into their vehicles.

Infotainment System: The 6.1-inch infotainment touchscreen is on the smaller side, but what really bothered us with the Lancer’s infotainment system was the interface itself. It felt very limited and didn’t support many of the apps you’d expect from a modern car like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Controls: Mitsubishi’s infotainment and steering wheel controls are on the cheaper and smaller side. However, there is a nice mix of buttons and touchscreen controls. It’s just that the touchscreen interface doesn’t function smoothly and sometimes doesn’t register that you tapped on something.

Bluetooth Pairing: Pairing a phone took longer than with most vehicles, and the process was not intuitive. Once our phone was paired we experienced no issues.

Voice Call Quality: Call quality was good with no issues on either end.




One of the high points of the Lancer is the way it looks. It is an attractive, mildly sporty looking compact sedan. When taking photos, we couldn’t help but notice it's attractive. Yes, the styling is a bit dated, but the car has aged well, and it still looks like a Lancer.

Front: The front features a split grille design and some low fog lights as well as attractive and mildly aggressive headlights. All together it’s a good looking packages that reminds us of the gone but not forgotten Lancer Evo.

Rear: The rear, too, is honestly pretty attractive, with the main downside being the taillights that kind of look like something a boy-racer would buy off Amazon. The taillights aren’t very cool and don’t really match the rest of the car’s sporty but sophisticated look.

Profile: The compact size and shape of the greenhouse give the lancer a poised-for-action kind of look. This car looks like it’s ready for anything from the side.

Cabin: This is where things go downhill. The layout is pretty simple and clean but with that simplicity comes the suspicion (and later realization) that Mitsubishi has cheaped-out on most components of the car.




It’s got heated leather seats, we thought, it’ll be a pretty comfortable car. Unfortunately, we were wrong. The Lancer isn’t comfortable in most respects. Ergonomically it’s lacking, the materials throughout the cabin are chintzy and mostly hard, and the seating position just never feels quite right no matter how you adjust the seat.

Front Seats: Leather-wrapped and heated. The supportive seat cushion leads you to believe that the seat is comfortable, but after 25 minutes in the car you realize there is little lumbar support and you become fatigued and uncomfortable in under an hour. Also, the leather isn’t of high-quality and we mistook it for some good leatherette at first.

Rear Seats: The rear seats offer a bit more lower-back support, but are otherwise similar to the front. They aren’t a space we’d want to be for an extremely long period of time.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): There is a fair amount road and engine noise in the Lancer. Some more sound deadening equipment would go a long way.

Visibility: Front and side visibility is good. The A-pillars are on the thinner side and looking through turns is a breeze. Seeing out the rear is a bit more difficult, with the shelf behind the rear seats being a little high. The backup camera is helpful when it comes to parking.

Climate: The heated seats and automatic climate control system do a good job of heating up the car when it’s cold out. AC blows ice cold, too.




The Lancer isn’t an unsafe car. However, it fails to achieve top honors from the government and the IIHS. The NHTSA awarded the Lancer a four-star overall rating.

IIHS Rating: The Lancer was not a top safety pick for 2017. This is probably due to the fact that it rated only acceptable in the small overlap front test. It also lacked crash avoidance and mitigation technology. In all other categories it ranked good.

Standard Tech: The Lancer comes with a variety of standard safety equipment, including ABS, active stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, airbags, and LATCH child-restraint system.

Optional Tech: There was no optional safety technology on our tester.




The Lancer offers a fair amount of storage and cargo space. It’s close to but not quite as good as the competition. There’s a few places to stow everyday items in the cabin and the trunk is big enough for several grocery bags or a couple suitcases.

Storage Space: There’s a little bin in front of the shifter that’s good for your phone and a few other items, the armrest compartment is reasonably sized and the cup holders easy to use and well placed.

Cargo Room: The Lancer offers 12.3 cubic feet of cargo space. The Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze offer more space at 13.2 cubic feet and 14.8 cubic feet respectively.

Fuel Economy



EPA estimates claim the Lancer can get 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg highway. Judging by our combined score and the way we drove the car, we believe the EPA’s numbers to be right on the mark in real-world driving situations. That being said, those numbers are pretty poor compared with the competition. For example, the Chevrolet Cruze manages 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway according to the EPA, and the Honda Civic (with the larger engine option) manages 32 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. The competitors do come with smaller engines than the Lancer's 2.4-liter mill, but even the Lancer’s base 2.0-liter engine can’t compete with those numbers.

Observed: We saw an average of 24 mpg over the course of our week with the vehicle.

Driving Factors: We primarily drove the Lancer in the city with some short jaunts on the highway. We were fairly heavy on the throttle when the road and conditions and speed limit permitted.




While we aren’t thrilled with the infotainment system and its various functions and controls, the actual sound coming from the 710w Rockford Fosgate premium audio system with 9 speakers is good. It provides clear sound at various volumes. In fact, it’s one of the better parts of the vehicle. That being said, it didn’t sound much, if any, better than the competition’s setups.

Final Thoughts

The Lancer simply can’t compete in this segment anymore without some significant upgrades in terms of engine, interior materials, comfort and technology. While this car is bound to attract budget-minded shoppers, they’d honestly be better off in a Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze or Hyundai Elantra. Those cars are better in most respects. Mitsubishi will stop producing this model soon. While we’re sad to see it go (it has potential), it’s not a surprise. If you’ve had your eye on the Lancer, you better move fast, but we’re not sure why you choose this vehicle over its competitors.

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