Base-model cars gain a new audio system, while Lancer SE AWC, GT, and Ralliart models gain a touchscreen audio system complete with a rearview camera; SE AWC and GT models also get HD radio and SiriusXM. 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution models are left mechanically unchanged but also receive that same touchscreen audio system with HD Radio and satellite capabilities...
When Mitsubishi launched the current Lancer line in 2007, it essentially offered two options -- the base, everyday Lancer, and the hot-and-heavy, all-wheel-drive, turbocharged Lancer Evolution. Since then, the automaker has worked to fill the gap between those two polar opposites. The Lancer Ralliart, which debuted in 2004, offered a detuned version of the Evolution's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a form of its torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. In 2013 a simplified version of that all-wheel-drive system was added to the less expensive Lancer SE AWC, designed to entice buyers seeking all-wheel-drive traction on a budget. The Sportback hatchback joined the range way back in 2004 and rejoined the lineup for the 2010 model year; the Sportback is available in ES and GT forms.
The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer portfolio is perhaps the automotive Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In Evolution guise, the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer is a razor-sharp rally machine. Its power -- 291 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque -- is intoxicating. Its tactile steering, seemingly infinite grip, and wonderful tossability entertain even seasoned driving enthusiasts. A lovely five-speed manual comes with the more basic Evo GSR trim level. The Evo MR trim level's lightning-quick dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is happy to hold gears until redline, may not be for everyone but is still unlike anything south of $80,000. Or, for that matter, unlike almost any other car on the market.
The base 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer, however, doesn't have that last luxury. While the Evolution has only one true competitor -- the Subaru Impreza WRX STI -- the base Lancer itself has to compete against a flood of compact cars. The Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Volkswagen Golf… The list goes on and on and on. That's heady competition -- and as rivals continue to update their C-segment offerings to wow shoppers with new style, new technologies, and new amenities, the Lancer quickly shows its age.
Although it rides and handles fairly well, the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer's biggest problem is one seen in many of Mitsubishi's older models: refinement. Enthusiasts happily accept road noise and buzzy engines in the hard-core Lancer Evolution, but compact-car shoppers are less welcoming. Despite Mitsubishi's attempts to dress up the cabin, the interior is still trimmed with plastics that feel rock hard and look quite cheap.
Although the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer is a solid, decent car -- blessed with fairly sharp steering, we might add -- it simply lacks the finesse and sophistication that's now expected of its segment. As such, it falls toward the back of the pack, even though the wild Lancer Evolution remains near the center of our attention.
- Honda Civic/Si
- Ford Focus/ST
- Subaru Impreza/WRX
- Volkswagen Golf/GTI/R