Compact car; Built in Japan
  • 4-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,400 – $37,300*

2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Front

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Rear

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Interior

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Profile

  • Acceleration (Evolution and Ralliart)
  • All-wheel drive (Evolution, Ralliart)
  • Fuel economy (Except Evolution, Ralliart)
  • Steering/handling (GTS, Ralliart, Evolution)
  • Acceleration (CVT)
  • Engine noise
  • Interior materials
  • Ride (GTS, Ralliart, Evolution)

Regular Lancers ride and handle well enough, but cost cutting is evident in too many places (especially inside the cabin) for this to rank as a strong value. These small sedans haven’t raised the bar for roominess or refinement. Their engines lag in power and refinement. Mitsubishi’s record of weak resale values didn’t help Lancer’s cause as a new car, but could be a bonus for used-car shoppers. Evolution models are strong performers that aren’t too punishing on the street, but high prices limit their appeal. Addition of the Ralliart aimed to bridge the gap between Evolution and other models in terms of performance, but it didn’t really address other criticisms of the Lancer line.


All Mitsubishi Lancers were redesigned for 2008, and the Lancer Evolution made its return to this Japanese brand’s small-car lineup. Each model was larger in all dimensions compared to the 2002-06 versions. Front-wheel-drive Lancer DE, ES, and GTS trim levels were offered, with a 152-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a choice of a five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The high-performance Lancer Evolution had all-wheel drive and came in GSR and MR trim levels, each with a 291-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. GSRs had a five-speed manual transmission; MRs had a six-speed automatic.

Standard safety features included front side airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, and curtain side airbags. Antilock brakes were optional for the Lancer DE, but standard on upper models. Evolutions included an antiskid system. The GTS had a firmer suspension and sporty body trim. Lancer GTS and Evolution MR were available with a touch-screen navigation system and a 30-gigabyte hard drive for storage/playback of digital audio files. Mitsubishi’s regular Lancer models competed against the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and Mazda 3.

Yearly Updates

2009 Lancer
A new Ralliart model joined the 2009 lineup with all-wheel drive and a 237-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Only the six-speed automatic transmission was offered for the Ralliart. A new 168-hp, 2.4-liter engine went into the front-drive GTS model. Most models could have a navigation system and hard drive.
2010 Lancer
The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback marked the return of a 4-door hatchback body style to this compact-car lineup. Sedan versions of Mitsubishi’s smallest car continued without any major changes for 2010.
2011 Lancer
The 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback roster expanded to include a lower-cost ES Sportback hatchback.
2012 Lancer
The 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer lineup added an all-wheel drive SE sedan with a 2.4-liter engine and deleted the Sportback Ralliart. Also, the Sportback GTS was renamed GT. Newly optional were a rearview camera and rear-obstacle detection.
2013 Lancer
The 2013 Lancer SE sedan saw a couple minor feature tweaks for 2013. The Sportback and Evolution models were unchanged.
2014 Lancer
Lancer sedans saw only minor trim changes for 2014. The base DE trim level went away, leaving the ES as the entry-level model. Also, the SE added some standard equipment: HD Radio, satellite radio, and a rearview camera. Lancer Sportback saw only minor trim changes for 2014. The GT added new standard equipment: HD Radio, satellite radio, and a rearview camera. Also, a rear spoiler was now standard on both the ES and GT. The Evolution received a new touchscreen stereo system with HD radio and satellite radio.


transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

Regular Lancer models hold a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 152 horsepower, driving either a five-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Lancer Evolution gets a turbocharged, 291-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder, with either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. For 2009, the new Ralliart got a 237-horsepower turbocharged engine, and a new 168-horsepower 2.4-liter four went into the front-drive GTS. Lancer Evolution and Ralliart models have all-wheel drive, as does the new-for-2012 SE; other Lancers are front-drive.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 152
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 146
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
CVT automatic

dohc I43
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/144
Engine HP 168
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 167
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
CVT automatic
Turbocharged dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 237
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 253
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic


Turbocharged dohc I42
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 291
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual



1. Ralliart. 2. Evolution. 3. 2009 GTS.

Road Test

The 2.0-liter 152-horsepower Lancers have only adequate pickup with the manual transmission, and they’re borderline sluggish with the CVT. All feel weakest when pulling away from a stop. Models with the 2.4-liter engine are stronger in all situations. Ralliart is robust once underway. Upshifts and downshifts are quick and timely, whether in automatic mode or shifted manually. In the “Sport” setting in automatic mode, the transmission holds each gear longer. That may help in spirited driving, but it’s too rough for commuting and bad for gas mileage. Evolution models have more than adequate power before the turbocharger kicks in; once it does, Evo rockets ahead. The GSR’s shifter has positive action, and the clutch is as stiff as expected. That can frustrate in around-town driving.

Fuel economy is appealing in lesser Lancers. Models with the 2.0-liter engine and manual shift averaged 25.7 to 27.2 mpg. A GTS with CVT averaged 24.7 mpg; an Evolution GST, 20.0 mpg; and an Evolution MR, only 17.9 mpg. Non-turbo versions use regular-grade fuel, but turbos require premium.

Ride quality varies by model. DE and ES Lancers are absorbent and capable thanks to smart suspension tuning, a very solid-feeling structure, and sensible 16-inch tires. The GTS rides stiffly due to its firmer sport suspension and 18-inch rubber. Ralliarts are firm but never punishing. Evolutions are firmer still, with the MR exhibiting some harshness at times. For its level of handling prowess, however, that may be a worthy tradeoff.

DE and ES models provide decent grip, but steering is not especially direct or communicative. The tauter GTS is more agile and fun. Evolutions shine in handling with quick steering, tenacious grip, and anchor-like brakes-though these models suffer from a wide turning radius. Ralliart is less sharp on-center than Evolution, but offers more accurate feel than the rest of the lineup. Overall Ralliart feels less high-strung around town than either Evolution. Strong-feeling brakes deliver smooth, short stops, but all models are prone to nosedive during braking, with DE and ES feeling especially unsettled.

Wind noise is well checked, but coarse-surface tire thrum is fairly high in all models. Lancer’s crude engine note is a sore point, and it’s especially intrusive in rapid acceleration or at higher speeds. In Evolutions, engine noise is masked somewhat by a sporty whistle from the turbocharger.

In the main instrument pod, a large, clear speedometer and tachometer flank a smaller, less-legible electronic information display. Climate controls are large and simple but a bit low for easy access. Some testers have found the audio system’s controls to be an uncomfortable reach and its dashboard screen hard to read in sunny conditions. Lancer’s touch-screen navigation system unfortunately also absorbs most audio functions, complicating what should be simple adjustments; but the system is easy enough to learn and program.

Cabin decor is solid enough, but materials are nothing special. Cost cutting is evident in many places. Lancer’s doors close with a tinny clang, and were improperly hinged on one test car.

Front-seat headroom and legroom are sufficient for six-footers. Ralliart and GTS sport seats hug nicely to hold you in place during fast turns. Seats in lesser models are unexceptional for shape and support. A height-adjustable driver’s seat has been standard in all but the Evolution, but high windowsills still impart a slightly closed-in feeling. Outward visibility aft and to the right rear isn’t great, with the rear view especially obscured by the enormous rear spoiler installed on some models. Evolution seats have even more bolstering, which is appropriate for racetrack driving, but may be too confining for everyday use.

Rear seating is supportive, but space is cozy for two medium-size adults, let alone three. Headroom is good, as is legroom. Entry/exit is a bit tight though acceptable for this class.

Lancer’s trunk has a useful shape, but isn’t that large. It’s slightly smaller in Evolution models. Trunks also lack height for taller cargo, as does the trunk opening. Useful cabin storage includes large front-door map pockets with bottle holders.


Model Tested: 2009 Lancer GTS w/CVT

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 4
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 3

Total: 44


4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.7 180.4 69.4 59.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
52.7 15.3 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.7 180.0 69.4 58.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.6 15.3 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.6 36.9 42.2 36.1
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.3 177.0 71.7 58.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
6.9 14.5 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.6 36.9 42.5 33.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 4


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Keyless entry
Description: The keyless operation function may be lost if the FAST key is erased by interference form another electronic device such as a cell phone and a revised unit is available. (2008-09)
Oil leak
Description: Oil leak may develop on 2.4L engine where timing chain cover meets engine block. (2008-09)
Software problems
Description: The engine may not start, or may start if the gas pedal is depressed requiring reprogramming the engine control computer. (2008-09)

Recall History

2008-09 Lancer
Description: Incorrect material composition of brake booster check valve may cause it to stick closed when engine is shut off; in very slow maneuvers, initial braking assist could be insufficient.
2008-09 Lancer
Description: For vehicles equipped with turbocharged engines: The manner in which the fuel return pipe is attached to the engine, in combination with frequent vehicle operation at certain engine revolutions, may result in fuel leakage and could cause a fire. The fuel return pipe will be replaced with a new part and two additional attachment brackets will be installed free of charge.
2008-09 Lancer
Description: For vehicles originally sold in or currently registered in the states of: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. In areas where heavy road salt is used in the winter, a long-term exposure to a mixture of snow and salt on the road may cause the mixture to adhere to the front impact sensors. This coating over time may cause corrosion of the sensor. In the event of a vehicle crash, the airbags may be delayed by a short circuit resulting in passenger injury. Dealers will install new front airbag sensors that have improved corrosion resistance.
2008-13 Lancer Evolution
Description: Certain 2008 through 2013 model Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution vehicles made between December 12, 2007 and March 5, 2013 may have clutch master cylinders that can fail.
2014 Lancer Evolution and Lancer Ralliart
Description: Certain 2014 model Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart vehicles made after January 31, 2014 may have a right parking brake cable that can contact the fuel tank and wear away the tank’s protective coating.
2014 Lancer Evolution and Lancer Ralliart
Description: Certain Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution vehicles made between January 31, 2014 and February 21, 2014 and Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart vehicles made between February 3, 2014 and February 14, 2014 may not have enough clearance between the power steering pressure tube and a crossmember brace.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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