While the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer offers a sportier ride than more traditional economy cars, nearly all reviewers agree that there are better options in this price range that are equally or more fun to drive. The Lancer's base engine is relatively weak and noisy under acceleration, and the interior quality leaves a lot to be desired. Exterior styling is fresh and unique though, and experts enjoy the step-up models. The Lancer GTS, which retails for $19,495, and the turbocharged Lancer Ralliart, which starts at $27,695, are more expensive but come with the more advanced optional engines and performance-oriented modifications. Also, the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback (Base MSRP: $16,995 to $28,095) is a five-door hatchback that allows for more cargo space. Reviewers say the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer is a decent choice but competitors such as the 2011 Mazda3 (Base MSRP: $15,800 to $23,010) and 2011 Honda Civic (Base MSRP: $15,605 to $25,490) are about the same price and perform better.
Electric steering and brake regeneration are standard in the 2011 Lancer base model. Rear brakes for the base model are cheaper drum brakes. The Lancer can be optioned with a voice-activation system. Other changes involve the rearranging of some standard features in various trim packages.
The addition of electric steering and regenerative braking helps the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer achieve better mileage than the 2010 model, but it's not enough to make estimated fuel efficiency competitive. The base engine gets a combined Environmental Protection Agency mileage rating of 28 mpg, while the more powerful, 2.4-liter four-cylinder gets a combined rating of 26 mpg. The more expensive Ralliart model gets only 20 mpg combined from its turbocharged four-cylinder engine. For comparison, the best-reviewed new 2011 Hyundai Elantra (Base MSRP: $14,830 to $19,980) gets a combined rating of 33 mpg from its standard engine.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety names the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer a Top Safety Pick, meaning it receives top scores for front, side, rear and roof-strength tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn't fully tested the 2011 Lancer, but it does give the car a rating of 4 stars out of 5 for rollover resistance. The Lancer comes standard with side airbags, head curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag, antilock brakes and stability control.
Our report on the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer provides a look at what reviewers are saying. That report is applicable to the 2011 model since so few changes have been made in the interim.
Strong optional engines and good looks are the two primary attributes that the editors of Edmunds.com highlight in this overview. They note that there are other sporty economy cars that are better all-around performers.
Review: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer, Editors of Edmunds.com
2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer has been designated a Top Safety Pick by IIHS. It achieves the best possible scores in the organization's independent safety tests.
Review: Small Cars, Editors of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not have front- or side-crash test results for the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer, but the agency gives it a 4-star rollover-resistance rating.
Review: 5-Star Safety Ratings, Editors of SaferCar.gov
Fuel efficiency is a weak spot for the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer. The EPA-estimated fuel economy for mixed driving is between 20 and 28 mpg, with the 20 mpg figure representing fuel efficiency for the upgraded turbocharged engine in the expensive Ralliart trim. Even the most fuel-efficient engine available for the Lancer can't match the competition in terms of fuel economy.
Review: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer, Editors of FuelEconomy.gov
Since there were few changes to the Lancer for the 2011 model year, our full report on the 2009 Lancer still applies. This report includes opinions and information from a variety of expert sources.
Review: 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer, Editors of ConsumerSearch.com, March 2009