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Is the Mitsubishi Lancer a Good Car?

For decades, the Mitsubishi Lancer has been a familiar sight on Canadian roads. This compact sedan’s sporty styling, nimble handling, and reputation for reliability made it a popular choice for drivers seeking an affordable and fun-to-drive vehicle. However, as crossovers and SUVs continue to dominate the market, many shoppers are wondering whether the Lancer still holds up in today’s landscape of high-tech, feature-laden alternatives.


The Lancer’s enduring appeal in Canada stems from its ability to deliver an engaging driving experience at a reasonable price point. With its punchy four-cylinder engines, agile chassis, and available manual transmission, the Lancer offers a level of driving enjoyment that’s increasingly rare in the compact car segment. At the same time, its proven track record for reliability and low ownership costs have made it an attractive option for budget-conscious buyers.


But as the Lancer approaches the end of its production run, its age is starting to show in certain areas. Lacking the advanced safety technologies and infotainment systems found in newer rivals, the Lancer risks feeling outdated to tech-savvy consumers. And while its resale values have always lagged behind segment leaders like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the Lancer’s depreciation has become a major drawback in recent years.


So, is the Mitsubishi Lancer still a good car for Canadians to consider? Or have shifting market trends and the march of progress left this once-popular compact behind? In this comprehensive review, we’ll explore the Lancer’s strengths and weaknesses, examine owner experiences, and ultimately determine whether a used model makes sense for today’s Canadian drivers.

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Fun-to-Drive Personality

One of the standout attributes of the Mitsubishi Lancer is its lively driving experience. While compact and economy-focused, this sedan packs a surprising punch thanks to its willing four-cylinder engines. Whether you opt for the base 2.0L or uplevel 2.4L, the Lancer delivers brisk acceleration and enough power to keep things interesting.

But the fun factor goes beyond just straight-line performance. The Lancer’s chassis is tuned for sporty handling, with responsive steering and well-controlled body motions. Attacking a twisty backroad becomes an engaging and enjoyable experience in this compact sedan. For driving enthusiasts, Mitsubishi offered the Lancer GTS with an upgraded sport suspension, larger wheels and tires, and an active yaw control system to maximize corner-carving prowess.

Perhaps best of all, Mitsubishi gave buyers the option of a slick-shifting manual transmission on most Lancer trims. While the majority chose the convenience of the available CVT automatic, the manual appeals to those who appreciate the involvement and tactility of a third pedal. Overall, the Lancer serves up a healthy dose of driving fun that’s rare for this pragmatic vehicle segment.

 

Proven Reliability Record

One of the standout attributes of the Mitsubishi Lancer is its reputation for rock-solid reliability. According to RepairPal, the Lancer scores a respectable 3.5 out of 5.0 for dependability, placing it above average for the compact car segment. This rating is backed up by countless owner experiences shared across automotive forums and review sites.

Many Lancer owners report their vehicles routinely exceeding the 200,000 km mark with only routine maintenance and no major repairs required. Some enthusiasts proudly showcase odometer readings well into the 300,000+ km range, a testament to the Lancer’s durable engineering and quality construction.

While no vehicle is immune to issues, the Lancer seems to avoid any widespread problems or inherent design flaws that have plagued some competitors. Aside from the typical wear items like brakes and tires, most owners cite smooth and trouble-free operation over years of daily driving. The simple yet proven drivetrain components employed by Mitsubishi contribute to this stellar reliability record.

 

Low Ownership Costs

One of the major selling points of the Mitsubishi Lancer is its low cost of ownership, making it an appealing choice for budget-conscious Canadian drivers. From affordable maintenance and repair costs to reasonable insurance rates and frugal fuel economy, the Lancer delivers big savings over its lifespan.

According to RepairPal, the Lancer scores an impressive 3.5 out of 5 for reliability, with average annual repair costs coming in below the compact car segment average. Common maintenance items like brakes, spark plugs, and filters are inexpensive, and the simple design means mechanics don’t need to spend excessive time on repairs. Many owners report their Lancers easily surpassing the 200,000 km mark with just routine maintenance.

Insurance premiums for the Lancer also tend to be very affordable compared to other compact cars. With no expensive high-tech safety equipment to repair and a reputation for durability, the Lancer presents a lower risk to insurers. Coupled with its low purchase price, insuring a used Lancer won’t break the bank for most Canadian drivers.

At the pumps, the Lancer continues to impress with stellar fuel economy ratings. The 2.0L and 2.4L four-cylinder engines, when paired with the optional CVT automatic transmission, can achieve up to 7.1 L/100km in the city and 5.2 L/100km on the highway based on Natural Resources Canada estimates. Sticking to regular gasoline also keeps operating costs low. Over several years of ownership, the fuel savings add up significantly versus many compact crossovers and SUVs.

 

High Depreciation

One major downside to the Mitsubishi Lancer is its poor resale value compared to rivals like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Lancers depreciate at a much faster rate, making them a questionable choice for buyers who plan to sell their vehicle after a few years of ownership. However, this depreciation curve works in favor of used car shoppers.

Due to the low resale values, the best value proposition for the Lancer lies in the used market. One to three-year-old models can be found at significant discounts compared to their original sticker prices. Buyers should watch for higher mileage trade-ins around the 150,000 km mark, as these represent an affordable way to get into a reliable Lancer for commuting or basic transportation needs.

While resale values are poor, the upside is that used Lancer ownership costs tend to be very reasonable. Repair costs are below average for the class, and insurance rates remain low thanks to the Lancer’s affordable purchase prices and lack of high-performance variants. With some diligent shopping, a low-mileage used Lancer can provide years of economical motoring for a bargain price.

 

Dated Tech and Safety Features

While the Lancer delivers a compelling driving experience and frugal ownership costs, it falls behind rivals when it comes to modern tech and safety equipment. Even the latest 2017 models lack advanced driver aids like automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, or blind spot monitoring that are increasingly common on compact cars.

Base ES and SE trims are particularly spartan, with manual locks and windows, no touchscreen infotainment, and limited connectivity features. You’ll need to move up to the GT or GTS to get amenities like a backup camera, push-button start, and Mitsubishi’s modest touchscreen interface. But even the range-topping GTS lacks Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or any kind of digital instrument cluster.

From a safety standpoint, the Lancer earned decent ratings from IIHS, but only when equipped with the optional forward collision warning system on higher trims. Models without this feature received a “Poor” rating in the small overlap front crash test. So while the Lancer’s rigid construction and plethora of airbags provide competent protection, it clearly trails class leaders in active safety tech.

For buyers who prioritize having the latest gadgets and safety gear, a used Lancer – especially an older or more basic trim – is not an ideal choice. But those who value simple, proven transportation may find the Lancer’s straightforward, no-frills approach to be refreshingly honest in today’s world of overly complex infotainment systems.

 

Canadian Buyer’s Guide for a Used Mitsubishi Lancer

For budget-conscious Canadians in the market for an affordable, reliable, and fun-to-drive compact sedan, a used Mitsubishi Lancer can be an excellent choice. However, with the Lancer spanning multiple generations and trim levels over its production run from 2008 to 2017, it’s important to know which model years and configurations offer the best value.

The sweet spot for most shoppers will be Lancer models from the 2012-2015 period. These represent the facelifted version with updated styling and interior, while still offering the tried-and-true 2.0L and 2.4L engines and drivetrain components from earlier models with a reputation for reliability. Aim for SE, GT, or Ralliart trims, which add desirable features like heated seats, touchscreen infotainment, and sportier suspension tuning.

Pricing on a used Lancer can vary significantly based on mileage, condition, and region. As a rough guide, well-maintained 2012-2015 Lancers with 80,000-120,000 km on the clock tend to sell in the $8,000-$12,000 range from dealerships, or $6,000-$9,000 from private sellers. Paying a bit more for a model under 100,000 km with full service records is advisable.

The earlier 2008-2011 Lancers represent an even better value proposition, though their cabins feel quite dated. Expect to pay $4,000-$8,000 for a 2008-2011 GT or Ralliart model with 120,000-180,000 km showing. Avoid base DE or ES trims which lack power windows/locks and cruise control. While high mileage isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker on a Lancer, any potential purchase should undergo a pre-purchase inspection and have full maintenance records reviewed.

 

Lancer Ownership Experiences

To gain insight into real-world Lancer ownership, we turned to Canadians who have daily driven these compact sedans. Their experiences shed light on the highs and lows of living with a Mitsubishi Lancer.

One owner from Toronto had this to say about his 2010 Lancer GTS: “I was drawn to the sharp styling and sporty handling, and the Lancer delivered on those fronts. The 2.4L engine has plenty of pep for merging onto highways, and the manual transmission is slick and fun to row through the gears. Steering is nicely weighted and the suspension is firm yet compliant over rough city streets.”

However, the same owner noted some shortcomings: “Road noise is quite pronounced, and the interior plastics are hard and cheap feeling. After 150,000 km, I’ve had to replace the clutch and do some suspension work like control arm bushings. Overall reliability has been acceptable, but I wouldn’t call it stellar.”

An owner of a 2015 Lancer SE in Calgary highlighted the sedan’s value proposition: “I was able to get a great deal on a certified pre-owned model with low mileage. The Lancer gives me reliable, economical transportation with good cargo space. It’s not particularly luxurious, but the heated seats and Bluetooth are nice features. I’ve had no major issues after three years of ownership besides routine maintenance.”

Meanwhile, a Vancouver owner was less satisfied with her high-mileage 2008 Lancer: “I bought mine used with 180,000 km for a low price, but I’ve had to put more money into repairs than I would’ve liked. The air conditioning failed, I’ve replaced a few sensors, and it burns a bit of oil. The ride is quite harsh as well. If I had to do it again, I would’ve spent a bit more for a newer, lower mileage example.”

 

Alternatives to the Lancer

While the Mitsubishi Lancer offers a compelling mix of driving fun, reliability, and affordability, there are several other compact cars worth considering as alternatives if you’re shopping for a used model in Canada.

The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are the obvious challengers, delivering superior resale value, more modern tech features, and slightly better fuel economy than the Lancer. Both are safe bets when it comes to long-term reliability and ownership costs. However, they are more expensive upfront and lack the Lancer’s sporty driving dynamics.

If you want livelier performance without compromising practicality, the Mazda3 is a great option. It has a premium interior for the class and precise, athletic handling that makes it genuinely fun to drive. Reliability is on par with the Lancer as well. The trade-offs are higher prices and thirstier fuel economy.

Another intriguing alternative is the Hyundai Elantra, which underwent a major redesign in 2011 that transformed it into a compelling compact sedan. Elantras from this generation boast eye-catching styling, solid build quality, and a great warranty even on older used models. They’re not quite as sporty as the Lancer but offer more passenger space.

For buyers who prefer the versatility of a hatchback, the Volkswagen Golf is hard to overlook. It combines German engineering, an upscale cabin, and a powerful yet fuel-efficient turbocharged engine. While more expensive than the Lancer, the Golf rewards with premium driving manners and impressive cargo flexibility.

 

The Verdict: Is a Used Lancer Right for You?

The Mitsubishi Lancer presents an intriguing used car option for Canadian buyers prioritizing affordability, driving enjoyment, and proven reliability over the latest tech features and highest resale values. While lacking the cutting-edge amenities of newer compact cars, the Lancer shines as an engaging, low-cost runabout that should provide years of trustworthy transportation.

For budget-conscious buyers simply seeking basic, dependable A-to-B motoring, the Lancer’s combination of zippy performance, agile handling, and rock-solid reliability make it an appealing choice. The availability of manual transmissions also gives the Lancer an enthusiast-friendly edge over many rivals. Ownership costs tend to be very reasonable thanks to the Lancer’s low purchase prices, thrifty fuel economy, and relatively affordable maintenance and insurance expenses.

However, the Lancer’s lack of advanced safety tech like automatic emergency braking could be a dealbreaker for families with young drivers. The dated interior appointments and infotainment systems may also frustrate those accustomed to the seamless connectivity of newer vehicles. And while the Lancer’s poor resale values enable great upfront savings, they also mean limited return on investment for owners looking to sell after a few years.

Ultimately, a used Mitsubishi Lancer from the 2008-2017 model years makes the most sense for singles, couples, or empty nesters valuing athletic road manners and dependability over the latest bells and whistles. Target the newest, lowest-mileage examples your budget allows, ideally with a pre-purchase inspection to verify the car’s condition. With reasonable expectations and proper maintenance, the right used Lancer can make for an enjoyable, inexpensive runabout to complement your daily driving needs.

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Questions About The Mitsubishi Lancer

The Mitsubishi Lancer has a fairly decent reliability rating in Canada. RepairPal gives it 3.5 out of 5, which means it ranks 29th out of 36 compact cars. Many Canadian Lancer owners report driving over 200,000 km with proper maintenance. These cars can last quite a long time if cared for properly.

Some common Mitsubishi Lancer problems reported in Canada include:

 

– Slow/failing ventilation system

– Steering pulling to one side

– Brake issues like warped rotors

– Stalling while idling

– Check engine light for oxygen sensor or emission control faults

– Oil leaks from gaskets and seals

– Difficulty starting in cold weather

– Air conditioning compressor failure

 

Proper maintenance and repairs can help minimize many of these common Lancer problems.

The average fuel economy for the Mitsubishi Lancer in Canada is around 8.5L/100km or 28 mpg combined city/highway driving. The base models with 2.0L 4-cylinder engines tend to achieve slightly better fuel economy closer to 8.0L/100km or 30 mpg. The sportier models with larger engines are less efficient, around 9.5L/100km or 26 mpg.

Insurance costs for the Mitsubishi Lancer in Canada typically range between $160-220 per month, depending on factors like driver age and location. Drivers under 25 can expect monthly payments closer to $300 or more. The Lancer offers good value insurance rates due to its low base price and decent safety ratings.

Yes, with a good set of winter tires, the Mitsubishi Lancer performs respectably well in Canadian winters. Its standard all-wheel drive system gives it better traction and control compared to front-wheel drive rivals. Owners praise the stability and handling of Lancer models in cold, snowy conditions.

The most common Mitsubishi Lancer models sold in Canada are:

 

– Lancer ES: Base model with 2.0L 4-cylinder.

– Lancer SE: Mid-level trim with added features.

– Lancer GT: Sport model with 2.4L 4-cylinder making 168 hp.

– Lancer Ralliart: High-performance turbocharged version.

– Lancer Evolution: Track-tuned performance flagship model.

The average price of a used Mitsubishi Lancer in Canada is $10,000-$15,000. 2008-2012 Lancer models with moderate mileage typically sell for around $10k. Newer 2015+ Lancers hold values closer to $15k on the used market currently.

No, the Mitsubishi Lancer is relatively affordable to maintain. RepairPal estimates the average annual maintenance cost at $646. Oil changes, belt replacements, brake jobs and other services can be performed at reasonable costs. The parts are very affordable compared to European brands.

Some pros of owning a Mitsubishi Lancer are:

 

– Good handling and agile driving dynamics

– Available all-wheel drive traction

– Affordable purchase price

– Low ownership costs

– High safety scores

– Reliable if properly maintained

– Sporty styling on higher trims

– Long-term durability

Some notable cons associated with owning a Mitsubishi Lancer include:

 

– Base models have underpowered engines

– Cabin noise is noticeable at highway speeds

– Less cargo room than some compact rivals

– Technology feels dated

– Resale values not very strong

– Brand doesn’t have the best reputation

The Mitsubishi Lancer can make an excellent used car purchase in Canada if you find one with a good service history. These are durable, reliable vehicles that offer good value for budget-focused buyers. Just be sure to have any used Lancer inspected thoroughly before buying to check for issues.

The 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer earned very good safety scores including 5 stars from NHTSA for overall crash protection and 4 stars on most IIHS tests. These ratings make the Lancer one of the safest options in the affordable compact car class in Canada when equipped with the latest safety technologies.

The Mitsubishi Lancer offers about average comfort for the compact segment. While the front seats accommodate most body types well, the rear seat is fairly tight with minimal legroom. Taller passengers may find headroom lacking too. Road noise and bumps are more noticeable in the Lancer than rivals.

The Mitsubishi Lancer scores 3.5 out of 5 from RepairPal for reliability. Many owners report over 200,000 km of reliable service with proper maintenance. Issues like oil leaks, brake wear, electrical faults and emission system problems do occur more frequently as mileage increases. Overall durability is decent but not class-leading.

Buying a lightly used late model Lancer can provide the best overall value. Opting for a 2015-2017 Lancer that’s a few years old with lower miles can save $5k-10k over new pricing. You still get plenty of useful life left while avoiding the steeper depreciation of brand new models.

Yes, insurance rates for younger drivers under 25 can be quite high for the Lancer, often over $300 per month. Compact cars with sporty styling like the Lancer are categorized as higher-risk for inexperienced drivers. Still, it remains far cheaper to insure than high-performance Subarus, VWs, or domestic pony cars.

Mitsubishi has officially discontinued Lancer production as of 2017 for most global markets. However the Lancer is still currently manufactured and sold new in Canada as of 2023, though its future is uncertain. Inventory is extremely limited, indicating the Lancer will likely be phased out in Canada sometime in the next few years.

Yes, when equipped with optional safety features, the affordable Mitsubishi Lancer can be a smart first car for students on a budget. It provides all-season stability plus adequate acceleration for safe highway merging thanks to available all-wheel drive. This practical sedan gets good fuel mileage while requiring lower insurance rates than flashier cars targeted at young drivers. With good winter tires, a used Lancer can be an ideal learner vehicle for Canadian teens and college students.

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