Danielle Villeneuve

Evolved: 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer SE

If you’re looking for a practical and reasonable daily driver, this car has everything you are looking for, plus the on-demand performance of two extra drive wheels.  The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer tends to lurk in the shadows of its more well-known siblings, the sportier Ralliart and Evolution.  The first word out of my mouth while driving this car was not “fun” or “exciting”, but “quirky”.  On the whole, the Lancer has not been changed in a few years.  Its sleek yet square design retains some of the aggression of its steroidal brothers, but costs far less to own and operate.

Mitsubishi Lancer 3

Our test vehicle also came in SE trim with the Premium package.  Outside, it features 16 inch alloy wheels, sunroof, and chrome exterior accents to set it apart from other trims.  Inside, the Premium package adds the Rockford Fosgate audio system, upgraded door trim, heated seats, and leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.  New for 2014, the Lancer gets a reviewer camera.   For a vehicle of this size it seems unnecessary, but they’re in high demand.  We imagine it also helps with the blind spot created by the large wing on other trims.

The interior of the SE is relatively nondescript.  Although simple, the cloth seats are comfortable and didn’t leave you feeling fatigued after an hour drive.  Unlike the front seats, the backseat passengers felt slightly uncomfortable, as if they were reclined at too much of an angle.  The interior may have been designed with simplicity in mind but, as a female, I must mention that the visors need some help.  They aren’t lit and flex in your hands.  The audio interface is designed with ease of use in mind.  The unit is controlled via touchscreen with the exception of the power/volume knob.  Thankfully Mitsubishi realize some things are best left to buttons.  You can navigate seamlessly through inputs and channels.  Let’s not forget the awesome sound system either, the nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate is the same unit found in the Mitsubishi Evolution MR we reviewed earlier this year.  The subwoofer in the trunk does eat up some of the cargo space, but the added bass is worth it.

Mitsubishi Lancer 8

Another great feature is the driver information display in the gauge cluster.  You can scroll through and access all the figures while driving.  The gas and temperature gauges are both digital and clustered together.  They’re clear and added an extra touch of technology which I did not expect to see.  The steering wheel features controls for a Bluetooth phone connection.  However, the SE trim does not come equipped and the accessory add-on needs to be purchased separately.  Its a disappointing oversight that should be included in the Premium package in the hands-free age of driving.

One of the great selling points for the Lancer SE is the All Wheel Control (AWC), Mitsubishi’s all-wheel drive system.  Available only on the SE and Ralliart, the push of a button gives you the ability of switching between FWD and AWD.  In FWD, you benefit from a bump in fuel economy.  We averaged 27.8 MPG during our week of testing, making sure to spend some quality time with the system on.  Switching on the AWC system adds extra grip while driving on slippery or windy roads.  For a daily driver in the Northeast, its a “best-of-both-worlds” solution to the problem of inclement weather.  This is a huge boost for practicality, and the Mitsuibishi system has been battle tested though generations of Lancer Evolutions.  You know you’re getting a solid and reliable setup.

Mitsubishi Lancer 5

The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is something a to get used to, but it does serve the purpose of efficiency.  While driving, the transmission makes various sounds you’d expect from a blender.  Moving from a cruise to acceleration switches the unit from “whip” to “frappe.”  It isn’t quite as refined as the one in the Nissan Altima 35.5 SL we drove earlier.  The 2.4-liter engine makes due with 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque; it may not fly but is sufficient for an every-day car.

The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer SE fits well into its class and knows exactly what it is.  They have succeeded in providing a vehicle that incorporates technology and usability.  The Lancer SE may not be in the spotlight like the other trim levels, but offers equal features with the practicality of an AWD sedan.
-Danielle Assenheimer

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer SE 2.4L AWC $20,695
Premium Package $1,450
Destination Charges $795
As Tested MSRP $22,940

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