Used 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer is one of a few options in the compact car segment that provides all-wheel drive as an option. If you live in an area with a lot of wet weather or snow, that's a definite bonus. Read more to find out what else the 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer has to offer.
What's new for 2016
In an attempt to make the 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer more attractive in a highly competitive segment, the Japanese automaker has added fresh front-end styling, an overhauled CVT and a host of new standard features. Trouble is, this Mitsubishi has been in production for a full decade without a redesign, and it shows. Fuel economy with the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine trails class leaders by a wide margin, while the optional 2.4-liter four is as thirsty as some modern V6s. The Lancer also struggles with basic refinement and ergonomic issues, such as coarse noises from the 2.0-liter engine, mediocre interior materials and a tilt-only steering wheel.
The 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer's advanced age works against it in this hotly contested class.
The Lancer does retain the advantage of available all-wheel drive, an unusual offering that makes it more attractive to buyers in snowy climes. But if it's AWD you're after, the 2016 Subaru Impreza is a better bet. And if you're cool with front-wheel drive, there are many excellent alternatives, including the superb new 2016 Honda Civic, the sleek and fuel-efficient 2016 Mazda 3 and the recently updated 2016 Ford Focus. Ultimately, the 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer may offer appealing features at an attractive price, but it's not close to the head of this class.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer is a small sedan available in four trim levels: ES, SE, SEL and GT.
The entry-level ES comes with the 2.0-liter engine, 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, LED running lights, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, remote keyless entry, automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-only steering wheel, full power accessories, cruise control, a color driver information screen, Bluetooth, Fuse voice controls and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB port.
Although the 2016 Lancer's basic control layout stretches back a full decade, you can still enjoy a number of contemporary features.
The SE adds two-tone alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, a rearview camera, a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and HD radio.
Step up to the SEL trim level and you get automatic headlights, automatic wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded interior trim, leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
The GT throws in 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a sunroof, a rear spoiler, heated front seats, soft-touch trim on the front doors and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system with a subwoofer.
A Sun & Sound package is offered solely on the ES and includes the sunroof, touchscreen display, rearview camera and Rockford Fosgate audio system with satellite and HD radio. Optional on every Lancer trim is a Navigation System package that includes a 7-inch touchscreen. Accessory options include LED foglights and rear parking sensors.
Performance & mpg
The 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer ES is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a CVT is optional. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 30 mpg combined (27 city/35 highway) with the CVT and 28 mpg combined (24/34) with the manual.
The rest of the Lancer lineup is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (optional on the ES) that makes 168 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. The SE and SEL come standard with the CVT and all-wheel drive, and the ES also gets the CVT/AWD pairing when optioned with the larger engine. This powertrain achieves an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined (23 city/31 highway).
The GT gets a five-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive as standard, while its optional CVT is paired with front-wheel drive and features a Manual mode with simulated gear ratios and shift paddles. The manual GT checks in at 25 mpg combined (22/31) with the manual and 27 mpg combined (24/31) with the CVT.
Standard safety features on all 2016 Mitsubishi Lancers include front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Stability control, traction control and antilock brakes are standard across the board. After years of reserving four-wheel disc brakes for higher trim levels, Mitsubishi has thankfully made them standard for 2016. A rearview camera is standard on all Lancers except the ES. Rear parking sensors are sold as an accessory on all trim levels.
In government crash tests, the Lancer received four out of five stars for overall crashworthiness, including four stars for frontal protection and four stars for side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Lancer its top score of "Good" in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset test, the Lancer earned the second highest "Acceptable" rating. Its seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
On the road, the 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer's standard 2.0-liter engine disappoints with its unrefined noises under hard acceleration. Opting for the 2.4-liter four-cylinder improves refinement and increases the fun quotient, especially when paired with the GT's standard five-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy plummets, however. The 2.4-liter Lancer is at the back of the pack in this regard.
The 2016 Lancer is more enjoyable if you get the 2.4-liter engine, but you won't love the fuel economy that comes with it.
The Lancer's suspension delivers confident handling and a decent ride quality. Buyers looking for improved driving dynamics will find the GT model's sport-tuned suspension to be more rewarding, though the larger wheels and tires generate more noise on certain types of pavement.
Inside, the 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer has a look that's rather plain, with gauges and controls laid out in a manner that emphasizes function over form. While there's nothing wrong with that, it bears noting that the abundance of hard plastics cheapens the overall effect. Mitsubishi's voice-activation system, dubbed Fuse, makes it possible to control the audio and navigation systems, but it lacks the flexibility of competing systems. Likewise, while the 6.1-inch center touchscreen operates intuitively, its graphics fall short of the standard set by rival sedans.
The Navigation System package brings this larger 7-inch touchscreen, but its graphics and interface are dated.
Up front, seat comfort is generally good, though tall drivers will likely wish for more thigh support and a telescoping steering wheel. The backseats are surprisingly spacious, with a goodly amount of legroom. The trunk is on the small side, however, with just 12.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity, a number that drops to 11.8 cubic feet with the Rockford Fosgate audio system's subwoofer installed. The 60/40-split rear seatbacks fold down, however, for added cargo-carrying flexibility.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.