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2015 Mitsubishi Lancer SE AWC gets high marks for confident handling

The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer needs something to set itself apart from the compact economy sedan crowd. What makes this sedan a good choice?

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The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer sedan does indeed have an advantage over the competition and it’s called All Wheel Control (AWC). None of the competition has it, except for the Subaru WRX (which will cost $6,000 more), and it’s what sets this sedan apart. We won’t overlook this feature and see why a buyer would want it.

What's New for 2015

For 2015, Mitsubishi Lancer only gets a few minor trim level changes, and Lancer sedan carries over unchanged.

The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer SE 2.4L we are testing was a new model in 2012 and uses Mitsubishi's all-wheel drive system called AWC, with the proven 2.4-liter engine making 168 horsepower. This compact sedan is ready for the Snow Belt, and comes standard with cold weather features for extra winter comfort and safety.

Features and options

The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer SE 2.4L AWC SE ($20,995) trim level gets the more powerful 2.4-liter engine over the base 2.0-liter ES model and also comes standard with All Wheel Control, upgraded 16-inch alloy wheels, different styling elements, foglights, heated front seats and a 6.1-inch touchscreen audio interface with a rearview camera and HD radio.

Other standard features include back-up camera, rear heater floor ducts, auto-off halogen headlights, fog lights, heated outside mirrors, HD radio, keyless entry and FUSE hands-free Link System.

The Premium package on this tester ($1,700) added a power sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate premium sound system and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Total MSRP including destination: $23,505.

Interior features

The cabin in the Lancer SE is not quite up to the level of the competition, but the fabric on the seats is high quality and the heated seats are a plus in this price range. There is a fair amount of soft touch surfaces in the cabin that brings up the overall appeal. The front seats are supportive and it’s easy to find the perfect driving position with the adjustable tilt steering wheel.

In the rear, there’s a surprising amount of rear legroom and the rear seats are comfortable for longer trips. Cargo space is slightly less than the standard model at 11.8 cubic feet with the optional Rockford Fosgate stereo (due to the addition of a subwoofer). The optional 710-watt 9-speaker premium sound system sounds terrific and those who like their music loud will want the premium package.

Mitsubishi's Fuse voice-activation system assists in selecting a destination or your favorite music. The touchscreen interface has easily legible commands, but graphics quality falls behind some of the competition.

Engine and fuel mileage specs

The Lancer SE is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder powerplant that produces 168 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. The SE comes standard with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive SE model gets an EPA estimated 22/29 city/highway mpg and 25 combined mpg using regular unleaded fuel.

Lancer Safety

The Lancer compact sedan has been named a "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Lancer SE also features a tire pressure monitor, active stability control, traction control, and a full compliment of airbags. Its one of the safer compact economy sedans. This also translates to the road where confident handling is what sets it apart from the competition.

Driving dynamics

The Lancer SE upgrades to the larger 2.4-liter four cylinder over the base 2.0-liter in the ES. It’s a more desirable engine and has a broader power band at lower revs. The Lancer SE’s 2.4-liter engine gets 20 more horsepower, and it's a big difference when you need it. Even with the CVT that can wind up too tight with a smaller engine, the 2.4-liter is quieter on the highway when we pushed the pedal down for quick acceleration.

The power and torque in the SE is very good for a compact sedan in this segment. We drove the Lancer at altitude in the mountains west of Denver and the small sedan has enough power for most driving situations. We pushed it hard up the interstate and could keep up with the fastest vehicles. The Lancer ES is quiet and smooth on the highway, where 80 mph feels like 70.

Handling is tight and quick in the tight mountain corners, and the ride offers no jolts or surprises. This is due to Lancer’s rally-bred heritage that comes from the Lancer Evolution performance sedan. Lancer SE befits from this technology and gets a MacPherson strut front suspension and Multi-link rear set up.

The Lancer SE was a joy to drive in every situation we encountered, including some light off-road with the all-wheel-drive. Mitsubishi’s AWC or All Wheel Control, incorporates their traction control. It’s a big reason we give the Lancer SE high marks over the front-wheel-drive competition.

Active buyers who live in cold weather climates will want the AWC when the roads get wet, icy or snowy. It will keep the driver and passenger safe and gives the driver confidence in all conditions, wet or dry. The big advantage of Lancer’s AWC is that it can be adjusted by the driver, for 2WD, 4WD and lock. So you can stay in 2WD for better mileage when the pavement is dry. Overall, the Lancer SE is high on the fun-to-drive meter.


For those in the entry-level compact sedan segment, there are plenty of choices for city commuters. There aren’t a lot of choices for active buyers who live in cold-weather climates needing the superior traction of all-wheel-drive. The Subaru WRX is a good choice, but it will cost you 6K more than the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer SE AWC. Lancer’s interior is clean, seating is comfortable and instrumentation is simple. This compact sedan comes with plenty of comfort features and has an attractive price just above $22,000.

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