Reports Of Its Death Are Greatly Exaggerated, Or At Least Premature: The 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer 2.4 SEL AWC

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer 2.4 SEL AWC
The 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer 2.4 SEL AWC.
I'm tempted to call this my third annual fond farewell to the Mitsubishi Lancer.  The car...and for a while, its maker...were on life support for the better part of a decade, and the smart money was that the 2014 Lancer would be the last.

And then came the 2015, and the 2016 and now the 2017.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer 2.4 SEL AWD
2017 Mitsubishi Lancer 2.4 SEL AWC.
The problem has been that this is essentially a decade-old car with some retrofitting that has allowed it to be to a greater or lesser extent somewhat competitive.  If that sounds like a lot of qualifiers, it is. The Lancer's highest and best use was as the platform for the pavement-ripping EVO, a street-legal rally car that was as much fun as one can have fully clothed.  And with the EVO dead a few years now, what we have here is an econobox two or three generations behind the competition.  Not bad by any means, generally reasonably priced, and blessed by a captive credit arm that is known for its lenient attitudes toward prospective buyers with less than stellar credit scores.  That last part is responsible for moving as many Lancers as have been moved the past few years.

At best, the word was that Mitsubishi didn't have the development money to replace the Lancer.  At worst, the word was that Mitsubishi didn't have the money, period (especially after its Asian fuel-economy scandal) to continue selling cars here in the United States.  The entire brand was on deathwatch in North America.

But now, Renault-Nissan has bought a 34% interest in Mitsubishi.  Meaning the brand stays and the Lancer could be replaced by a new car in its size class.  Most likely something sold elsewhere in the world as a Renault or Nissan.  There's even talk the EVO could return on that new platform.

Interior view of 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer
2017 Mitsubishi Lancer interior.

Absent an official announcement, though, the Lancer remains in limbo...with the possibility that 2017 could actually be the end.   You can get a base Lancer for $17,795...but our tester was the top-of-the-line 2.4 SEL AWC, which stands for All Wheel Control. That gives the car decent handling.  The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine makes 168 horsepower, is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission and the EPA says it's good for 23 city/30 highway, which based on our experience, is within the realm of possibility.

Base price is $22,095, which gets you some niceties, including leather seating surfaces, auto on/off halogen headlights and rain-sensing wipers.

Ours also had the SEL Sun & Sound Package...a power glass sunroof and a nine-speaker, 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system.  That's an extra $1,500.  And that, with $835 for destination and handling, adds up to $24,430.  That's right in the sweet spot for subcompact sedans these days...and that's for cars that don't have all-wheel drive, a 710-watt audio system and a sunroof.

Our verdict remains the same as when we drove the 2016 Lancer SEL AWC back in February:  It's a strong value if you can overlook the basic car's advancing age.