Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer Overview

Body
The Little Car Big on Space

The Lancer may be Mitsubishi's smallest offering in the U.S., but that doesn't mean it has to skimp on room, value or quality in order to wear the three-diamonds badge. Mitsubishi knows that in order for the Lancer to take on such high-volume champs as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, it must offer more than just a carbon copy of the competition. In terms of interior room, horsepower and price, the Lancer puts forth a genuine alternative for those seeking a more personal form of economical transportation.

The Lancer is available in three trims—ES, LS and OZ Rally—though the suspension and engine remain the same for all. The ES may be the entry level Lancer, yet its content level and rally-car-inspired construction are anything but ordinary. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, 100-watt AM/FM/CD audio, 8-way adjustable driver's seat and a tachometer. That's a pretty impressive list that on some cars would constitute the top-of-the-line model. The next step up is the LS; it adds cruise control, keyless entry, rear-center folding armrest with integral cup holders, six speaker premium audio and a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat. While the LS represents the most luxurious Lancer, the sporting side of the little sedan is left to the OZ Rally edition. Inspired by the Evolution rally car, the OZ features 15-inch OZ wheels, performance tires, front and rear bumper extensions, a rear spoiler and brushed metal interior trim. The OZ looks hot, but we'd really like to see Mitsubishi give it the muscle to back up the look. We know the turbo-charged Evo rally car is on its way to do battle with the Subaru WRX, so maybe Mitsubishi put the OZ here just to whet everyone's appetite for what's about to come ashore.

Slip inside the Lancer and you'll discover an inviting interior that is so refined it could easily have come from an expensive midsized sedan. Your passengers will probably feel it too, especially those in the backseat where the head and leg room almost rivals that of the larger Galant. The dash, door and headliner are all made from high-quality materials and appear rich to the eye and touch. The dash itself is handsomely laid out in a sweeping curve that bulges out where the audio and HVAC controls are and then recedes back to make room for the passenger's knees. The Lancer's bucket seats are also very comfortable, with good side bolstering and a substantial seat cushion that does not leave long legs without proper support.

On the road, the Lancer exhibits its rally-car roots with a taut chassis that remains free from vibration and an equally tight suspension setup. Twisting turns and quick lane-change maneuvers do not phase the Lancer and you'll likely find its effortless ability to dart around objects will have you seeking them out just to get a quick rush. The 5-speed manual is one of the smoothest we've tested and works well with the 130-horsepower 2.0-liter engine. For those who prefer an automatic transmission, Mitsubishi has equipped the Lancer with its adaptive shift technology—another example of a feature usually found in highline vehicles. The Mitsubishi automatic actually monitors the way you drive and learns your patterns. If you are the type that slams the pedal to the floor every time the light changes, the transmission adapts to your jack-rabbit style of driving and sets its shift points higher up in the rpm range, to provide better performance. If, on the other hand, you are more concerned with economy and lightly feather the throttle, the transmission will understand your motives as well and set the shift pattern lower in the rpm range, for optimal fuel economy. In all, it's a very nice setup and the 4-speed automatic is a pleasure to drive.

The Lancer gets a good review from us; we think you'll find its combination of comfort, room and economy a viable alternative to the other small sedans on the market today.

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