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First Drive: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer ES


When thinking of the Mitsubishi Lancer, most car enthusiasts envision a muscular MITSUBISHI EVOLUTION X charging through a remote mountain pass. While the Evo hogs the spotlight--and the imaginations of car nuts -- it is the humble, less aggressive MITSUBISHI LANCER that serves as the halo car's foundation and rules the three-diamond's annual sales sheets. In 2010, the base MITSUBISHI LANCER accounted for 46% of Mitsubishi's total U.S. sales; the Evo only 6%.

For all of its sales significance, the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer ES we recently took for a spin doesn't feel like an automaker's pride, joy, or breadwinner for a number of reasons, particularly in the ES trim. True, the edgy shark-face mug has gained a lot of good and bad criticism since its 2007 Tokyo Motor Show debut, but it hasn't gone under the knife since. (C-segment competitors named Civic, Corolla, and MAZDA 3 have all been face-lifted in some capacity since then.) Bits like its four plastic-covered 16-inch steel wheels wrapped in 205/60-16 Dunlop all-season rubber don't help the exterior's cause much and look terribly small underneath the low-slung body pieces. The look is akin to a weightlifter sporting Hugo Boss dress shoes; the footwear just doesn't match.

For all of its unadorned nature, however, the MITSUBISHI LANCER ES has some notable external attributes. The aforementioned nose, with its color-matched inserts and chrome grille surround, isn't as "loud" as the Evo's louvered example. Plus, the lack of a Gulfstream G6 rear wing makes the ES inconspicuous to law enforcement. Painted door handles and side mirrors differentiate the ES from the lower DE and are an improvement over standard black pieces.

As the second of four trims, the ES arrives with standard essentials like manual air conditioning, cruise control, anti-lock brakes, CD/MP3 four-speaker stereo, 60/40 split folding rear seat, keyless entry and power locks/windows, auto on/off headlights, and front/side/knee airbags. Strap into one of the cushy front seats and you'll notice a plain black cabin replete with cheap-looking hard plastics and bright silver trim pieces.

(Source)


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