The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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November 20, 2012

Road rally technology comes in an affordable Lancer

(Continued)

Power comes from a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 168 horses. It's not an extremely powerful engine — Mitsubishi will be happy to sell you one of those if you've got the money — but it does have a heaping dollop of low-end torque that makes it accelerate quickly off the line. It feels like a healthy, meaty engine.

Fuel economy is rated at 29 mpg on the highway and 22 in town, or about the same as the all wheel-drive Suzuki SX4 I drove a few weeks ago.

The Mitsubishi, though, feels much more substantial. The subcompact Suzuki seemed dinky and lightweight in comparison, but it also came at a lower price.

Inside, the Lancer's cabin is better than average for this class. It feels solid and looks good, but it's not quite to the blow-your-mind level that Hyundai and General Motors have been achieving the past couple of years.

As a whole, I've always thought there was too big a gap between the grocery-getter Lancer models and the pricey, street-racing versions. This new version, the SE, does a good job filling the void.

It offers one of the best parts of the Evolution series — its ridiculously good traction — at a price a lot more people can afford.

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Derek Price is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at carcolumn@gmail.com.

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