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Used Mitsubishi Lancer 2007-17 offer value and reliability

Mitsubishi Lancer
Mitsubishi Lancer

MITSUBISHI'S Lancer has been part of the Australian automotive landscape for more than 40 years but its time as a local small car favourite is ending as it's finally withdrawn from sale.

The ageing Lancer is loved by P-platers, modifiers, rally wannabes and grannies alike. New examples are still in showrooms today at just over $20,000 drive-away, the price when the current eighth generation launched in 2007, and it's still selling despite rivals building more advanced alternatives.

Its value for money helps and that's mirrored when considering a good pre-loved version, for which you can pay as little as $5000.

Mitsubishi Lancer: Current eighth generation arrived in 2007
Mitsubishi Lancer: Current eighth generation arrived in 2007

Many owners heap praise on their Lancers, noting sharp design, decent size, drive comfort and reliability as positives.

Plenty are not happy though. Common grumbles include cheap build quality, peeling clear coat on the paint, road noise and thirst, plus a known anti-lock brake module problem that can result in costly repairs.

We'll overlook the turbocharged Lancer Evo and Ralliart, the niche rally-inspired weapons that are a world away from the vanilla Lancers.

Mitsubishi usually added new style and kit for each model year, so later models, even at entry level, were quite generously appointed.

In late 2007 grades kicked off with the ES, followed by VR and sporty VRX. All used a
2.0-litre four-cylinder (113kW/198Nm) with five-speed manual or continuously variable transmission, with paddle-shifters in the VRX.

All but the ES had alloy wheels (until 2014). The VRX added sport-tuned suspension and bigger wheels and brakes.

Standard on all were electric windows, CD/MP3 and cruise control. The VR got extra airbags, rain-sensing wipers, fog lights, lip spoiler, leather steering wheel and six-CD stacker and VRXs had a rear spoiler, sport seats, smart key entry and Bluetooth.

A Sportback (hatchback) Lancer arrived in 2009 in the same grades but it trailed the sedan in sales.

Well appointed: Lancer gained kit with each new model year
Well appointed: Lancer gained kit with each new model year

A range-topping Lancer Aspire also landed with chrome body accents, leather seats, wood trim, satnav and premium audio. It had a zestier 2.4-litre engine, as did the VRX from 2009.

The 2010 models all had seven airbags and there were RX and ACTiV special editions.

For 2011 an SX model sat between ES and VR and a handy USB port and colour LCD display arrived for all.

The following year, all but the ES were fitted with reversing cameras.

The line-up swelled again in 2012 with the Platinum - an ES with goodies such as leather heated power seats - and in 2013 an LX did likewise. Bluetooth was now standard across the range.

By 2014 the VRX became the XLS (don't ask …) and the P-plater favourite, the ES Sport cheapie got a spoiler and a starting price of $18,990. The Sportback dropped to one variant - the GSR with the 2.4-litre, sports suspension and styling plus 18-inch wheels.

A proper facelift came in 2016 with new bumpers, grille and LED running lights joined by reworked cabins and fresh alloy wheel designs. But the model was fundamentally a decade old.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Target Lancers with any balance of Mitsubishi's five-year/160,000km warranty, simply for peace of mind.

When testing, look for the anti-lock and/or stability warning lights staying on or flickering. This is a common fault with the car's ABS pump module, potentially costing thousands to fix.

The CVTs are a bit whiny as a rule but if you find one is particularly noisy, clicky or juddery look elsewhere.

Lancer Sportback: Styling flair but it trailed the sedan in sales
Lancer Sportback: Styling flair but it trailed the sedan in sales

Some owners criticise the Lancer's uncomfortable seats, road noise and the cheap feel of plastics and doors. Check that you can tolerate these.

As the Lancer has been around a long time, check any example you're considering has had the required recall work - there have been at least 10 recalls (view productsafety.gov.au).

IAIN SAYS

3.5 stars

Workable cabin: Seats and plastics are utilitarian
Workable cabin: Seats and plastics are utilitarian

Good size, decent reliability and attractive looks make the Lancer an appealing small car target if you don't expect a Benz-like fit and finish. Watch for ABS and CVT problems. Target later cars with some warranty intact and these stalwarts look strong value.

OWNER SAYS

RON HOLLIDAY: Our two Lancers, ES autos, were bought second-hand and we have been very happy with the performance, reliability, economy and comfort of both. Average fuel consumption was in the 8L-9L/100km range. We still have one as a daily drive. The cost of regular servicing is modest, there have been no major issues and we've never even had to top up the engine oil. The cabin has held up exceptionally well and the paint and alloys are still shiny. Brakes and transmission have been trouble-free. Country trips are comfortable but at highway speed you are aware of the engine doing its job. Airbag recall work was done by the local dealer without fuss. It is interesting to note the number of these Lancers still on the road.

 

THE EXPERTS SAY

Plenty to choose from: The CJ series Lancer sold more than 140,000 examples
Plenty to choose from: The CJ series Lancer sold more than 140,000 examples

The completely new Lancer in 2007 was first available as a sedan only. Safer than the previous model, the Lancer was also better equipped, so prices rose. Hatches joined the range later.

It's one of Mitsubishi's more successful models here. More than 140,000 CJ Lancers were sold during the 10 years to the end of 2016. Its best year was 2010, the tally exceeding 23,000.

The ES Sport is the most common among used listings, accounting for about three out of 10. Reflecting its price when new, the Aspire is the rarest.

The base ES manual from 2007 ($20,990 new) is worth $5100 in good condition. The flagship VR-X with CVT ($31,490 new) is valued at $7800.

For the 2016 ES Sport ($19,500 new), pay $15,350 and the GSR Sportback with CVT ($24,000 new) is now $18,950.

Small car rivals include the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30. As the Lancer sold in large numbers to rental fleets in particular, retained value hasn't held up well against the competition, making a privately owned example a good buy. Against the 2016 i30, the Lancer fares better but still trails the Mazda3 and Corolla for resale. - Red Book

 

MITSUBISHI LANCER 2007-17

PRICE NEW $18,990-$33,490

SAFETY 3 or 7 airbags, 5 stars (cars without side airbag, 4 stars)

ENGINES 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 113kW/198Nm; 2.4-litre 4-cyl, 125kW/226Nm

TRANSMISSION 5-speed man, CVT; FWD

THIRST 6.8L-8.7L/100km

Topics:  car advice mitsubishi lancer motoring motoring advice used car