Mitsubishi Lancer:

2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Wins AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact Car

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2009_Mitsu_LancerRalliart.jpgFor the second year in a row, the Mitsubishi Lancer has won the Compact Car segment. Lancer owners have weighed in on the eighth-generation Lancer. They rate it highly, giving it the segment win against worthy competition like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. With a class-leading image, the Lancer looks the part. Attributes for which the Lancer strongly scored include:
• Image and exterior styling
• Safety features that help owners feel safe while driving
• Vehicle dynamics which include fun to drive, handling, braking, power and acceleration
• Lancer is great to look at and a blast to drive


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New York Auto Show 2008 – A Pair from Kia

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Kia‘s New York auto show stage held both concept and production surprises. We believe that the KOUP concept, though too cutely named, hints at the next-generation Spectra. Kia described the KOUP as “closer to production than you might think,” strongly hinting Kia may add the coupe itself. The production surprise was the facelifted 2009 Optima. This new look takes Optima a step forward.

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Kia KOUP: Is there a pocket rocket in Kia’s future?

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2009 Kia Optima gets a fresh look


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2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport: Value Conscious Style

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This month, Suzuki offers new competition for Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Kia Spectra, Mazda3, Mitsubishi Lancer, and Chevrolet Cobalt and replaces the slow-selling Aerio. The SX4 Sport sedan is related to the SX4 Crossover launched last summer, and most distinct from the Crossover in that it carries a trunk and is not available with an all-wheel-drive system. The SX4 family is more competitive than the Aerio hatchback and sedan they replace and continue to offer lots of standard features at a reasonable price point.

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On a hot and muggy August day in Traverse City, Michigan, we had our first drive and spent some time with Suzuki product planners and marketing executives. Suzuki developed the SX4 Sport to be a stylish compact with emotionally rewarding driving experience at an affordable price, but also wanted to bring something new to the market. In many ways, and within the context of the compact segment, they met these goals. The SX4 offers a quirky style and an affordable price, but we did not see where it brings something new or unique to the standard compact sedan formula.
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Steady and Quiet, Rain or Shine
A strong downpour covered the morning and first of our drive, though the sun opened up and dried out the roads over the course of our three-hour drive. The small, narrow SX4 felt as planted during a strong downpour as on dry pavement an hour later. Though a deep puddle tried to swallow the little car, the SX4 would have none of that and pushed through with the determination of a larger vehicle. The SX4 Sport is nimble and offers a manual gearbox with direct action, little slop, and a light but predictable clutch. Though entertaining for a $15,000 ride, the SX4 doesn’t offer as much pure fun as a Mazda3 nor does it feel quite as substantial as the new-for-2008 Mitsubishi Lancer (click for our drive review of the Lancer). It does, however, offer an interior environment surprisingly free of road or wind noise.
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2008 Mitsubishi Lancer – Game Changer

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The all new Mitsubishi Lancer will be introduced at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. While some of us have been lucky enough to drive the car early, Mitsu has embargoed the driving impressions until late January.

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2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Lineup at Ventura County California Press Preview

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Mitsubishi Concept X Show Car

Today, we can reveal a bit more than we could previously. We can actually show you the car. And AutoPacific and VehicleVoice staffers believe that the new Lancer could be a game changer for Mitsubishi in the USA. Mitsubishi stylists benchmarked the Mazda3 and the Alfa Romeo 156 when they began development of the new Lancer. The resulting car projects much more than simply a Mazda/Alfa clone. In fact, the Mitsubishi Concept-X show car telegraphed much of what the new Lancer looks like over a year ago.
Unique Aggressive Front Appearance
We’d describe the front end of the Lancer as very unique with a strong face that is not characteristic of small cars. Mitsubishi describes the front end with much more flowery adjectives… “A ‘shark-nosed’ front end inspired by jet fight air intakes”.
Usually small car styling wimps out to the lowest common denominator. Not the Lancer. It looks contemporary and aggressive. Nicely done. This front end style even meets the European pedestrian protection standards and does it without becoming blunt-nosed.
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From the Side, Lancer Proportions Communicate Small Car – Style Hints More Upscale
In the side view, the Lancer has a sweeping character line from front fender through the doors ending in the rear quarter. Looks a lot like the character of the Acura TL. It is in the side view where the dimensions of the car compromise its proportions. For a car with such an expressive overall style, the wheelbase looks a bit short and the decklid truncated. Not enough to neuter the image of the Lancer, but enough to reinforce that it is a Mainstream Compact Car.
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The fast backlite is a complete departure from the previous Lancer that sacrificed style for package. Here, the short wheelbase and fast backlite result in a rather small rear seat. Mitsubishi planners say the parent company wanted a smaller rear seat to maximize its competitive position in rallying. Huh?


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2008 Mitsubishi Lancer – Mitsu Back on Track

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This article by John O’Dell of The Los Angeles Times appeared in the Sunday December 3 edition. AutoPacific‘s George Peterson is attributed extensively in the article.
Mitsubishi hopes new Lancer gets it back on track

The redesigned compact is seen as crucial to the struggling automaker’s U.S. recovery efforts.

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By John O’Dell, Times Staff Writer
December 3, 2006
Mitsubishi Motors Corp., once a shooting star among the smaller Japanese automakers fighting for space in the U.S. market, needs a hit. Badly.
The company, beset by problems here and at home, has seen its U.S. sales plummet 64% from their high in 2002.
Renowned at one time for cutting-edge design and technology, Mitsubishi was among the first automakers to use four-wheel steering and to offer a convertible sports car with a retractable hard top.
It pioneered the direct-injection gasoline engine, for more power with increased fuel economy; and active “yaw,” or body-roll, controls that keep a vehicle from pitching uncomfortably from side to side on curves.
These days the company is better known for cheap loans and woeful resale values.
“It’s a shame, because they’ve always made good cars,” said industry analyst George Peterson, president of market research firm AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin. “But they lost their image.”


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2008 Mitsubishi Lancer – Story on December 11

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Just returned from the Long Lead Press Preview for the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer as the AutoPacific/VehicleVoice correspondent. With the USA being the lead market for the all new Lancer, there has been a series of story embargoes established. We can’t show you photos of the production car until December 11. At that time we can also describe the car, its specs, etc. Driving impressions are embargoed until January 24. The actual worldwide introduction of the Lancer will be at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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While we can’t officially say anything, the Lancer promises to be the car that re-establishes Mitsubishi in the USA. I think that we can safely say (while honoring the embargo) that the Lancer is a game changing car for Mitsubishi. More distinctive than all other small cars with the possible exception of the 2006 Honda Civic, Lancer will turn heads. Above is a photo of the Concept X first shown at the 2004 Paris Auto Show.
Stay tuned. Intro is late March, 2007. This one’s worth waiting for.


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