Bottom line: The 2011 Lancer Ralliart is an affordable buy for someone who wants excitement in an otherwise mundane midsize sedan that can carry five people. Better buys in terms of design, comfort and finish quality include the Mazdaspeed3, Subaru Impreza WRX and Buick Regal Turbo.
Ride, acceleration and handling: The Lancer Ralliart is not the most comfortable car in its class. The car has a multi-adjustable suspension — you can switch from a “normal” ride to a harder, tighter “sport” mode — but ride feel is mostly choppy, especially on poorly maintained roads.
Head-turning quotient: The styling is deliberately macho — low-slung, menacing, with a grille that looks like an upside-down version of the grille on an Audi A8. The feeling is juvenile.
Body style, layout: The 2011 Lancer Ralliart is a front-engine, full-time-all-wheel-drive midsize passenger sedan equipped with an active center differential, front helical limited-slip differential and rear mechanical limited-slip differential (all used to more efficiently transmit and meter engine power going to drive wheels).
Engine/transmission: The car comes with an intercooled and turbocharged 16-valve in-line 2-liter four-cylinder engine with electronically controlled variable valve timing (237 horsepower, 253 foot-pounds of torque). The engine is mated to a six-speed automated manual transmission.
Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity, with the 60/40 split fold-down rear seats raised is 10 cubic feet. Folding the seats down give you more room for cargo at the sacrifice of rear space for passengers. Gasoline fuel capacity is 14.5 gallons. Premium grade is required.
Mileage: Real-world mileage was 15 miles per gallon in the city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway, also disappointing — and ultimately expensive ($210) on a nearly 1,000-mile run.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; seven air bags, including driver’s-side knee bolster and side and head bags; and tire-pressure monitoring device.
Pricing: The base price of the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart is $27,695. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $26,526. Price as tested is $31,590 including $3,100 in options (leather seating surfaces front and rear; 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate Punch sound system with nine speakers including a 10-inch diameter, trunk-mounted subwoofer; six-disc in-dash CD player with MP3 connectivity; Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlamps; rain-sensing wipers and other amenities) and a $795 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $30,080. Consumer rebates totaling $500 were available at this writing.