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2009 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

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The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS suffered from a lack of purpose.  When compared to other compact cars, the suspension was too stiff to provide a nice ride and the fuel economy was uncompetitive at best.  When compared to sport compact cars, the GTS lacked sufficient power.  The new 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS seeks to rectify these problems and set the car firmly in the sport compact market, but does it succeed?

The 2009 GTS gets a slight upgrade in the engine department.  The 2.0-liter four-cylinder from the 2008 model has been replaced with a 2.4-liter engine that produces 153 horsepower, up 15 from last year.  The engine provides a respectable 146 lb-ft of torque, which provides decent acceleration but nothing shocking.  The hard suspension from last year’s model remains largely intact, but that’s not a bad thing.  Now that the GTS is firmly considered a sport compact, the suspension feels right and offers adequate handling.

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The fuel economy is also unchanged, providing 21 mpg city/28 highway.  This is largely in line with other sport compact models, so it is neither a great selling point nor a deal breaker.  The 2009 model has gained 55 pounds over the 2008 model, but the increase is hardly noticeable.  The only time you’d really see the impact is in 60-to-o mph stopping distance, but even then the difference would only be a 2-3 feet.

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So is the Lancer GTS a worthy car?  That’s a difficult question.  The sport compact market is currently ruled by the Civic Si, which has all of the performance of the GTS and then some.  The GTS does start in the mod-$19k range and the Si starts around $22,000, so the Lancer has a slight edge there.  However, once you start adding on a few options to the GTS, you’ll get into the Si price range pretty quickly.  If you’re looking for a sport compact, test drive the Civic Si first and then judge all subsequent cars off of that price and performance point.  For some, the Lancer GTS provides the right style and performance for the price, while for others, paying an extra few thousand for the Si is the way to go.

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