Mitsubishi Lancer
(2007 - 2015)

  • Huge range of variants and models to choose from
  • No nonsense, simple and practical used car option
  • Refined and responsive power plants
  • Decent ride and handling
  • Build quality and reliability can vary widely between examples
  • Paint wear and tear is becoming an issue across the range
  • CVT drone and reliability can vary greatly
  • Not as convincing as others at this price point
Overview

The Lancer nameplate has been on – and off – the Aussie landscape since the early 1980s, with some early examples having now traded hands in the used market with long and patchy providence. It’s renowned as one of the most archetypal of affordable grocery getters and for good reasons: they’re generally cheap and, being fairly well-built with Japanese origins, deserve their reputation for reliability.

The ninth generation, or CJ, was the last. At least for most markets such as Australia (Lancer lives on in some questionable form in Asia). It arrived in 2007 and formally exited in 2017. According to one popular general knowledge website, Mitsubishi Australia stockpiled as many as it could get right before the death knell, that coincidentally marked the passing of the much-loved Evo performance cult car.

As a surrogate replacement for the defunct 380 and, to an extent, Magna, it was important car and it sold a bucketload, at times in the top ten by volume in Oz. Today, the ‘boxiest’ Lancer ever is ripe for used picking, still fairly fresh and somewhat contemporary, still priced nicely for value in dependability.

The mainstream versions stuck true to a time-honoured formula: four or five doors, front drive, equipped to pander to needs more than wants and sized generously enough to double duty as a small family hauler. The CJ, for its part, is longer, wider and a fair bit roomier than its forebear, with a bit more semi-Euro flair in styling for what was once one of motoring’s blandest designs.

It launched in three trim levels: base ES (from $21k), mid-strength VR (from $25k-ish) and a sport-infused VR-X (from $29k). You could have a choice of five-speed manual or, at around $2300 extra, a CVT auto.

The cheapy ES did bring mod cons such as air-con, a CD player, cruise control and power windows, while the step up to VR added a CD stacker, climate control, alloy wheels and auto wipers and headlights. The VR-X plies 18s, sports seats and bodykit, Bluetooth and high-end audio.

Power throughout the range comes from a tried-and-true ‘4B11’ 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four with a decent 113kW and 198Nm that runs on cheap 91RON with pleasing mid-seven-claimed fuel economy. Worth a mention is that the manuals are quite a bit quicker in performance than the CVTs.

Sedan lobbed first with Sportback hatches arriving in 2008 and before long Activ, Aspire, RX, SX versions and even sticker packs such as the Olympic Edition (of that year) would surface.

Of course, the halo variants were the turbocharged, all-wheel-driven Evolution models, offered in five-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch forms in regular or MR trim levels, priced between $60k and just over $72k.

The Evo X deserves its own long-form overview, the 217kW/366Nm sedan-only breed the last of a long line of rally-bred head-kickers if without quite the mojo, or the cred with diehards, that its predecessors had and continue to enjoy.

Sat between the Evos and the bread and butter was the Ralliart, available from MY09 in sedan or hatch body styles, its 177kW and 343Nm turbo four with DCT and AWD offering spirited, WRX-rivalling performance for a palatable $43k price.

More choice? Again for MY09, the top end of the range – VR-X and new flagship Aspire ($35k) – was offered with a larger-capacity 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four good for 125kW and 226Nm. Both grades bring high levels of equipment though the Aspire’s extra $1700 ask brought leather trim and other goodies. That said, reversing cameras and sat-nav didn’t make appearances in the CJ Lancer until 2012 and 2013 respectively.

A good five-year warranty and solid five-star ANCAP safety rating ensure Lancer remains popular while the nameplates lobbed – such as GSR – and left. Specs and equipment were constantly changed and updated as the CJ mature and its fast-aging underpinnings soldiered on.

So while the late-gen stuff struggled to stack up new close to its 2017 demise, there’s a vast choice of CJ Lancer options on the used market. And the naturally aspirated stuff, in particularly, represents uncomplicated, reliable and sound motoring as used propositions today.

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What goes wrong
  • Many models are suffering from the paint peeling or fading and are quite susceptible to stone chips even in terms of  the front wheels flicking rocks up onto various body panels.
  • There are reports that the tail lights on specifically 2011 examples have been known to actually catch fire
  • In terms of keyless entry equipped models, the key does not respond well to being in close contact with mobile phones or anything producing a magnetic field. Some owners have found that electronic interference from other sources like a phone will wipe the key’s electronic data if the key is in your pocket or bag next to your phone. It should be noted a revised key is available.
  • The air conditioning is known to have issues, when cold is selected it may not blow cold air. Sometimes this just needs re-gassing but the blower or fan motor can also have some issues as well. This can be labour intensive to fix.
  • The leather seats are known to wear quite quickly, most notably the foam that makes up the base of the seat. They can be reupholstered but sometimes the cheaper option is to replace the seat all together.
  • Engine wise, the 4B11 and 4B12 were the modernised replacements for the tried and tested 4G63 family of engines. It’s a lighter and more powerful engine and overall, properly maintained units are fairly reliable.
  • They can suffer occasionally from MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Electronic Control) solenoids playing up and some earlier models can have timing chain and tensioner complications. A timing chain kit can be purchased for around $350 (AUD) and takes a few hours to install, all up (including oil and filter replacement) should cost less than $1000 to resolve.
  • The ABS control module or ABS pump is a very common problem with these Lancers. In Australia, at the moment the genuine Mitsubishi replacement unit is around $2800, or at least it would be if you could actually get one as they have been on back order almost indefinitely. In some cases they can be repaired for around half that amount or you could try sourcing a second hand unit however that can be tricky as it’s critical to match part numbers or it will not work properly.
  • The Jatco CVT transmission does have quite a bad reputation for being unreliable but when serviced correctly, statistically the actual number of serious issues they have when compared to the huge numbers of these cars on Australian roads suggest otherwise.
  • The recommended service intervals for the transmission under normal conditions is every 90,000kms and the recommended service intervals for for adverse conditions is 45,000kms. What many don’t realise is that stop start city traffic is regarded as adverse conditions and therefore servicing the transmission every 45,000kms is essential if you want it to last.
  • We should also mention, these Lancers have received a long list of various factory recalls, some of them regarding some genuinely safety issues so if you are in the market, please make sure any factory recalls have been resolved.
Model range, pricing & features

ES

  • Price when new: $19,990 - $24,490
  • Price used: $4,000 - $18,000

Launched in October 2007, the CJ Lancer ES model was the base model of the Lancer range featuring a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder engine mated to either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed CVT.

The ES model received several updates throughout the model’s life adding additional airbags in January 2010 and upgrading its’ safety rating from four to five stars, as well as electric power steering in October 2011 and then 16-inch alloys, LINK audio system, keyless entry and new seat fabrics in August 2013.

The ES model was replaced in April 2014 by the ES Sport model.

Standard features:

16-inch steel wheels
Body coloured bumpers, door handles and side mirrors (partial)
Tinted windows
Independent front and rear suspension
ANCAP 4-star safety rating
3 airbags: driver and front passenger and driver’s knee airbags
Three-point (lap/sash) seatbelts for all passengers (5x)
Front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Brake assist (BA)
Electronic stability control (ESC)
Traction control
Remote central locking
Immobiliser
Cruise control
Trip computer
Intermittent windscreen wipers
Multifunctional steering wheel
Steering wheel – tilt adjustable
Air conditioning
Electric mirrors
Electric windows – front and rear with driver’s auto up/down
Cloth seating trim
Height adjustable driver’s seat
4-speaker sound system
CD player
MP3 compatibility
12V power outlet
Sunvisor with vanity mirror for driver and front passenger
Front cup holders
Rear cup holders
60:40 rear folding seats

September 2009 updates:
Electronic stability control (ESC) system update
Additional floor console storage compartment
Lidded cupholder

January 2010 updates:
7 airbags: driver and front passenger, driver’s knee, front side and full-length curtain airbags

September 2010 updates:
Brake assist (BA) system update

October 2011 updates:
Chrome-plated inner door handles
Dark silver decoration panels
Electric power steering
New seat fabrics

August 2013 updates:
16-inch alloy wheels
LINK audio system
Keyless entry
New seat fabrics

ES Sport

  • Price when new: $18,990 - $22,640
  • Price used: $9,500 - $21,000

The ES Sport model debuted in April 2014 and replaced the ES as the base model.

In addition to the ES:

16-inch alloy wheels
Rear spoiler
Ralliart-style grille
Emergency stop signal
Cruise control
Climate control air conditioning

Platinum

  • Price when new: $21,690 - $24,190
  • Price used: $7,000 - $17,000

The Platinum model (not to be confused with the VR Platinum Edition) was released in January 2012 as a limited-run model.

It was based on the ES base model and added several cosmetic and comfort features such as: alloy wheels, chrome exhaust tips, reversing camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats, steering wheel audio controls and bluetooth connectivity.

In addition to the ES:

16-inch alloy wheels
Rear spoiler (sedan only)
Chrome exhaust tips
“Platinum” badging
Rear parking sensors
Reversing camera (displayed in rear view mirror)
Leather upholstery
Heated front seats
Steering wheel audio controls
Bluetooth connectivity
Voice commands

Activ

  • Price when new: $21,690 - $25,790
  • Price used: $5,500 - $15,000

The Activ model was a limited-run model released in March 2010 and then in April 2012.

In addition to the ES:

16-inch alloy wheels
Rear spoiler
Chrome exhaust tips
“Activ” badging
Rear privacy glass
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Bluetooth connectivity

RX

  • Price when new: $21,990 - $24,490
  • Price used: $6,000 - $13,000

The RX model was a limited-run edition released in March 2010 with cosmetic features.

In addition to the ES:

16-inch alloy wheels
Rear spoiler
“RX” badging

LS

  • Price when new: $20,990 - $22,990
  • Price used: $9,000 - $16,000

The LS Sport was released as part of the April 2014 update, and built on the ES Sport by adding paddle shifters (CVT only), reversing camera, 6.1-inch infotainment display, leather upholstery, electric driver’s seat and an electrochromatic rear view mirror.

In addition to the ES Sport:

Steering wheel paddle shifters (CVT only)
Reversing camera
6.1 inch infotainment system display
Leather upholstery
Electrically adjustable driver’s seat
Electrochromatic mirror

GSR

  • Price when new: $21,990 - $25,240
  • Price used: $11,000 - $21,000

The GSR was the only model made available as part of the April 2014 facelift/updates for the Sportback model.

In addition to the ES Sport features, the GSR featured rear privacy glass, rear spoiler, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and alloy pedals.

GSR models were also fitted with hydraulic power-assisted steering (as opposed to electric power steering) for a sportier/direct feel.

In addition to the ES Sport:

Hydraulic power-assisted steering
Rear privacy glass
Rear spoiler
Automatic headlights
Rain-sensing wipers
Alloy pedals

SX

  • Price when new: $22,490 - $25,290
  • Price used: $6,000 - $16,000

The SX is the second model up from the ES, introduced in 2010 and added 16-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, leather-wrapped steering wheel and handbrake lever and steering wheel audio controls. The model was phased out in 2011.

In addition to the ES:

16-inch alloy wheels
Rear spoiler
ANCAP 5-star safety rating
7 airbags: driver and front passenger, driver’s knee, front side and full-length curtain airbags
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Leather handbrake lever
Steering wheel audio controls

September 2010 updates:
Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity

LX

  • Price when new: $22,990 - $26,240
  • Price used: $7,000 - $18,000

The LX was introduced in 2012 and ran until 2014 and replaced the VR model. It added additional comfort features.

In addition to the ES:

16-inch alloy wheels
Hill start assist (CVT transmission only)
Reversing camera
Rear parking sensors
Climate control air conditioning
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Leather handbrake lever
Electrically adjustable driver’s seat
Leather upholstery
Heated front seats
6.1 inch infotainment system display
Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity with voice recognition and audio streaming

April 2014 updates:
Front fog lights
6-speaker sound system

VR

  • Price when new: $25,290 - $29,290
  • Price used: $5,500 - $13,000

The VR model added additional styling features, convenience and comfort features to the SX model. The VR model was discontinued August 2012 along with the Aspire model.

In addition to the SX:

Side skirts
Chrome exhaust tips
Automatic headlights
Front fog lights
Rain-sensing wipers
6-speaker sound system
6-disc in-dash CD player

September 2010 updates:
Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity

October 2011 updates:
Reversing camera (displayed in rear view mirror)

30th Anniversary Edition

  • Price when new: $26,390 - $26,890
  • Price used: $5,500 - $13,000

To celebrate Mitsubishi Motor’s 30 years in Australia, Mitsubishi released the 30th Anniversary Edition in November 2011 and added luxury touches such as chrome boot accent, leather upholstery, heated front seats and an electric driver’s seat.

In addition to the SX:

Chrome boot accent
Leather upholstery
Heated front seat
Electric driver’s seat

XLS

  • Price when new: $26,490 - $28,490
  • Price used: $9,500 - $23,000

Introduced in April 2014, the XLS became the top-of-the-range model of the Lancer sedan range, and added 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, automatic headlights and a host of additional luxury and comfort features.

In addition to the LS:

18-inch alloy wheels
Sports suspension
Electrochromatic mirror
Automatic headlights
Rain-sensing wipers
Electric mirrors – folding
9-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system
7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with MMCS
Mitsubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS)
Satellite navigation with 3D maps

VR Platinum Edition

  • Price when new: $27,090 - $29,590
  • Price used: $11,500 - $24,000

In January 2009, a limited-run Platinium edition was released and based on the VR model and added features such as a chrome grille, steering wheel audio controls, 7-inch touchscreen with Mitsubishi’s Multi Communication System (MMCS) and a 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system.

In addition to the VR:

Chrome grille
Steering wheel audio controls
7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with MMCS
Mitsubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS)
9-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system
6 disc in-dash CD player
iPod integration/connectivity
Satellite navigation

September 2010 updates:
Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity

VR-X

  • Price when new: $28,990 - $33,490
  • Price used: $5,000 - $22,000

The VR-X model debuted during the CJ’s generation launch and featured sports orientated features in addition to the VR model such as 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, sports body kit, larger brakes and sports/alloy pedals.

The key highlight was a 2.4 litre 4-cylinder engine with more power and torque, mated to a 5-speed manual or 6-speed CVT transmission.

In addition to the VR:

18-inch alloy wheels
Sports suspension
Sports body kit
Strut tower brace
Larger brakes
Sports/alloy pedals
Bluetooth connectivity

September 2010 updates:
Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity

October 2011 updates:
Reversing camera (displayed in rear view mirror)
Leather upholstery
Electrically adjustable front seats
Heated front seats

August 2012 updates:
Reversing camera
iPod integration/connectivity
6.1-inch infotainment display

August 2013 updates:
7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with MMCS
Mitsubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS)
Satellite navigation

April 2014 updates:
8-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system

 

Olympic Special

  • Price when new: $32,990
  • Price used: $7,500 - $20,000

The Olympic Special model was a limited-run model launched in April 2008, and was based on the VR-X model but with a 2.0-litre engine.

In addition to the VR-X:

Chrome exterior highlights
Woodgrain interior trim
Leather upholstery
Steering wheel audio controls
7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with MMCS
Mitsubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS)
9-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system
6 disc in-dash CD player
iPod integration/connectivity
Satellite navigation

Aspire

  • Price when new: $33,990 - $35,190
  • Price used: $8,500 - $12,000

The Aspire was the top-of-the range model launched in 2008 and featured additional luxury and comfort features such as HID headlights, woodgrain interior trim, leather seats and a 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system.

The Aspire was discontinued in 2012 as the Lancer model range was reduced. It was replaced with the LX model.

In addition to the VR:

18-inch alloy wheels
HID headlights
Woodgrain interior trim
Leather upholstery
9-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system
6 disc in-dash CD player

September 2009:
7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with MMCS
Mitubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS)

September 2010 updates:
Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity

October 2011 updates:
Reversing camera displayed in MMCS
Electrochromatic mirror
Leather upholstery
Electrically adjustable front seats
Heated front seats

Ralliart

  • Price when new: $37,990 - $44,490
  • Price used: $14,000 - $55,000

The CJ Lancer Ralliart was introduced in September 2008, and made available in either a sedan or sportsback (hatch) body.

Sporting a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, which was mated to a 6-speed semi-automatic transmission, the Ralliart is sports model of the range, one step below the Lancer Evo models.

In addition to mechanical upgrades compared to the other Lancer models, the Ralliart also featured luxury and comfort features such as climate control, rain sensing wipers, in updated models a 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system.

In addition to the VR-X

18-inch alloy wheels
Motion sensing alarm
Automatic headlights
Rain-sensing wipers
Cruise control
Climate control air conditioning
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Leather handbrake lever
Ralliart sports front seats
6-speaker sound system
6-disc in-dash CD player
Bluetooth connectivity

September 2009:
Acoustic windscreen

September 2010 updates:
Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity

October 2011 updates:
Reversing camera
Partial leather upholstery
Gloss black interior panels

September 2012 updates:
6.1 inch colour screen
9-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system
iPod integration/connectivity

August 2013 updates:
7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with MMCS
Mitsubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS)
Satellite navigation with 3D maps”

Should you buy it?

With so many different models and varieties available, buying one really does depend on the specific example you’re looking at.

We’d obviously avoid any Lancers with a sketchy history or showing huge kilometres, as with so many examples populating the used market, a perfectly serviced and low kilometre example will be just around the corner and will be worth every cent of the few extra dollars it’ll be asking.

There really is a Lancer to suit nearly everyone’s budget and requirements and yes, ignoring the Ralliart and Evo models, it is a bit of a boring and bland thing, and yes you should probably buy a Corolla, Hyundai i30 or Mazda 3 instead, but find a good one and it’s a tentative yes from us, they can be a solid no nonsense nugget of a car.

But before you hand over your cash, make sure you get it to a qualified mechanic and have a full pre-purchase inspection carried out as the build quality between examples can vary, let alone what any previous owners may have subjected them to.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

5 years/130,000kms
5 years/100,000kms (from July 2014)

Servicing:

12 months/15,000kms

Tech specs

Body Style:

4-door sedan (ES, ES Sport, Platinum, Activ, RX, SX, LX, LS, VR, VR Platinum, VR-X, Olympic Special, Aspire, XLS, Ralliart)
5-door hatchback – called ‘Sportback’ (ES, Platinum, Activ, RX, SX, VR, VR Platinum, VR-X, GSR, Ralliart)

Engines:

2.0 litre 4-cylinder petrol (ES, ES Sport, Platinum, Activ, RX, SX, LX, LS, VR, VR Platinum, VR-X, Olympic Special
2.4 litre 4-cylinder petrol (VR-X – From 2008, Aspire, GSR, XLS)
2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol (Ralliart)

Power:

113kW – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder petrol
110kW – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder petrol (from April 2014)
125kW – 2.4 litre 4-cylinder petrol
177kW – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol (Ralliart)

Torque:

198Nm – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder petrol
197Nm – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder petrol (from April 2014)
226Nm – 2.4 litre 4-cylinder petrol
343Nm – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol (Ralliart)

Transmission & drivetrains:

5-speed manual, front-wheel drive (FWD)
6-speed continuous variable transmission (CVT), front-wheel drive (FWD)
6-speed semi-automatic, all-wheel drive (AWD)

Fuel consumption:

7.6 – 10.2L/100kms

Length:

4570mm (sedan)
4585mm (hatchback/sportback)

Width:

1760mm

Height:

1490mm (sedan)
1515mm (hatchback/sportback)

Kerb Weight:

1305 – 1555kg (sedan)
1345 – 1590kg (hatchback/sportback)

Towing (unbraked/braked):

550kg/1000kg

Disclaimer

Information correct as of July 08, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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