Included in the seat package are HID headlights with a leveling control. A dial on the dashboard lets you set them between five angles, allowing a fine degree of control that's mostly useful if you expect to slog the car over hill and dale at night.
Another tech treat from the Recaro seat package is a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, sporting an 8-inch subwoofer in the cargo area. We easily rattled the interior panels with this system, making thud thud reverberations run up and down the car.
It isn't the most refined audio experience, and you will find highs getting shortchanged in favor of Rockford Fosgate's thick signature sound. And even with its 710 watts, it doesn't sound like much with the volume low--you need to crank it up to really experience this audio system. The bass is sharp and visceral, making bass-oriented tracks stand out.
The Lancer Sportback also gets a pretty advanced optional navigation system for this segment of car. With colorful, easy-to-read maps stored on an internal hard drive, the system is quick to calculate routes. Route guidance includes lane guidance for freeways, but we found the voice prompts far too frequent, giving about four warnings before a turn.
And there aren't many advanced features in this navigation system: no traffic, weather, or text to speech, for example. But we do like the plethora of route tools, which let you do things like create a detour or preview the journey.
Given the hard drive for the maps, Mitsubishi also reserves space for ripped music. The car includes a Gracenote database, which automatically recognizes any CD you put in the slot, tagging ripped tracks to make them accessible by song, artist, and album names.
We are surprised that with this fairly advanced digital music system there is no USB port for iPod integration or other music devices. Especially considering the Lancer Sportback's demographic, we would think an iPod connection would be essential. There is a satellite radio option, included with the Recaro seat package, and we found the interface easy to use, with pages of channel listings by category.
The Lancer Sportback also comes with a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, but it is very basic. Using voice commands, you can pair a phone, dial a number, or make phone book entries. There is only minor onscreen feedback and you can't import a phone's contact list.
The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart includes some impressive driving gear and cabin tech, but it is a mixed bag of tricks, with some features ranging into the mediocre. The cabin tech features are largely average, although the Rockford Fosgate audio system and capability to rip CDs to the car stand out. Both traffic information and iPod integration are features we missed.
The double-clutch Sportshift Transmission is a good reason to get the Ralliart, as it is our favorite of this type of transmission, working well in normal and sport driving situations. The all-wheel-drive system also reacts well to slippery roads. Fuel economy isn't bad for the turbocharged engine, with 17 mpg city and 25 mph highway. We found it easy to come in at 20.8 mpg, right in the middle of that range, but the sport setting is a temptation to be much more wasteful.
As for design, the slapdash styling is a negative, but it does offer the functionality of a hatchback. Likewise, the interface design for cabin tech looks a little rough but remains functional.
|Model||2010 Mitsubishi Lancer|
|Power train||Turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder|
|EPA fuel economy||17 mpg city/25 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||20.8 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional hard drive-based|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single CD|
|MP3 player support||None|
|Other digital audio||Auxiliary input, onboard hard drive, satellite radio|
|Audio system||710 watt Rockford Fosgate|
|Price as tested||$33,059|