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2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Compact Sedan

New Car Review of the 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Compact Sedan.

Description: Compact Sedan
Base MSRP Range: $13,597 - $16,797
Invoice Price Range: $12,753 - $15,753

The compact Lancer sedan first came ashore in North America in 2002 as upgraded replacement for Mitsubishi's unassuming sub-compact Mirage sedan.

It was bigger than Mirage and carried a larger and more powerful engine, with a more substantial structure supporting the slick exterior package and more sophisticated mechanical hardware aboard, plus luxury equipment standard in a rather cushy cabin.

The enlarged structure -- adding four more inches of length compared to the wheelbase for Mirage -- elevated Lancer to the center of the compact class of imported sedans. Measure all of them and Lancer ends up with the longest body, while the expansive passenger cabin scores best-in-class legroom for front seats.

Exterior styling looks strong and aggressive, with wheels pinned at corners to balance the stance. Body parts extend only briefly over front and back edges in the manner of racers as the two-step face and windshield tip backward to suggest swift movement. New sculpting of the front-end for 2004 shows the Mitsubishi signature grille front and center on the prow with new integrated bumpers and halogen headlamps at front corners.

Mitsubishi casts Lancer in four editions this year including a new Ralliart trim with additional horsepower. Four trims draw from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that nets 120 hp and connects to a five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic. Lancer ES is the base issue, with luxury version Lancer LS adding equipment and Lancer O-Z Rally wearing sporty body additions inspired by rally racers. Lancer Ralliart draws on Lancer Evolution for styling and also carries more hardware, such as a taut-tuned suspension, sport bucket seats and larger disc brakes, and it gets more power too -- 162 hp -- with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine out of the Outlander wagon.