Mitsubishi seems to be struggling in the United States. They have always built pretty good vehicles, but many of us wish they would just bring back the Eclipse and the Montero and get back to normal. All in all, they still build good cars, just not enough of them that buyers want.

The Lancer SE AWC that I tested this week was both surprising and disappointing. The surprising thing was the fun to drive factor that the car had. The disappointing thing was the company continuing to use the CVT transmission that I dislike, (because of its rubber band feel) and also the car sounded “tinny” when you closed the doors. Please add some insulation there, would you? And put in a transmission that is as sporty as this car looks.

The new AWC system on my test vehicle should appeal to the snow belters that can take advantage of the extra traction. Mitsubishi’s All-Wheel-Control system is well thought of in the industry and it works well. Power was provided by their peppy but not fast 168 horsepower 2.4-liter I-4 engine. Performance was ok, and fuel economy is rated at a respectable 22 city/ 29 hwy. Brakes and handling were fine.

Inside, the seating was basic, but comfortable. There was adequate legroom in the rear for adults. It has 60/40 folding rear seats that open up into the truck for good cargo capacity. The interior noise level was higher than I like, so lets hope they add some insulation next year.

My test vehicle didn’t have a lot of extras, but it did have the $1550 premium package that consists of a great Rockford Fosgate Sound System and an upgraded radio/mp3/6cd system.

Base MSRP on the Lancer SE AWC is $20,295, with the premium package it had an MSRP of $21845. This is a good value for this car. The Lancer carries a 5 year/60K bumper to bumper warranty and a 10 year/ 100k mile powertrain warranty. And that is really great!

While the Lancer SE is not the prettiest girl at the dance, you should put it on your list of compact cars to look at. I would bet that there are some good deals at your local Mitsubishi dealer. It looks like Mitsubishi is taking steps in the right direction and I wish them luck.

I give the Lancer a 4 out of 5 star rating.