This vehicle was not originally on my list. Having decided to downsize to a smaller car that could better navigate more crowded urban streets, I wanted decent fuel economy and sporty handling.
The Mazda3 and new VW Jetta were both on my list, and I checked out the Nissan Sentra and Honda Civic as well.
The Mazda was way too pricey for what it included. Even getting "real" (aluminum) wheels required a car north of $25K. The VW had been decontented and was more "German Corolla" than performance sedan. The Sentra was okay to drive, but its solid rear axle delivered subpar ride and handling. The Civic was competent, but very expensive.
I test drove two Lancer models -- the ES mid-range model and the top-of-the-line GTS. The GTS was everything I wanted -- fast, with decent fuel economy (comparable to the 2.5L Mazda), great safety, and great handling (comparable to the Mazda3).
Mitsubishi sells a fair number of Lancers in the USA, but nowhere near as many as Mazda sells 3s, Honda sells Civics, and Nissan sells Sentras. The Mitsubishi dealer was willing to bargain -- so I picked up the CVT-paddle-shifter-equipped model, nicely loaded with voice control, automatic temperature control, and the 2.4L MIVEC engine for around $18,600 including incentives. GREAT deal -- a comparable car from other manufacturers I looked at was between $4,000 and $6,000 more.
I've only had it a couple of months, but so far it's doing well. It has a 5 year, 60K bumper-to-bumper warranty and 10 year, 100K powertrain warranty, so I feel confident. The dealer is one of the largest in the area and has been selling cars for years, so service isn't an issue.
The only niggling complaint I have (and it's a small one) is that the car has more tire noise in the cabin than other vehicles, which can cause some "booming" after a while. There are also a couple of squeaks from the dashboard areas on rough pavement in sub-freezing temperatures. But neither problem is serious enough to warrant thousands more for another make.
So far, I'm quite happy with Mitsubishi. I will update with progress in time as the car ages.