Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Used Mitsubishi Lancer review: 1996-2004

The Lancer is a strong little car that stands up well in crash testing

Quality, condition and service history are the most important things to consider when choosing a cheaper car for the young motorist.

Buy the best car you can afford, in the best condition, with a solid service history and you shouldn't go wrong.

Most young drivers, or their parents, usually have a limited amount of money to spend, which necessitates looking at older models to find the ones that fit. Buying a quality older car almost certainly means buying one from a Japanese carmaker, such as the CE Mitsubishi Lancer.

Mitsubishi launched the CE Lancer in 1996 and it ran until 2004. Prices now range around $1500 for the earliest examples to as much as $7000 for the last ones. It's available in practical sedan and wagon body styles, and a coupe, which is likely to be the most appealing to young drivers.

Two four-cylinder single overhead camshaft engines were offered. One was a 1.5-litre, the other a larger 1.8-litre unit, both of which offered a combination of solid performance and good fuel economy. The GLi was the entry model and came in sedan and coupe form.

It came standard with power steering, cloth trim, full wheel trims, and a fairly basic two-speaker sound system. For more there was the GLXi sedan and wagon that came with central locking, power mirrors and four-speaker sound.


The Lancer has an enviable reputation for reliability, but it depends heavily on being well serviced. Walk away from any car that hasn't been properly maintained, even if it appears a cheap buy. Mechanics who regularly work on them say the Lancer gives little trouble, although they stress that it's important to change the cam-timing belt as per Mitsubishi's recommendation of 90,000 km.

Older cars tend to get knocked about by owners who couldn't care less, so look closely for panel damage that has been poorly repaired. Under the bonnet look for oil leaks around the engine and gearbox.


Generally, the Lancer is a strong little car that stands up well in crash testing, making it a safe choice for young drivers. Importantly, Mitsubishi added dual front airbags in 2001, which makes that a key consideration when shopping. ANCAP rated the dual airbag model at 3 stars.


Mitsubishi claimed the Lancer averaged around 6.5 L/100 km in their lab tests, which makes it an economical little car. It took 91-octane unleaded fuel and Mitsubishi gave E10 ethanol blend fuel a tick.


Price new: $20,730 to $26,950
Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder; 69 kW/126 Nm 1.8-litre 4-cylinder; 86 kW/161 Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed auto, front-wheel drive
Economy: 6.5 L/100 km Body: 4-door sedan, 4-door wagon, 2-door coupe
Variants: GLi, GLXi Safety: 3-star ANCAP


Year Price From Price To
2004 $2,100 $8,140
2003 $2,100 $4,070
2002 $2,100 $4,070
2001 $1,900 $30,030
2000 $1,800 $4,070
1999 $1,800 $4,070
1998 $1,800 $4,070
1997 $1,800 $4,070
1996 $1,800 $4,070

View all Mitsubishi Lancer pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
Highest Price

Range and Specs

GL 1.5L, ULP, 3 SP AUTO $2,200 – 3,850 1996 Mitsubishi Lancer 1996 GL Pricing and Specs
GL 1.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $1,800 – 3,080 1996 Mitsubishi Lancer 1996 GL Pricing and Specs
GL 1.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $1,800 – 3,080 1996 Mitsubishi Lancer 1996 GL Pricing and Specs
GL Mark. Spec. 1.5L, ULP, 3 SP AUTO $1,800 – 3,080 1996 Mitsubishi Lancer 1996 GL Mark. Spec. Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist


Other cars to consider

1999 Toyota Echo
1999 Toyota Echo

1999 Toyota Echo

Price guide from: $4,800 – $4,990
1996 Volkswagen Polo
1996 Volkswagen Polo

1996 Volkswagen Polo

Pricing guide from: $2,400 – 4,070
1995 Nissan Pulsar
1995 Nissan Pulsar

1995 Nissan Pulsar

Pricing guide from: $2,400 – 4,070
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

View cars for sale
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.