IMG_2996Driving the front-wheel drive (FWD) Mitsubishi Lancer GT on the dirt roads of Washington is about as close to stage rally as many of us will ever get – unless you drive stage rally, if so: Kudos.

For the rest of us, who still desire fun and fast both on and off pavement, this $21,595 (base price for GT) sedan gives you a lot of smiles, but not a lot of modern luxuries.

There’s no lane assist, no radar-aided cruise controls, no blind spot detectors – nothing. Instead, drivers must actually pay attention to where they are going, what’s going on around them, and all the other requirements for passing one’s driver’s test.

There’s heated seats and climate control for the front seats, a sound system that is audibly great (the bass will vibrate your mirrors, you are forewarned), and the ride is comfortable even on the most bouncy of unpaved, dirt backroads.

The backseats are roomy, but lack TV screens for the kiddos or heated seats to warm them when it’s cold. Instead, people must communicate with those in the backseat or let them speak amongst themselves for entertainment, and given them blankets when they’re cold.

The infotainment has Bluetooth connectivity, GPS, backup camera, and Sirius radio, but that’s it.

Things like using blinkers or checking blind spots before merging… you know, the basics.

I like that. For the price you’re paying, you are purchasing a car that you have to actively participate in driving to operate.

IMG_3156The only thing it lacked, in terms of being a true driver’s car, is a manual gearbox; though there is an option, it wasn’t in the version The Auto Reporter drove. Instead, the manumatic continuously variable transmission (CVT), had a ‘D’ mode for normal automatic transmission driving and the manumatic flappy paddles for the fun driving.

Out of all the manumatics I’ve driven, this has been the first that encourages me to use the flappy paddles because it’s responsive and fun, not droll and gastropoda slow.

The Lancer GT gets around 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway from the 168 horsepower, 2.4L 16-valve engine (for the GT model).

All in all, this was a great car with zero distractions inside the car. I had an incredible time on the mountain roads in southeast King County on the way out to a hike and had an incredible time on the way back!

Any car that can handle the forest service roads of Washington State can handle anything the city throws at it.