2008 Subaru Impreza and 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer

Sam Smith
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INTERIOR

Impreza: Subaru focused heavily on reducing NVH and increasing interior refinement on the latest Impreza, and it shows. The fully framed windows cut wind noise, the seats are comfortable, and the dash and console plastics feel solid and well-crafted. It's a huge leap forward from the last-generation Impreza, where hard surfaces and tinny-sounding doors abounded. Granted, those things just tended to reinforce the idea that Subarus were rough-and-ready back-road strafers built for performance, not refinement, but you can't have it all. The navigation system is fiddly to use but otherwise works well, sight lines are reasonable, and the instrument cluster (complete with its prominently displayed tach) is nicely laid out. In all, the whole car is a very pleasant place to be.

Lancer: When is better just not good enough? When it's the interior of a base Mitsubishi Lancer. The 2008 Lancer's insides are worlds ahead of anything Mitsubishi has offered in its econoboxes before, but they're still not quite up to competitive snuff. The dash and door panels are built of hard, scratchy plastics, and while the controls are all conveniently located and easy to use, most of them just feel a little cheap. The levers, buttons, climate controls and radio knobs are blown out of the water by the stuff in the Subaru. Yes, you're looking at a giant leap forward for Mitsubishi-the last-generation Lancer interior felt like it was crafted out of refrigerator boxes and used-up chewing gum-but sometimes, a giant leap just isn't enough. Especially when you're starting from six feet underground.

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