Pros: Peppy, smooth riding, comfortable ride inside, spacious, good gas mileage, and a nice look.
Cons: Doesn't "drive" like it's sister Raly Art or Evo, but it's not a race car.
I purchased my '03 Lancer in 2003, with 11,000 miles on it. I was so anxious to get it, since it was my first NEW car, that I failed to register that this model I was buying was a previous rental. My boyfriend warned me it would probably give me trouble down the road.
4 years later, and this car is my baby. It handles great, is peppy, stops on a dime, and has a smoothness to it's acceleration. It's not designed to be a sport car, unlike it's sister models the Raly Art and the Evo, but it is an awesome little car. 50,000 miles later and it has never given me one problem. All I've had to do was give it it's regular oil changes and in 2006 all 03 Lancers did have a recall on the heater box, which Mitsubishi took care of without hassle.
This car rides very comfortably, especially for long distance drives, as i drive long distance once a week. It comfortably seats 5 and even though the interior is basic, there are nice touches: automatic windows, window lock for those pesky backseat window-open lovers, a fold-down middle piece for an arm rest or a cup holder in the back seat, GREAT storage space in the trunk, and an overall comfy seating up front. It gets good gas mileage, having a 12 gallon tank and ranging from 300-350 miles per tank. It's peppy-ness is what stole my heart. Plus it has a nice look with unique touches, making it look different from your normal civic or whatnot. I love that the license plate is not "on the trunk". that's what sold me, i love that it's on the bumper. I think it makes the whole back of the car look nicer.
I was recently rear-ended in my car, (which i have to admit took a hard hit and the damage is rather minimal), and now am driving a rental, a Ford Focus. I'm noticing the nice touches on my Lancer that make the car a nice drive. There are less blind spots, the front window isn't extremely high up, and the roof doesn't bubble, making me feel like i'm in an egg.
Overall, the '03 Lancer is a really nice, safe, sturdy car that i would highly suggest.