2013 Mitsubishi Lancer
Starting MSRP $15,995–$28,095
Unless your family is need of a budget-friendly compact vehicle that offers all-wheel drive, there aren't many other reasons to consider the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer.
I don't enjoy picking on an underdog, but the Mitsubishi Lancer is in the competitive compact sedan segment. With a ho-hum driving experience, dated interior styling and not a whole lot of storage space, the Lancer didn't give my family much to be excited about. My small family of three actually enjoys compact vehicles, but the Lancer fell flat for all of us.
The five-seater does have good looks and handling going for it. I couldn't complain about its responsiveness or maneuverability. But it had a light feel as I drove it, meaning that it didn't feel particularly connected to the road. My test car, a Lancer SE, had a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
This car comes in many forms, from the sedan I tested to the rally-inspired Evolution and the Sportback hatchback. The DE base trim starts at $16,790, including a $795 destination charge. My SE model, which had standard all-wheel drive, an upgraded stereo system and a power sunroof, came in at $22,640.
The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer looks good and has much more aggressive styling, especially when compared to the Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sentra. The Lancer grabs attention on the road with its pronounced grille.
My biggest pet peeve with the Lancer's exterior was trunk access. There's no handle or button on the outside to open the trunk, so you must use the key fob. The trunk never seemed to open the first time when I pushed the key fob button; I clicked it multiple times before it'd open. Once the trunk finally responded, it was barely cracked open, so I had to lift it up manually. It's a minor detail but a major inconvenience, especially when you've got three bags resting on your forearm and you're carrying a kid in the other. I need easy access to the cargo area as I run errands, and this would be a deal-breaker for me.
The Lancer's trunk is on the smaller side. In my test car, one of the upgrades included a large subwoofer in the trunk, which will delight your tweens and teenagers, but is a bummer for parents needing room for a stroller and groceries. I made it work, but I definitely could've used more trunk space. A 60/40-split folding backseat is available on the base and standard on the higher trims.
Aside from my beef with the trunk, the Lancer got the job done. My 2-year-old daughter, who vehemently exerts her independence these days, got into the car on her own just fine thanks to its low step-in height. Its attractive angular design doesn't interfere with the door openings either; I didn't have to watch my head too much when leaning in to get her strapped into her child-safety seat.
The Lancer SE has a 168-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder that's paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 22/29 mpg city/highway and uses regular unleaded gasoline. I averaged 23 mpg during my weeklong test drive of mostly city driving.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): None
While the Lancer's exterior looks modern, its interior has dated features and a straightforward, no-frills looks. Even my upgraded SE model test car had a rental car feel to it.
My test car had a few upgrades, including a power-operated moonroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel and rudimentary Bluetooth connectivity. It was particularly lackluster as many competitors offer multimedia systems with touch-screens in their compact sedans. A 6-inch touch-screen for Toyota's Entune system can be found in a midlevel Corolla, and it has a lower starting price of $18,975. My midlevel Lancer didn't have an USB input, which made me feel like I was inside an older vehicle.
The Lancer did surprise me and my family inside the cabin; things felt cozy but not cramped. My daughter and I did just fine in the car as we ran errands around town, and when my husband joined us, we had enough room. However, don't count on the Lancer as a frequent five-seater — even if it can technically fit three in the backseat — it would be a tight squeeze.
Additional storage is what you'd expect in a compact car: four cupholders, small door pockets in the front doors with bottleholders and a skimpy center console.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
The 2013 Lancer has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received the top score of Good in front-, side-impact, rear and roof-strength crash tests. The Lancer also received an overall safety score of four stars out of five from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned four stars of five in front-, side-impact, rear and roof-strength crash tests.
There are two sets of lower Latch anchors in the Lancer's outboard seats. They were easy to access thanks to sizable slits in the seat upholstery. A rear-facing child-safety seat could really eat up the front passenger's legroom, but families with kids in forward-facing seats, boosters or those who have graduated from their car seats will fit comfortably in the backseat. Find out how the 2013 Lancer performed in Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
The Lancer SE has standard all-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control and seven airbags, including side curtains for both rows and a driver's knee airbag.
Get more safety information on the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer here.
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