Since its debut in 1973, the Mitsubishi Lancer has endured as a small sedan sold nearly globally and with about a dozen different names.

For 2013, the Lancer in North America is available in DE, ES, SE, GT, Ralliart and the high-performance Evolution trim. The non-performance models have largely stayed the same for the past several years. The 2013 slight differences include the SE trim level standard roof rack mounts.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

My weekly driver was the Lancer SE, an upgraded trim with a 2.4-liter, 168 horsepower, Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive. It also featured the new, standard roof rack mounts and an alloy wheel package.

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The Lancer’s standard chiseled exterior with its minor improvements further defines the common assessment of many Mitsubishi cars. The sporty exterior appearance isn’t matched by the interior. The Lancer interior includes a lot of plastic parts and the cloth seats while comfortable don’t have a durable feel or appearance.

I didn’t have the opportunity for a several-hour, long open-road stretch and nor did I drive in inclement weather. But in short, in-town trips and with a total of about 200 miles, the Mitsubishi Lancer didn’t distinguish or embarrass itself in any driving circumstance.

The Lancer has adequate leg room and head room in the front and back seats. It’s comfortable and void of blind spots. At higher speeds, the interior noise level increases.

Like the full Subaru lineup, the Lancer SE has all-wheel drive, the benefits of which are fully appreciated in less than ideal weather circumstances. But since that wasn’t the case, it’s hard to drive the Lancer without thinking other manufacturers with models at the same price (or at least within a few thousand dollars) are better choices. Most notable are Mazda2, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Subaru Impreza.

Likes:

Strong steering.

Standard all-wheel drive, with front-wheel driver option.

Comfortable seats with good leg room, especially the rear seats.

Strong list of standard features.

Strong warranty.

Fairly priced.

Dislikes:

Lower quality interior materials.

Marginal gas mileage averages.

Underpowered engine.

Facts & Figures: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 9.1 seconds.
Airbags (7): front, front-seat side, full-length side curtain and driver’s knee.
First aid kit: Not available.
Fuel economy: 22 mpg (city), 29 mpg (highway), 25 mpg (combined), automatic transmission.
Government Safety Ratings: NHTSA, Overall (four stars); Frontal crash, driver (five stars); Passenger (four stars); Side crash, front seat (five stars); rear seat (three stars); Rollover (four stars).
Horsepower: 168.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $20,295.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.mitsubishicars.com
Price As tested: $22,640.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/unlimited mileage.

What Others Say:

“Not that the Mitsubishi Lancer is a poor choice – far from it. But, in an extremely competitive segment with such heavy hitters as the Honda Civic and new Ford Focus — not to mention the new 40-mpg Hyundai Elantra — the middle-of-the-road Lancer can easily be overlooked.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“The Lancer’s angular, stocky appearance still looks good in an aggressive way, though it’s bordering on dated when lined up against the new Focus or Mazda3.” — Cars.com.

“While the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer’s chiseled exterior lends an air of aggression, its interior design and materials drag down the car’s overall appeal. On the whole, the cabin design is uninspiring and rife with hard plastic elements.” — Edmunds.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“There’s nothing appreciably wrong or dramatically right about the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer. But since it’s part of one of the most competitive car segments in the industry, there’s little except its strong warranty to give the underdog sedan a chance.”

 

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