What's New for 2013
The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback returns unchanged other than the addition of a new All-Weather option package.
Based on the compact Lancer sedan, the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback gets the same sporty styling as its sibling. The principal difference is the large hatchback opening that, combined with the 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks, nearly quadruples the sedan's cargo capacity. The top-of-the-line GT model is also well-equipped for the money.
Unfortunately, the Lancer Sportback's powertrain is unable to deliver the elevated level of performance its styling implies. The handling is decent enough, but the lackluster continually variable automatic transmission (CVT), relatively poor fuel economy and low-budget interior detract from the overall package.
With that in mind, we think most buyers ought to consider some of the Lancer Sportback's hatchback competitors. A short list might include the 2013 Ford Focus, 2013 Mazda 3 and 2013 Volkswagen Golf, all of which best the little Mitsubishi in important areas like performance, fuel economy and cargo room.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is a compact hatchback offered in ES and GT trim levels.
The base ES model comes with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, a rear spoiler, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split rear seat, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, full power accessories, a trip computer and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player with an auxiliary audio input jack.
The GT gains a more powerful engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, aero-style bodywork, foglights, keyless ignition/entry, automatic climate control, front sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with shift paddles, Bluetooth, the Fuse voice-activation system and a six-speaker audio system with a USB/iPod interface.
Many GT features are also available on the ES as stand-alone options or as part of bundled packages. A Touring package is available for the GT that adds automatic bi-xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a sunroof, leather seats, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system (with an in-dash six-CD changer and satellite radio) and a rearview camera in the rearview mirror. Also optional on both trims is a navigation system with digital music storage and a rearview camera in the touchscreen display, and a new All-Weather package that includes remote start, heavy-duty floor mats and rear mud guards.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback ES is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. The GT gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 168 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. A CVT and front-wheel drive are standard with both engines. There's no manual transmission offered, but the CVT features simulated gear ratios that can be operated via the GT's shift paddles.
The Lancer Sportback ES achieves an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. Numbers for the GT drop to 22 /29/25.
The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback comes standard with front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver-side knee airbag and stability control. Antilock brakes are also standard, with four-wheel disc brakes on the GT and front discs/rear drums on the ES.
In government crash tests, the Lancer Sportback earned an overall rating of four stars (out of a possible five) as well as four stars in frontal and side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Lancer Sportback its highest rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact crash testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
Given its muscular exterior styling, you might expect the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback to offer an equally handsome interior. Unfortunately the design is rather generic and the extensive use of hard plastic materials cheapens the overall effect.
From an ergonomic perspective, the front seats offer limited thigh support, and the lack of a telescoping steering wheel may make it more difficult for shorter and taller drivers to get comfortable. The rear seats are comfortable enough, with a better than average amount of legroom. Behind those 60/40-split seats there are 13.8 cubic feet of cargo room; fold both sections down and you open up as much as 52.7 cubic feet of space.
Gauges and controls are generally straightforward, though the available navigation system's touchscreen interface is less than intuitive. This downside is offset by the Fuse voice control system which, while less sophisticated than Ford's similar Sync system, still makes it relatively easy to select your favorite tunes or input a destination.
When it comes to performance, the 2.0-liter engine under the hood of ES models is perfectly fine for everyday motoring, but it lacks the spunk that driving enthusiasts will be looking for. The GT's smooth 2.4-liter motor delivers better performance but is somewhat hamstrung by the sluggish CVT. The GT model in particular benefits from a sport-tuned suspension that delivers uncommonly nimble handling for a car in this segment.