Full 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback receives some electronic upgrades. The latter include revised audio systems and a new navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen.
As a four-door hatchback version of the Lancer sedan, the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is identical to the Lancer sedan until you get past the rear seats. Once you've flopped those 60/40-split rear seats down, you'll have nearly four times the maximum cargo space of the Sportback's more formal sibling. The Sportback is fittingly named, too, as it looks more dynamic than the boxy sedan thanks to its bobbed, spoiler-topped tail.
Sadly, the Lancer Sportback's underhood goods don't live up to its sporty styling. Although it handles respectably, the Sportback doesn't accelerate with the verve you'd expect. The engines put out decent power for this segment, but a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the only available transmission and it tends to blunt their efforts. This used to be the norm for CVTs, but in recent years, a few carmakers (like Nissan) have shown that it's possible to calibrate these transmissions for better performance. Furthermore, there's no compensating advantage here in fuel economy, as the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is subpar in that respect as well.
Given these knocks against the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback, we suggest checking out its competition. Top recommendations include the 2014 Ford Focus, 2014 Kia Forte, 2014 Mazda 3 and Subaru Impreza. All of these hatchbacks beat the Lancer Sportback in important areas like performance, fuel economy and interior refinement.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 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 and an auxiliary audio input jack.
Optional for the ES is the Alloy Wheel package, which adds 16-inch alloy wheels along with rear disc brakes (instead of drums). The Deluxe package (which requires the Alloy Wheel package) adds a sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, a six-speaker stereo, the Fuse voice-activated electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, USB/iPod integration, satellite radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and padded door panel inserts.
The GT has the contents of the Deluxe package as standard plus a more powerful engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, aero-style bodywork, foglights, automatic climate control, front sport seats, a 6.1-inch touchscreen and a rearview camera.
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 and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system. Optional on both trims is a navigation system (with a larger 7-inch touchscreen) and an All-Weather package that includes remote start, heavy-duty floor mats and rear mud guards.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 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 on the GT the CVT features simulated gear ratios that can be operated via 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 2014 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. A rearview camera comes standard on the GT.
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 its moderate-overlap frontal, side-impact and roof strength crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Given its muscular exterior styling, you might expect the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback to offer an equally handsome interior. Unfortunately, the design is rather generic and extensive use of hard plastic materials cheapens the overall effect.
From a comfort and ergonomics perspective, the front seats offer limited thigh support, and the lack of a telescoping steering wheel can make it difficult for both shorter and taller people to find an ideal driving position. The rear seats are comfortable enough, with a better than average amount of legroom. Behind those 60/40-split seats are 13.8 cubic feet of cargo room; fold both sections down and you open up 52.7 cubic feet of space.
Gauges and controls are generally straightforward, and audio, phone and navigation functions can be engaged via the Fuse voice control system. Though the latter is less sophisticated than Ford's similar Sync system, it still makes it relatively easy to select your favorite tunes or input a destination.
Most consumers will find the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback ES with its 2.0-liter engine powerful enough for their daily commute. Unfortunately, this engine is quite noisy during passing and merging maneuvers. The programming of the CVT only makes the problem worse, because engine rpm go way up as soon as you stomp on the gas pedal. If your budget allows it, the 2.4-liter engine in the GT is more desirable. Not only does this engine sound better, it makes more power at lower revs, so even with the CVT, it stays quieter on the highway.
The GT's sport-tuned suspension also makes it more capable during spirited driving on back roads. However, the bigger wheels and tires on the GT also generate more road noise, so you'll have to decide whether its advantages in handling and acceleration are worth a less serene cabin environment. For most drivers, we're betting they will be.