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#42

in Used Small Cars $14K and up

Avg. Price Paid: $12,815 - $26,720
Original MSRP: $15,995 - $37,895
MPG: 25 City / 34 Hwy
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2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Reviewers say you’ll have to choose the Lancer GT, Ralliart or Evolution in order to get a model with strong brakes, sharp handling and a powerful engine, though these models have low fuel economy ratings for the class. With the base engine, fuel economy ratings are significantly higher, but reviewers dislike this engine for its lack of power and unrefined continuously variable transmission.

  • "Sedan versions of this compact are otherwise unexceptional, save for the sporty Ralliart. Those Lancers are strong performers, but high-for-the-class fuel consumption and sticker prices limit their appeal." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "The Lancer Ralliart represents a more affordable version of the high-performance Lancer Evolution model, and it delivers plenty of excitement thanks to turbocharged power, sharp handling and rapid-fire shifting from the dual-clutch automated manual transmission." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer DE and ES trims have a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower. The SE and GT trims have a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 168 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard with the base engine, and a continuously variable transmission is optional. Ralliart models get a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, inline four-cylinder engine that makes 237 horsepower and a six-speed automated manual transmission with paddle shifters. The Lancer Evolution has a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder engine that makes 291 horsepower. The Evolution also has a standard five-speed manual transmission and an optional six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. According to the EPA, the base Lancer averages 26/34 mpg city/highway, and has the highest fuel economy ratings in the model line. The Evolution averages 17/22 mpg with its automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard on the SE, Ralliart and Evolution models.

Several reviewers dislike the underpowered base engine and the optional CVT, which they call loud and unengaging. They find that the 2.4-liter engine is significantly stronger than the base engine, which makes the Lancer more fun to drive. Most test drivers prefer the Ralliart because its available transmissions are responsive, and enjoy driving the Evolution because its engine is so much more powerful.

See the full 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer specs »

  • "With a decent amount of comfort and a quiet cabin, a 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer equipped with the base 2.0-liter engine is powerful enough for the daily commute. Unfortunately, this engine seems to generate more noise than horsepower, especially when saddled with the CVT, a technology that makes performance seem lackluster even though it delivers good fuel economy. For those seeking a bit more excitement on a budget, the SE or GT are better alternatives thanks to more low-end engine power and a suspension that responds better to spirited driving." -- Edmunds
  • "The SE and GT trims, however, get a more robust 168-horsepower 2.4-liter engine, which shows noticeable improvements over the outdated 2.0-liter in the areas of vibration and low-end torque." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "At a 10- or 15-mph roll, pounding on the gas will slingshot you forward, sending all important organs to the rear of your body." -- AutoWeek (Evolution, 2012)
  • "Ralliart is robust once rolling. Upshifts and downshifts are quick and timely, whether in automatic mode or shifted manually via the center console lever or steering-wheel paddles." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "You won't be shoved back into the seat at takeoff, but once underway you'll find a car that can induce a few smiles along country roads." -- MarketWatch (Ralliart, 2011)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers agree that if you want the best-handling model in the Lancer lineup, it’s a good idea to bypass the base trim, and head straight for the GT, Ralliart and Evolution models, which have taut suspensions and precise steering. Of these trims, reviewers prefer the Ralliart because its steering and brakes are very responsive, though they do say its ride is firm and uncomfortable. If you are considering the base DE and ES models, reviewers say they can’t match class leaders because of their poor bump absorption and imprecise steering. The brakes on the DE and ES trims are strong, but one reviewer notices that these models nosedive in abrupt stops.

  • "The DE and ES exhibit decent grip in turns, but the steering is not especially direct or communicative. Though the brakes feel strong, nosedive is evident in quick stops." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "On twisting mountain roads, we were impressed by the GT's composure, as well as its tenacious ability to cling to the pavement. When not tearing through unpopulated mountain passes, we found the smooth and less noisy ES trim to be far more compatible with daily driving needs." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "The car is quick, nimble, light on its suspension yet stuck to the pavement like Spiderman, keenly responsive to accelerator, brake and steering inputs." -- AutoWeek (Lancer Evolution, 2012)
  • "On the Malibu back roads, the Ralliart doesn't feel like it's rolling on four gummy erasers, but it isn't as darty as the EVO, either. Trust me, though -- it's plenty nimble and offers ride firmness you could probably endure for 500 miles rather than the EVO's death-by-a-billion vibrations experience." -- Motor Trend (2009)

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