Unchanged from last year, the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is the always-practical hatchback version of the Lancer sedan. Prices start at $18,495, so it won't break your bank account, either.
There are two engines available for the Lancer, depending on whether you choose the base SE trim or the more sporting GT version. The former gets a 2-liter inline four-cylinder engine that generates 148 horsepower and 145 pound feet of torque; the latter gets the slightly larger 2.4 liter inline four-cylinder that produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound feet of torque.
Both send power to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). While this may feel like it drains the motor of power, it does help the Lancer achieve a fuel efficiency rating of 24 city and 32 highway for the ES, and 22 city and 29 highway for the GT. Not as good as some other vehicles in its class, but not bad, either.
The Sportback and Lancer share an uncanny family resemblance from the front, but, because of elongated rear hatch styling, the view from the rear and the side is quite different—and even a bit sporty. This rear hatch design improves the cargo capacity to 52.7 cubic feet with the cargo floor down, so it's as utilitarian as it is stylish.
The interior isn't the Lancer's strongest point, as the quality of materials doesn't stand up to the interiors offered in competitors like the Ford Focus. Even so, the layout is very efficient and easy to understand. You won't have to worry about taking your eyes off the road in order to find stereo buttons on the stereo. Air conditioning dials are also large and simple to use.
One of the best things about the Lancer Sportback—or any Mitsubishi for that matter—is the longstanding 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. It's one of the best you can find.