The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer SE is an affordable and safe all-wheel drive compact sedan with an EPA rating of 29 miles per gallon on the highway. The Lancer SE competes against the big boys in a crowded segment and it refuses to get pushed around.

It may not be the most refined vehicle in its class, but it earns a “Top Safety Pick” award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and it starts at $15,995.

Of course, that price tag is for the base FWD model with a 5-speed manual transmission, a model that fewer buyers will select.

Our tested SE trim with AWC (all-wheel control) topped $21-grand, which still makes it friendly to lots of family budgets.

The upper end of the Lancer trim has an awful got a lot going for it. A quick recap shows you can get the “Top Safety Pick” all-wheel drive Lancer SE with a premium package for $21,845 plus freight. Parents, are you paying attention?

The base trims (DE and ES) of the Lancer get a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower. The SE AWC and the GT get a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that ups the horsepower ante to 168. The SE AWC gets a CVT transmission, while the GT gets a 5-speed manual with the CVT as an option. The top of the line Lancer Ralliart has a turbocharged 4-cylinder with 237 horsepower.

We have not tested the 2.0-liter offerings, but the 2.4-liter engine took everything we threw at it. It was quick off the line, and had sufficient power to hang with faster traffic in the left lane of the Interstate. We’re not a huge fan of CVT transmissions – they tend to make the

engine sound buzzy and overworked, even though it isn’t. But CVTs are better on fuel economy than regular automatic transmissions, and they’re another way that carmakers are trying to meet increasing fleet fuel economy numbers mandated by Uncle Sam.

On the road, our test Lancer handled nicely, with scant body roll. Steering was superb – linear and with good road feedback.

We had beautiful sunshine during our week with the test vehicle. We’re certainly not complaining about that, but we would have liked to see how the AWC performed on slippery roads during the rains of mid-


The switch from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive is accomplished by a driver-controlled button on the center console.

Inside, the Lancer is utilitarian and simple. Not much fuss, not much clutter. There are three large knobs for climate control, controls for the sound system and a narrow multi-

information display in the top center of the dash.

A round tachometer and a round speedometer are the dominant gauges behind the steering wheel.

Cloth seats felt durable, and manual seat adjustments were easy to use. There was plenty of headroom and legroom for my 6-foot-1 frame. Even the back seats had generous room for a small sedan.

The Lancer gets decent mileage, it handles well and it gets top safety marks, and most people will find its style attractive and sporty.

But when you open and close the doors of the Lancer, it sounds tinny. Some road and wind noises filter into the cabin, and from the trunk, you can see light between the 60/40 rear seatbacks.

The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer SE AWC has heated seats, automatic headlights, rear heater floor ducts, and a CD/MP3 player, but it only has pre-wiring for Bluetooth, and no USB ports.

The premium package adds a power sunroof, an upgraded Rockford Fosgate sound system, SiriusXM Satellite radio and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

New for 2013 are accommodations for a Thule plug-in roof carrier, 16-inch alloy wheels and an available premium package.

Although the vehicle could use more connectivity and soundproofing

materials, we think the Lancer SE AWC presents good value for the money.

Once again, never underestimate the value of all-wheel drive. It’s a

tremendous safety feature, and it’s standard in the 2013 Mitsubishi

Lancer SE trim.

2013 Mitsubishi Lancer SE AWC

  • Engine: 2.4-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower: 168
  • Transmission: CVT
  • Test model base price: $20,295 ($21,845 as tested, plus freight)
  • EPA Mileage Rating: 22 mpg city / 29 mpg highway