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2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Review
Clamoring for attention in a niche market.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is a wagon that's based off of the successful Lancer platform. This could be a difficult sell to the American public who's not exactly clamoring for a performance wagon. Its reputation will help, but it will face stiff competition from the likes of the Subaru Outback, Impreza Wagon, and the Mazda MAZDA3. Like the original sedan, there have been cosmetic changes, especially on the front fascia.
Engines: 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback LS, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart
The 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is a whole new model but not a lot changed from the sedan. The obvious change is in the structure, which gets a raised roofline and the rear end being a wagon. The grille has been redesigned to fit with the rest of the corporate badging. The integrated bumpers and halogen headlamps have also been redesigned, which was combines with the new grille and gives the Sportback a much different fascia.
From the front, the 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback looks fairly similar to the sedan. The grille is a bit odd, essentially when it looks like two triangles separated by a triangular section with the Mitsubishi badge on it. The headlight assemblies and the air dam give it a racy, aggressive look. At the windshield is where the wagon part becomes noticeable and it begins to deviate from the sedan version. Its windshield pushes higher and the sides angle in more than on the Lancer. With the remainder of the body, the Lancer Sportback loses the sleek looks of the sedan, and the rear end is rather abrupt and lacking in styling nuances. On the Ralliart, the side skirts further to accentuate the boxy nature of the rear end. It also gets a small spoiler, which may look a bit ridiculous to consumers and serves no function.
The interior of the 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is roomy and clean. It's comfortable enough for five adults and able to get plenty of luggage in the back, which makes it a very useful. The seats are set high enough to make it easy to get in and out, yet low enough to allow for great visibility for the driver. There is plenty of standard equipment as well. On the LS consumers get air-conditioning, a four-speaker audio system with CD player, remote entry, and power doors, locks, and mirrors. The Ralliart steps it up with sport front bucket seats, rear headrests, cruise control, two more speakers, and leather-wrapped brake handle and gearshift knob. The tuned suspension in the LS gives it a great ride while the sport suspension in the Ralliart causes the ride to be a little stiff but not unbearable.
Performance & Handling
The 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback comes equipped with the 160-horsepower 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine that is also found in the Ralliart sedan. This helps to give the Sportback some entertaining power and the ability to be more than just a family wagon. The four-speed automatic is not a particularly great mate for the engine but is adequate. The adaptive shift control helps to tune the transmission to the style of the driver and does help to give the powertrain somewhat of a boost, but it's not enough to replace a manual transmission. The Ralliart comes with a sport suspension that’s tuned for superior cornering. The lack of anti-lock brakes on the LS is an issue and requires the driver to have a soft foot to get the perfect amount of braking. Anti-lock brakes on the Ralliart bring it to a stop quick and help in creating a better performing wagon.
The 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback LS model is surprisingly lacking in the safety category. While both models come equipped with driver and passenger airbags, the LS does not come with any sort of anti-lock brakes, unlike the Ralliart, which comes standard with four-wheel anti-lock brakes. It also gets an additional front side airbag. It was not crash-tested, but the Lancer sedan was and received four out of five stars for passenger and driver frontal impact safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With almost identical construction, the Sportback’s crash test safety should be identical as well.
EPA Fuel Economy
- Great cargo capacity
- Decent power
- Well-designed interior
You Won't Like
- No anti-lock brakes on LS
- No side airbag on LS
- No manual transmission
Clamoring for attention in a niche market.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Ford Focus Wagon
- Subaru Outback Sport
- Mazda MAZDA3