Still, it's worth noting that even the base 2013 Lancer comes with standard remote keyless entry, power windows and outside mirrors, including a driver window with one-touch up and down, as well as 140-watt AM/FM audio system with CD and MP3 players and volume control that is automatically adjusted as the car's speed increases.
The test car's optional, 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with a 10-inch subwoofer fitted into the side of the trunk had bass so deep it could shake the Lancer and be felt in nearby cars.
The test Lancer SE's 2.4-liter, double overhead cam, four-cylinder engine had good power, and peak torque of 167 foot-pounds came on at a good point — 4,100 rpm.
The Lancer SE test car wasn't a sportster, but it moved with verve in city traffic and sought to get up to highway speed in short order.
Engine noise was noticed at the higher revs, and both road noise and sounds from passing vehicles came into the passenger compartment.
Notably, the CVT in the test car didn't strangle the power and worked so competently, some drivers might not be aware it's not a regular automatic transmission.
The government rates the all-wheel drive, 2013 Lancer SE, which comes only with the CVT, at 22 and 29 mpg in city and highway travel, respectively.
This is lower than the 27/36-mpg rating that the 2013 Impreza has with lower-powered engine and CVT. All Subarus come standard with all-wheel drive.
Still, the somewhat stiff-riding Lancer SE, with its well-controlled body motions and confident handling through slaloms and in mountain curves, impressively clung to the road and was enjoyable to drive.
Even in a heavy, unrelenting rainstorm, the car moved purposefully and never lost traction. All-wheel drive, which can be switched on via a button in the center console, was a comforting feature.
Note the Lancer's all-wheel drive also can be manually set to direct up to 70 percent of the available power to the electronic control coupling that manages the rear wheels.
Front- and rear-seat headroom is within 0.1 or 0.2 inch of that in the Impreza sedan.
As in many compact sedans, three adults sit closely in the back seat. The Lancer SE's trunk space is measured at 12.3 cubic feet, but with the subwoofer that was in the test car's trunk, space shrunk to 11.8 cubic feet.
The material lining the trunk was pretty barebones stuff.
Besides the knee air bag that helps keep the driver properly positioned behind the steering wheel during a frontal crash, standard safety equipment includes antilock brakes, electronic stability control and traction control.
The Lancer earned four out of five stars in overall crash tests by the federal government, with across-the-board four-out-of-five stars in frontal and side crash testing.