On one level, the 2014 Lancer is a strong contender: Packaging and interior space are impressive, and this is one vehicle that makes smart use of its cabin dimensions.
But on the other hand, the interior details leave a lot to be desired. The upholstery on the less-expensive models reminds us of what was used in many Japanese cars a decade ago, and the instrument panel, while it might be described as elegantly simple, has too much hard, hollow plastic and is lacking a level of detail, even for this price class.
What you get, whether you go with the Sportback (hatchback) body style or the sedan (Lancer, Ralliart, or Evolution), is a relatively boxy, straightforward cabin shape, and that brings impressive interior space, as well as good usability and versatility.On the flip side, the interior noise and lack of ride comfort could be deal-breakers. DE and ES models (and SE) come with a slightly softer suspension and more forgiving tires that comfort-oriented buyers will probably prefer. But especially in GT form, the Lancer rides quite hard, and with plenty of road noise to match the engine noise. And in CVT models the engine gets raucous and buzzy on acceleration.
You might hope that Evolution or Ralliart models would be a step up in refinement, but they're really not, and those with back issues shouldn't even think about it. In the Evo, the better sport seats do help some, but its structure pounds and rings as its ride is downright jarring on pothole-ridden Rust Belt roads.