2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Sedan - FROM $34,695
Possessing aggressive styling and track-tuned performance, the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a keen choice for driving enthusiasts on a budget.
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution sees no changes.
There's an expression that goes: "Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?" However, there are always exceptions to a so-called rule, and the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a good example of one. Here is a compact sport sedan that can rip to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat and weave through the slalom cones at speeds approaching 70 mph. For a car with four doors, these are numbers typically associated with fancy European sedans costing a lot more than the $35 grand starting price of the Evo.
Based on the plebeian Lancer sedan, the Evolution is an entirely different animal. In addition to all the go-fast, rally-style goodies like the turbocharged engine, all-wheel-drive system, stiffer chassis, bigger brakes and sport-tuned suspension, the Evo also features the requisite styling tweaks you expect from a sport sedan, including a more aggressive front fascia, flared fenders, hood scoop/air extractors and a rear spoiler.
One of the Evolution's remarkable attributes is its available automated dual-clutch manual transmission. Working the shift paddles on the steering wheel, you can get involved and rip off super-quick shifts. For those times when the grind of stop-and-go traffic has you in a less feisty mood, you can choose to keep the transmission in automatic mode. There's no denying this is about as good as it gets for a gearbox, and indeed the BMW M3 shares this same transmission with the Mitsubishi (the Evo actually had it first). The Evo's standard all-wheel-drive system operates in a similarly transparent yet proactive manner, seamlessly apportioning power to the wheels where it can be best used.
In certain areas, though, the Evo isn't as impressive. Although the interior boasts a pair of Recaro buckets, the rest of the cabin is as humdrum as that of a standard Lancer. And the lack of a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel means that some drivers may have trouble getting completely comfortable behind the wheel. Speaking of comfort, some may find this high-performance machine a bit too stiff-riding for their tastes, as it's more like a sports car than a sport sedan.
Even so, the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is still pretty much the only game in town if this kind of four-door performance appeals to you. Normally you could also consider the Evo's longtime rival, the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, but it's currently being redesigned and details on the upcoming model haven't yet been revealed.
If four doors aren't a must, another contender is the 2013 Ford Mustang GT. It's got plenty of power thanks to its burly V8 engine, although its handling certainly isn't as sharp as the Mitsubishi's. Other choices could include the 2013 BMW 135i and even the 2013 Nissan 370Z with its two-seat layout. Overall, though, the Lancer Evo continues to provide driving enthusiasts with excellent bang for the buck.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a high-performance compact sedan available in GSR and MR trim levels that correspond to the transmission choices. The GSR receives the five-speed manual, while the MR gets the automated manual "Sportronic" transmission with shift paddles.
Standard equipment on the GSR includes 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a large rear spoiler, full power accessories, automatic climate control, cruise control, keyless entry, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, Recaro sport bucket seats, Mitsubishi's Fuse voice-activated electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. The MR is similar but has BBS alloy wheels, a smaller rear lip spoiler, xenon headlamps and softer suspension calibrations.
Optional on the GSR is the Sight and Sound package, which adds xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry and a Rockford Fosgate sound system with 10-inch subwoofer, satellite radio and an in-dash six-CD changer. For added luxury there's the Sunroof and Leather package that adds a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, added sound insulation and an upgraded center console with covered bins. An Exterior package adds an aero body kit that includes side skirts and an even larger rear spoiler.
Available on the MR trim is the Premium package, which includes the Rockford Fosgate audio system, chrome exterior trim, leather and faux-suede upholstery, keyless ignition/entry and the upgraded center console. A Touring package is also available that adds the sunroof, heated mirrors, automatic headlights and wipers, full leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and added sound insulation.
Either trim level can also be had with a navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2013 Lancer Evolution is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that pumps out 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The GSR comes only with a five-speed manual transmission, while the MR is equipped with Mitsubishi's excellent six-speed automated manual transmission with shift paddles on the steering column. Power is sent to all four wheels through an advanced all-wheel-drive system.
Acceleration for either Evo is impressive. In Edmunds performance testing, a GSR required only 4.9 seconds to sprint from zero to 60 mph, while the MR did it in 5 flat. Fuel economy stands at an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined for the GSR and 17/22/19 for the MR.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution include antilock brakes, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver's knee airbag, stability and traction control and a variety of advanced handling technologies.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Lancer Evolution came to a stop from 60 mph in a short 113 feet. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the regular Lancer a top score of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Evo's interior is tame compared to its aggressive exterior styling. Recaro sport bucket seats, aluminum covers for the pedals, fancier gauges and a different steering wheel are the only significant things that differentiate the spicy Evo from the commonplace Lancer. Those Recaros are highly supportive and comfortable, but the driver seat's lack of a height adjustment and the steering wheel's tilt-only column make finding an ideal driving position difficult for many drivers, not just tall ones.
Most of the interior materials are the same as those on the regular Lancer, which is to say that they're below average for an economy car and downright disappointing for a vehicle costing about $35,000. Soft-touch door panels are at least standard on the Evo, whereas they're optional on the Lancer.
The Evo's utility is actually less than the regular Lancer's, as the rear seats don't fold down and the battery and washer fluid reservoir have been relocated to the trunk for better weight distribution. Total trunk space is just 7 cubic feet as a result, which is on par with tiny roadsters. Adding the optional stereo upgrade with its massive trunk-mounted subwoofer reduces that capacity even further.
On the plus side, most controls are within easy reach and simple in operation, and the standard Fuse voice activation system makes some audio and navigation functions a hands-free affair.
The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a sports car in compact sedan clothing. The advanced all-wheel-drive system works transparently to give the car very impressive handling and traction abilities. Spirited drivers will also appreciate the Evo's ultra-responsive steering and ample amount of road feedback.
For daily commutes, the Evo is less inspiring, mostly because the ride quality is rather stiff. That goes for the MR models as well, though their Bilstein dampers give them a touch more ride compliance. The excellent automated dual-clutch manual transmission makes the MR trim the clear choice for those who plan to commute in their Evo. Regardless of which version you choose, you'll have an immensely fun car with performance that's nearly impossible to beat for the price.