Both ends of the all-wheel-drive spectrum.
The Lancer Evolution is essentially unchanged for the 2013 model year, meaning it remains a brash, 291-hp rally weapon — and the lone enthusiast model in Mitsubishi’s portfolio. All-wheel drive isn’t restricted to the top-tier Evo range. Mitsubishi added all-wheel drive to its midrange Lancer SE trim last year. Its 2.4-liter in-line four and CVT might not set the heart aflutter, but buyers looking for an Evo lite should enjoy the turbocharged Lancer Ralliart, which boasts 237 hp, an upgraded all-wheel-drive system with limited slip front and rear differentials, and an active center diff. Mitsubishi does a decent job of infusing some of the Evo’s spirit across the Lancer portfolio; as a result, even front-wheel-drive models feel taut, sharp, and fairly tactile. We’d elect to skip the 2.0-liter engine in the DE and the ES; the 2.4-liter four-banger found in the SE and the GTS provides a fair amount of torque and is rather peppy. Refinement continues to be the Lancer’s Achilles’ heel, even in Evo form. New color cluster displays, fortified audio systems, and leather-wrapped steering wheels are nice, but they don’t hide the fact that the Lancer’s interior materials are surprisingly basic and road noise is considerable. Still, for buyers wanting a little fun at an affordable price, the Lancer remains an interesting option.
new for 2013
The all-wheel-drive Lancer SE model gains new aluminum wheels and an optional premium package, which includes a sunroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, soft-touch door trim, and an upgraded audio system.
Front, side, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; ABS; a tire-pressure monitoring system; and stability and traction control are standard, as is an antitheft alarm system on ES, SE, GTS, Ralliart, and Evolution models.
Sharp handling, amazing grip
AWD optional on SE
Evo is a rally car for the street
Hard interior plastics
Excessive wind and road noise
Base price range: $16,790–$38,790
DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: DE, ES, SE, GTS, Ralliart, Evolution GSR, Evolution MR
BODY STYLES: Sedan, hatchback, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.0L I-4, 143/152 hp, 143/146 lb-ft
2.0L turbo I-4, 237/291 hp, 253/300 lb-ft
2.4L I-4, 168 hp, 167 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 5- or 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic, continuously variable
PASSENGER VOLUME: (sedan/wagon) 94.8/94.5 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (sedan) 11.3 cu ft; (hatchback, seats up/down) 13.8/46.6 cu ft