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Mitsubishi Lancer/Evolution

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.

COMPETITORS

Honda Civic/Si

Ford Focus/ST

Subaru Impreza/WRX

Volkswagen Golf/GTI/R

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.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

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.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 17–25

HWY 22–33

PRO

Sharp handling, amazing grip

AWD optional on SE

Evo is a rally car for the street

CON

Hard interior plastics

Excessive wind and road noise

Base price range: $16,790–$38,790

SPECIFICATIONS

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

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