2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2002 to 2006.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution accelerates much like a Porsche 911 or Chevrolet Corvette, offers impressive grip with its sophisticated all-wheel drive and has the practicality of a nicely designed small sedan—all for a reasonable price.
One need not live in a warm-weather climate to enjoy driving the Evolution all months of the year, thanks largely to its all-wheel drive. Besides its blistering performance, the "Evo," as it's affectionately called, has a solid race-rally heritage. That's a fact especially well-known to members of the young go-fast crowd.
In fact, the Evolution and Subaru's Impreza WRX are the only cars sold in America with a strong international race-rally reputation. They're featured in hot-selling video racing games, often played by persons too young to drive.
Prime Image Car
Unfortunately, Mitsubishi showrooms aren't visited as much as those of better-known Japanese rivals, such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan, which sell nothing comparable to the Evolution.
The turbocharged and intercooled engine has dual overhead camshafts, 16 valves and Mitsubishi's Innovative Valve timing and Electronic Control (MIVEC) system. MIVEC is a mouthful, but helps optimize valve timing for more torque and horsepower while improving fuel economy across the engine rev range and moving the tachometer redline to a lofty 7000 rpm.
However, Mitsubishi says more power wasn't its top priority. Rather, the automaker was shooting for what it describes as "the intricate coordination between engine output and handling performance."
My test Evolution was lazy for a few seconds when moving from a standing start, which means it probably won't be the first vehicle to cross an intersection. And acceleration is average in stop-and-go traffic.
No automatic transmission is offered, but there's so much power and torque that a driver need not constantly shift to get the best acceleration. Even a 65-80 mph passing maneuver doesn't take very long in sixth gear, although a downshift to fifth or fourth gear provides extremely quick passing.
Practical Daily Use
The front Recaro performance bucket seats with substantial leather side bolsters hold occupants in place during quick maneuvers, but it's very difficult to adjust the seatbacks with the doors closed because their controls are set too low and too far back. Main gauge markings don't stand out in bright sunlight, but climate controls are large and radio controls are clearly marked.
The trunk is fairly large, but has a rather high opening that's somewhat narrow.
The "Evo" comes as the $28,679 RS, midrange $31,399 IX and top-line $35,189 IX MR, which I tested.
Estimated fuel economy is 18-19 mpg in the city and 24-25 on highways.
The revised front end of the Evolution gives it a ferocious look, but its huge rear spoiler "wing," which provides more stability at high speeds, occasionally led me to momentarily think that a car was closely following me when I glanced in the rear-view mirror.
Fairly Well Equipped
Safety features include the all-wheel drive, which relays engine power and torque to the road with an active center differential and front/ rear limited-slip differentials.
Stopping power is impressive, with anti-lock brakes that have good pedal feel and electronic brake force distribution on the IX and MR. All trim levels have wide tires on restyled, high-strength 17-inch alloy wheels.
A light aluminum roof, which is a "first" for a Japanese production model, lowers weight and the center of gravity for crisper handling.
No Tricks Missed
Average motorists wouldn't appreciate such esoteric stuff, but the Lancer Evolution isn't aimed at them. Rather, it's a niche vehicle for car enthusiasts who love fast, high-tech autos.