Evo enthusiasts, fret not. Despite rumors suggesting your vaunted, street-legal rally weapon is dead after 2012, officials have confirmed that the car will live on for the 2012 and 2013 model years. That said, don’t expect many changes in the next few years. Instead, Mitsubishi is focusing on tweaking its less-expensive, higher-volume Lancer variants. For 2012, it has added yet another way to purchase a Lancer with all-wheel drive, which was once the exclusive domain of the Evo line. In addition to the turbocharged Lancer Ralliart, a new Lancer SE sedan mates the company’s AWC (All-Wheel Control) system to a normally aspirated, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a continuously variable transmission. While the Evolution’s razor-sharp steering rack and insane power continue to entertain, lesser Lancers aren’t complete bores. Mitsubishi does a commendable job of infusing the Evo’s playful spirit across the lineup; as a result, even front-wheel-drive models feel taut, sharp, and fairly tactile. We’d elect to skip the 2.0-liter I-4 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. Where the Lancer line–Evo and all–lags is in refinement. Compared to other cars in this segment, the Lancer’s interior is surprisingly basic, and road noise is considerable. Still, for buyers wanting a little fun at an affordable price, the Lancer remains worth considering.
Drive: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim Levels: DE, ES, GTS, SE, Ralliart, Evolution GSR, Evolution MR
Body styles: Sedan, wagon, 5-passenger
Engines: 2.0L I-4, 143/152 hp, 143/146 lb-ft
2.0L turbo I-4, 237 hp, 253 lb-ft
2.0L turbo I-4, 295 hp, 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/hatchback)
94.8/94.5 cu ft
Cargo space: (sedan) 11.3 cu ft; (Sportback, seats up/down) 13.8/46.6 cu ft
The Lancer and the Lancer Evolution remain largely unchanged, but a new Lancer SE model adds all-wheel drive, which was previously available only on Evo and Ralliart models.
Front, side, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; ABS; electronic brake-force distribution; 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.
All: 17-25 mpg city/22-23 mpg highway
- Sharp handling, amazing grip
- AWD now optional on SE
- Evo is a rally car for the street
- Hard interior plastics
- Excessive wind, road noise
All-wheel drive trickles down.
- Honda Civic/Si
- Ford Focus/ST
- Subaru Impreza/WRX
- Volkswagen Golf/GTI/R