New for 2015
The Mitsubishi Lancer remains largely unchanged for the 2015 model year but adds heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals to all models and makes a number of changes to features and packages, including adding a CVT to ES trims and high-contrast white stitching to GT models. 2015 also marks the last year of production for the high-performance Evolution model.
The Mitsubishi Lancer is a compact sedan that offers a range of available models, from the basic ES to the powerful Evolution. The Lancer sits above the Mirage as the sole sedan offered in the Mitsubishi lineup.
A pair of four-cylinder engines powers the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer. The more powerful models get a turbocharger and all-wheel drive. The standard engine is a 2.0-liter I-4 that makes 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque and can be connected to either a five-speed manual or CVT that drives the front wheels. The CVT gets an EPA-estimated 26/34 mpg city/highway, and the manual is just 1 mpg less in the city. A larger 2.4-liter I-4, which makes 168 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque, can be equipped with an electronically controlled AWD system over the standard FWD. EPA estimates 23/30 mpg for the larger I-4 with the CVT and FWD, 22/31 mpg with the manual FWD, and 22/29 mpg with the CVT and AWD. Without stepping up to the pricier Evolution models, enthusiasts can get a turbocharged version of the ES’ 2.0-liter I-4 that makes 237 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque. This comes paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic (similar to the one found on Evolution models) on the Ralliart, which gets a permanent AWD system, instead of the system in the SE, which is selectable. Evolution models (the GSR and MR) add an intercooler to the same turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 found in the Ralliart and an increase in boost for an output of 291 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. It comes paired with the six-speed dual-clutch in the MR and a five-speed manual in the GSR. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17/23 mpg (or 22 on the highway with the automatic), but we found it to be quite thirsty when driven hard.
Notable features on the 2015 Lancer include a rearview camera, heated front seats, passive keyless entry and start, Bluetooth streaming audio, HID headlights, a 6.1-inch infotainment screen, and a Rockford Fosgate premium audio system.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer received a four-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars) and is considered a 2015 Top Safety Pick by the IIHS. The Lancer Evolution, however, has not been rated by either organization.
What We Think
2015 will be the last model year Mitsubishi makes the Lancer Evolution. The long-standing rivalry between the Evo and Subaru Impreza WRX will be coming to an end, at least in the U.S. The Lancer hasn’t kept up with the times, and the model is overdue for an update. Interior quality across the line is poor (lots of plastic inside), and fuel economy is nothing to write home about, when considered against others in the highly competitive compact segment.
In an Editor’s Notebook review of a 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR, we said: “The compromises needed to transform [a Lancer] into an Evo do it no favors: It costs a lot more, is much noisier, has a significantly smaller trunk, has the turning radius of a small pickup truck, and drinks gasoline like a large pickup truck. As a car, the Evo has almost nothing to recommend it … But as a performance machine? Well, that’s something rather different. Simply put, this is about as much fun as you can have for less than $40,000.”
Although the Evolution retains the cheap interior of the base Lancer, the car has been imbued with handling and performance that more than make up for the shortcomings. The “sharp and nicely weighted steering,” precise manual gearbox, perfectly positioned pedals, communicative handling, and gobs of power make a fast and predictable sports sedan. The shift paddles for the often clunky dual-clutch automatic are mounted on the steering column as opposed to the steering wheel, where they can be hard to reach with the wheel turned, a design trait that is also used by Ferrari. The Evo is thirsty, especially when kept on boost, but it’s a vehicle that begs to be driven hard. One editor summed the Evolution up nicely, saying: “This is purely a driver’s car. A driver’s car that will tackle any type of road you can find and completely engage you in the process.” We hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of it, but as Mitsubishi has not announced any plans for a successor, the saying “no time like the present” seems fitting for buyers contemplating a sporty Mitsubishi purchase.
- Handling of Evolution models
- Aggressive front styling
- Five-speed manual
You Won’t Like
- Cheap interior plastic
- Tiny trunk on Evolution models
- Thirsty turbo I-4
- Subaru Impreza
- Ford Focus
- Honda Civic
- Volkswagen Golf