Full 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Review
What's New for 2010
After a one-year hiatus, the Lancer Evolution is back for 2010 with minor changes on top of its 2008 redesign. A new luxury-themed MR Touring trim level debuts, while all Evo versions benefit from a shorter radio antenna, more aggressive side sill extensions, a color multifunction display and a leather-wrapped parking brake handle.
The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is one of those rare cars that inspires fanaticism so fierce, its loyalists would rather drink used motor oil than drive the chief rival -- in this case, the equally stupendous Subaru WRX STI. Like its nemesis, Mitsubishi's iconic, rally-inspired road burner is based on a compact economy car. As an ultra-high-performance version of the Lancer, the Evolution starts with that sedan's basic architecture and adds a potent turbocharged engine, a highly sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and extensive upgrades to improve handling and braking.
This year, all Evos receive new black-accented taillights, larger side-sill extensions, a shorter radio antenna, a new color multifunction display, a leather-wrapped parking brake handle, covered cupholders and standard-across-the-line Bluetooth. Bigger news is the debut of the MR Touring trim level, which slots in at the top of the Evo line. With "Mr. T," a more covert lip spoiler replaces the big deck lid wing, and high-buck features (such as leather seating and additional sound insulation) have been added to make this Evo a bit more appealing for those who have a need for luxury as well as speed.
The other two trims stay the course, meaning the hard-core GSR still comes only with a five-speed manual transmission and an aggressive sport-tuned suspension, while the uplevel MR continues to offer more sophisticated Bilstein dampers and comes only with Mitsubishi's responsive automated-clutch manual gearbox (which can also operate as a traditional automatic.) The latter is among the best transmissions of its type available, as it changes gears in an eye-blink whether you're flicking the paddles while driving at 10/10ths on a racetrack or just leaving in it "D" as you deal with the cut-and-thrust of city traffic.
Like its predecessors, the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution sends its considerable thrust to all four wheels. But thanks to what's dubbed Super All-Wheel Control, the Evo feels more like a well-balanced rear-drive car. That system incorporates an active center differential that works in concert with Active Yaw Control (which constantly analyzes various vehicle dynamic factors) to maximize grip and balance.
All that engineering magic means the Evo can jump to 60 mph in about 5 seconds flat and pull nearly 1 g (0.99 to be exact) in lateral acceleration, which is supercar territory. Throw in sublimely responsive steering and the Evo becomes one of the best-performing cars at any price.
With an MSRP starting at about $34,000, the Evo's pricing is similar to sports cars/coupes such as the Nissan 370Z and upscale versions of the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. But its true rival is the aforementioned Subaru. The STI offers a slightly nicer interior and the versatility of a hatchback body style, but it's not quite as dialed in on twisting back roads. Our staff agrees that the Evolution is not only better-looking than the oddball STI, but also the winner when it comes to the all-important fun-to-drive factor.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a high-performance compact sedan available in GSR, MR and MR Touring trim levels.
Standard equipment on the GSR includes 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, foglights, full power accessories, keyless entry, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio controls, Recaro sport bucket seats, Bluetooth and a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. The MR is similar but has BBS alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, a larger rear wing and softer suspension calibrations. The MR Touring injects a healthy dose of luxury via a sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, leather seating, heated front seats and additional sound insulation.
Optional on the GSR is the Sight, Sound and Spoiler Package, which adds xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry, the MR's larger rear spoiler and a Rockford Fosgate sound system with 10-inch subwoofer, satellite radio and an in-dash six-CD changer. The MR and MR Touring come standard with the Rockford Fosgate audio system and can also be had with a hard-drive-based navigation system that also boasts 40GB of digital music storage.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2010 Evos are powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that pumps out 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The GSR comes only with a five-speed manual, while the MR and MR Touring are equipped with Mitsubishi's excellent six-speed automated-clutch manual transmission with paddle shifters. Power is sent to all four wheels through an advanced all-wheel-drive system.
Acceleration with any Evo is sizzling -- we've timed a GSR at just 4.9 seconds for the 0-60-mph dash and 13.6 seconds for a blast down the quarter-mile. EPA-estimated fuel economy estimates stand at 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined for the GSR and 17/22/19 for the MR versions.
Standard safety features on the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution include front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver's knee airbag. The Evo also comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control and a variety of advanced handling technologies.
The Evolution hasn't been crash tested; however, in government tests the regular Lancer scored a top-rated five stars for the driver and four stars for the front passenger in frontal impact protection. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal-offset and side-impact tests, the regular Lancer earned the top rating of "Good."
Interior Design and Special Features
The Evo's interior is far more sedate than its flamboyantly aggressive exterior. Recaro sport bucket seats, alloy foot pedals, fancier gauges and a different steering wheel are the only things that differentiate the spicy Evo from the vanilla Lancer GTS. Those Recaros are highly supportive and comfortable, but the driver seat's lack of a height adjustment and the steering wheel's tilt-only column make finding an ideal driving position difficult for many drivers -- not just tall ones.
Most of the interior materials are the same as those on the regular Lancer, which is to say that they're fine for an economy car but perhaps disappointing for a vehicle costing about $35,000. The Evo's utility is actually less than the regular Lancer's, as the rear seats don't fold down and the battery and washer fluid reservoir have been relocated to the trunk for better weight distribution. Total trunk space is just 7 cubic feet.
The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a sports car in compact sedan clothing. The advanced all-wheel-drive system works behind the scenes to give the car very impressive handling and traction abilities. Spirited drivers will also appreciate the Evo's ultra-responsive steering and ample amount of road feedback.
For daily commutes, the Evo is less inspiring, mostly because the ride quality is rather stiff. That goes for the MR models, too, though their Bilstein dampers give them a touch more ride compliance. The excellent automated dual-clutch manual transmission makes the MR trims the clear choice for those who plan to commute in their Evos. Regardless of which model you choose, you'll have an immensely fun car with performance that's nearly impossible to beat for the price.