Full 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution gets a new touchscreen audio interface and satellite radio as standard, along with a revamped optional navigation system.
The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is one of those rare cars aimed squarely at driving enthusiasts. It may look like a four-door economy sedan with an indiscrete wing on its rear deck, but when you get behind the wheel, you'll realize it's much more than that.
The Evo, as it's known among car enthusiasts, is arguably the best handling car available in its price range. Its communicative steering and amazing grip will blow your mind on twisty back roads and racetracks alike. The turbocharged Lancer Evolution has impressive straight-line speed as well, as only powerful V8 cars like the Chevy Camaro SS and Ford Mustang GT can keep up with it. What's more, the availability of both a conventional manual gearbox and an automated manual transmission makes Mitsubishi's all-wheel-drive performance sedan more accessible to commuters and anyone who would prefer not to deal with a clutch pedal.
Of course, no car is perfect, and the reason we aren't all driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evos has plenty to do with the car's polarizing exterior style and significant sacrifices in comfort. In trade for its stellar handling, you get a stiff ride on city streets. And apart from the Lancer Evolution's wonderfully supportive Recaro bucket seats, there's not much in the way of cabin ambience. The overall design is dated and the steering wheel doesn't offer telescope adjustment, so many drivers will have a hard time finding that just-right driving position.
More disappointing is the hard plastic on the dashboard and interior panels. The Lancer Evolution shares most of its interior pieces with the base Mitsubishi Lancer (reviewed separately), and they're tough to take in a car that costs nearly twice as much. Finally, there's the Evo's tiny trunk. With only 7 cubic feet of space, it's not remotely practical for long trips.
For years, the Subaru WRX STI has been the main rival to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. The Subaru has always had similar capabilities, but, alas, no automated manual transmission option. This could very well change in the upcoming redesign of the WRX (slated for 2014), but details were scant at the time of this writing. If you like the idea of the Evo but want more space and comfort, you might consider the 2014 Ford Focus ST. The front-drive Ford doesn't touch the Evo's performance, but it's significantly less expensive and still provides its fair share of driving thrills. If you need only two seats, you might consider the rear-drive Nissan 370Z, which is also known for its stellar handling and quick acceleration. On the higher end, the surprisingly quick and vastly more refined BMW 135i coupe is worth a look.
Ultimately, the desirability of the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution has everything to do with how you plan to drive it. If you're a hard-core enthusiast and you plan to take your car to track days, the Evo is still our top recommendation in this price range.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a high-performance compact sedan available in GSR and MR trim levels that correspond to the transmission choices. The GSR comes with a conventional five-speed manual transmission, while the MR gets the automated manual "Sportronic" transmission with shift paddles.
Standard equipment on the GSR includes 18-inch alloy wheels; foglights; a large rear spoiler; full power accessories; automatic climate control; cruise control; keyless entry; a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel; Recaro sport bucket seats; Mitsubishi's Fuse voice-activated electronics interface; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and a six-speaker sound system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and satellite radio. The MR adds lighter-weight BBS forged alloy wheels, two-piece front brake rotors, a smaller rear lip spoiler, height-adjustable xenon headlamps and a slightly softer suspension calibration.
Optional on the GSR is the Sight and Sound package, which adds the MR's adjustable xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system with a 10-inch subwoofer. For added luxury, there's the Sunroof and Leather package, which adds a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, added sound insulation and an upgraded center console with covered bins. An Exterior package adds an aero body kit that includes side skirts and an even larger rear spoiler.
Available on the MR trim is the Premium package, which includes the Rockford Fosgate audio system, chrome exterior trim, leather and faux-suede upholstery, keyless ignition/entry and the upgraded center console. A Touring package is also available and adds the sunroof, heated mirrors, automatic headlights and wipers, full leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and added sound insulation.
Either trim level can also be had with a navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen interface. Rear parking sensors are also available.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2014 Lancer Evolution is 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 transmission, while the MR is equipped with Mitsubishi's excellent six-speed automated manual transmission with shift paddles on the steering column. Power is sent to all four wheels through an advanced all-wheel-drive system.
Acceleration for either Evo is impressive. In Edmunds performance testing, a GSR required only 4.9 seconds to sprint from zero to 60, while the MR did it in 5 flat. Fuel economy stands at an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city/ 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined for the GSR and 17/22/19 for the MR.
Standard safety features for the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution include antilock brakes, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag, stability and traction control and a variety of advanced handling technologies. Rear parking sensors are optional.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Lancer Evolution came to a stop from 60 mph in a short 113 feet. In government crash testing, the regular Lancer, on which the Evolution is based, received four out of five stars for overall crashworthiness, along with four stars for frontal- and side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Lancer its top score of "Good" in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Evo's interior is tame compared with its aggressive exterior styling. Recaro sport bucket seats, aluminum covers for the pedals, fancier gauges and a different steering wheel are the only significant things that differentiate the spicy Evo from the commonplace Lancer. 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 below average for an economy car and downright disappointing for a vehicle in this price range. Soft-touch door panels are at least standard on the Evo, whereas they're optional on the Lancer.
The Evo has less utility than the regular Lancer, because its 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 as a result, which is useless for any significant cargo needs. Adding the optional stereo upgrade with its massive trunk-mounted subwoofer further reduces that capacity.
On the plus side, most controls are within easy reach and simple in operation, and the standard Fuse voice activation system makes some audio and navigation functions a hands-free affair.
The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a sports car in compact sedan clothing. The advanced all-wheel-drive system works transparently to give the car very impressive handling and traction abilities. Enthusiast 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 stiff. That goes for the MR models as well, though their Bilstein dampers give them a touch more ride compliance. The excellent automated dual-clutch manual transmission makes the MR trim the clear choice for those who plan to commute in their Evo. Regardless of which version you choose, you'll have an immensely fun car, with performance that's nearly impossible to beat for the price.