2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Review

Pros & Cons

  • One of the best-handling sedans available at any price, razor-sharp steering, ample turbocharged power, sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, stripped-down RS model offers serious bang for the buck.
  • Spartan interior, unforgiving highway ride, not much in the way of upscale amenities, no side airbags.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$2,255 - $4,481

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The Evo has established itself as one of the most thrilling sedans on the market this side of an M5. If you're willing to sacrifice a little ride quality and interior ambience for all-out performance, the Evo is hard to beat.

2005 Highlights

A new MR edition debuts that features a six-speed manual transmission, BBS one-piece forged alloy wheels, Bilstein shocks and an aluminum roof for a lower center of gravity. The all-wheel-drive system for all Evos now includes a front helical limited-slip differential and electronic active center differential (ACD). All models get a power boost of 5 horsepower and 13 pound-feet of torque. A larger cupholder is new this year, and all models get aluminum side-impact bars (to save weight). The standard Evo loses its HID headlamps (now optional), and all Evos lose the intercooler water spray feature (due to packaging for the ACD). The MR and RS get an aluminum roof panel, and the RS also gets thinner sheet metal in the deck lid (again, to save weight). Inside, all models get a revised meter cluster to include the ACD display.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Jerry Smith,06/03/2006
Overall the car is a excellent buy. I have no problems with the car. It has outstanding handeling in all weather and traffic conditions that are present in the Houston area. This is not a young person's car, it requires concentration and skill, when you make demands from the car it responds instantly. It takes some getting use to at first, then traffic or open road driving is no problem. I am considering buying my wife a Evo 10 as soon as they hit the dealers.
This car has everything
This is the ultimate car. It is VERY fast, and handles like you're bolted to the road. The seats hold you tight when taking the corners, and the Infinity stereo in it is phenominal for a factory system (optional Sun, Sound and Leather package - highly recommended). However, it also has mounting brackets for my son's car seat, and the trunk is big enough so I can easily fit a few sets of golf clubs. We have nasty winters, but with the AWD and a set of Blizzaks, this is the best winter car I've ever had (better than my wife's 4WD SUV). Considering the performance the gas milage is outstanding. I was looking for a daily driver that had everything, and this is it.
Awesome - but you'll pay to play
I've had my Evo VIII for 3 years now, and it's an awesome car. Great power, handling, and braking. The Recaro seats are awesome; plenty of room/trunk space. The AWD is wonderful - especially for winter driving (but you need snow tires). Downside is, everything about this car is expensive. Premium gas only, and unless you drive like an old man, you'll rarely get more than maybe 20- 21 mpg. Takes only synthetic motor oil. OEM Brembo brake pads cost over $300 per side, and keep up with pads because replacing rotors will cost you over a grand per side. OEM tires last about 10K miles, and cost over $300 per tire. That's just the wearables - replacing components costs more.
What a car!
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution RS model is for those strong enough to handle it. Ok, that might be a little dramatic, but when you're behind the wheel of this beast you feel as though nothing else can compare. Your freeway cockiness sky-rockets as you start to toy with Mustang GT's, GTO's, Camaro's, or any others who "claim" to have power. Timid youths soon become aggresive bullies of the road. And then, then you add your air intake, downpipe, turbo manifold, exhaust, boost controller, and fuel injectors. Now, this is when modesty sets in. Modesty because you no longer feel like anything else compares, you now know that nothing else compares. With $2,000 you'll be eating Cobra's and Corvette's for breakfast.

Features & Specs

17 city / 24 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
276 hp @ 6500 rpm
17 city / 24 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
276 hp @ 6500 rpm
17 city / 23 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
276 hp @ 6500 rpm
See all Used 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution features & specs
More about the 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
More About This Model

Cast as an underdog from Day One, the Lancer Evolution has quickly turned the tables and become the top dog in the rapidly changing world of replica rally racers. Upon introduction, its 271 horsepower seemed almost meager compared to the 300 ponies offered by Subaru's WRX STi, but since then it has gone on to demonstrate that when it comes to all-wheel-drive sport sedans, power isn't always everything. In a head-to-head shootout, we were more impressed with the Evo's tenacious grip and predictable handling than the STi's monster motor, ultimately crowning the Evo the winner.

As well received as the Evo has been by the press and enthusiasts alike, Mitsubishi hasn't exactly kicked back to savor its surprising competitiveness. Late last year it introduced the Evolution RS, a stripped-down, low-budget model designed for the weekend racer who could do without a radio and air conditioning in return for an Evo that weighs as little as possible. It was a determined and unlikely gesture from a major manufacturer, one that hearkened back to the days of the no-options muscle cars from the Big Three, but it also proved to be a tough sell given that most buyers do more than just autocross on the weekends.

For its latest addition to the Evo lineup, Mitsubishi took a different tack. Lightweight was again a focus point, but instead of achieving lost pounds through options attrition, the new MR sheds weight through high-tech components that push it to the top of the Evo food chain. A retuned suspension, lightweight bodywork and an extra cog in the gearbox are just some of the features that were added to the MR to give it that extra edge that enthusiasts crave. We drove it back to back with a standard model on the street and at the track to see just how much better an Evo can get. Is it one of the best handling sedans you can buy? Definitely. Is it worth the extra cost over the already nearly perfect standard model? We're not quite so sure just yet.

The bulk of the MR's upgrades lie within the drivetrain, although even there, the improvements are more subtle than substantive. The switch to a six-speed gearbox is a noticeable change but more so in feel than in flexibility. Gear spacing is nearly identical to the five-speed but the final drive ratio was upped slightly from 4.52 to 4.58 in the MR. Teflon-lined shift cables and shift-stroke stoppers were added to give a more fluid feel between gears and more positive engagements once you find the right gate.

Further on down the line, the MR (as well as all Evos for 2005) uses Mitsubishi's Active Center Differential (ACD) to manage the power between the front and rear wheels. Employing a center differential and a new hydraulic multiplate clutch, the ACD system is able to adjust the front and rear torque output for maximum traction based on numerous inputs like steering angle, throttle input, wheel speeds and slip angle. A dashboard switch allows you to choose between three different settings (tarmac, gravel and snow) that vary how much power is sent through the system. The MR also includes a helical front limited-slip differential like the one that debuted in the RS model last year.

A wet test track gave us the chance to try the new system out, but between a combination of ominous retaining walls and our lack of any serious rallying skills, we were barely able to detect much difference between the three settings. Fortunately, the revamped gearbox doesn't require WRC experience to appreciate, as its improvements are instantly apparent. There's good physical spacing between the gates and slamming it into gear returns a reassuring thunk. With nearly identical gear spacing to the five-speed box, there's not much of a difference in the overall speeds between the MR and the standard model. Slightly more aggressive gearing might make the six-speed more worthwhile, but as it is, there's not much to complain about.

The MR's list of upgrades doesn't stop there, however, as Mitsubishi sought to enhance the Evo's ride quality with a set of Bilstein shocks, lighter BBS wheels and an aluminum roof panel designed to lower the car's center of gravity. Between the wheels and the roof, the MR weighs in about 25 pounds less than a standard model. And like all Evos for 2005, the MR is motivated by a 276-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine — a 5-hp bump over last year's engine.

Like the gearbox, the changes to the MR's chassis tuning are subtle at best and invisible at worst. Mitsubishi's engineers tuned the MR on Germany's grueling Nurburgring test track in hopes of getting the MR dialed in just right. While we applaud the effort, toying with a car that already displays nearly perfect driving dynamics is a risky proposition. That said, when driven back to back with the standard model, we considered the MR a little sharper in transitions and slightly easier to predict at the limit. There were, however, other drivers on the same track who said they still preferred the overall feel of the base model over the MR.

All in attendance agreed that the Evo in either form is one of the most capable and entertaining track cars available today. The learning curve is as short as they come given that the car reacts with quick, predictable movements at every turn. With its fast steering ratio and minimal body roll, lining up the apexes is a point-and-shoot operation — and with so much stick, there's isn't a lot of tail swinging to keep control of. Thrashing the brakes does little to diminish their performance, and even the seats are perfectly formed to hold you in tight.

As focused as the MR is on performance, Mitsubishi saw to it that it also had a few exclusive cosmetic enhancements as well. On the inside, all MRs get an aluminum shift knob, aluminum pedals and a brake lever handle that incorporates both aluminum and carbon fiber. There's also an auxiliary gauge kit that resides just under the radio and includes dials for turbo boost, voltage and oil pressure. On the outside, the MR gets the option of an exclusive Graphite Gray paint color in addition to the lightweight BBS wheels (17-inch) and a unique vortex generator that resides on the back of the roof section. Contrary to its complex-sounding name, the vortex generator is merely a strip of specially designed fins that are designed to flow more air to the rear spoiler for added downforce.

Will you notice the added downforce behind the wheel? Not likely, unless you do some serious high-speed track running on a daily basis. Will you notice the MR's litany of other minor enhancements? That's a little more subjective. There's no doubt that the six-speed shifter serves up a much improved feel through the gears, but the likelihood that you'll get much out of the slightly reduced weight and retuned suspension is comparatively slim. If you're into exclusivity, the MR's special interior trim and exclusive gray color might get you some attention, but don't expect anyone but a hard-core Evo fan to notice. Since no pricing was announced at the time of our drive, we can't say for sure whether the new MR is worth the extra money, but for those who will do anything to get their hands on the ultimate Evo, the couple extra grand (est.) probably won't be much of a deterrent.

Used 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Overview

The Used 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is offered in the following submodels: Lancer Evolution Sedan. Available styles include RS 4dr Sport Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M), VIII 4dr Sport Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M), and MR Edition 4dr Sport Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M).

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Should I lease or buy a 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Mitsubishi lease specials
Check out Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution lease specials