2006 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
$4,094 - $7,743

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 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, this Mitsubishi car is hard to beat.

Vehicle overview

Fans of the Speed Channel, World Rally Championship racing and PlayStation2 have long known of the seriously powerful and agile Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Now in its ninth iteration, the Lancer Evo is as impressive as ever. With countless WRC wins all over the world, totaling more than 30 World Rally Championships and four driver's titles, Mitsubishi is no stranger to building winning performance cars.

In 2003, Mitsubishi began offering its road-going version of the Lancer Evo to eager U.S. consumers who might otherwise be shopping for a an Impreza WRX. The Lancer Evolution is no mere Lancer LS with an appearance package added. Every part of the Mitsubishi car is specifically designed to achieve optimum performance -- ultimately the Lancer Evo is nothing less than a street-legal racecar. The hood and front fenders are formed from aluminum alloy to reduce weight; this helps give the Evo a weight distribution of 60/40.

While the local street is full of wanna-bes and poseurs, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is the real deal. You've got to wonder why so many front-wheel-drive cars have deck lid spoilers installed, but on the Lancer the optional carbon-fiber rear spoiler serves two purposes: First, it increases rigidity, and second, it adds downforce to the rear wheels -- something an all-wheel-drive car can actually benefit from.

The Lancer Evo boasts aggressive styling cues that are both cool-looking and functional. Nothing is worse than a hood scoop or fender bulge that serves no purpose other than to add weight and look silly. The Evo's hood uses functional heat expulsion vents and the large opening in the front bumper fascia boosts performance by making the intercooler more efficient. The Lancer Evo also sports Yokohama tires made of a special compound that maximizes grip. To accommodate the sticky 235/45R17 tires and lower suspension, the Evo's front fenders are noticeably wider than a regular Lancer's. A name change and minor redesign accompanies the Evolution IX into 2006. Variable valve timing has been added to the car's turbocharged four-cylinder, resulting in better low- to midrange response. A new turbo housing and muffler design are also part of the upgrade; horsepower is now rated at 286. The interior and exterior also get refinements.

Further evidence of the Lancer Evo's serious nature is special touches like the factory-installed rear-window wiper, enlarged exhaust and lightweight Enkei wheels. Die-hard driving enthusiasts have even more reason to savor the 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with the RS version that strips the car down to its bare essentials, and the MR Edition that boasts a six-speed manual tranny, a retuned suspension and lightweight BBS wheels. Think of the RS as the rally prep package as it deletes amenities in favor of saving weight. Gone are the power windows and door locks, sound-deadening materials and antilock brakes. What's left is one of the most potent -- and affordable -- performance sedans on the market.

2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution models

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution sedan is available in three trims: base IX, RS and MR Edition. The base Evo offers features such as 17-inch Enkei wheels; air conditioning; power windows, mirrors and locks; a CD player; and a tilt steering wheel. The RS edition is essentially a stripped-down iteration of the standard car for those who want the most bang for the least amount of buck. It lacks amenities like power windows and locks and has thinner sheet metal and aluminum panels to reduce curb weight (about 50 pounds less than the base Evo). The top-line MR Edition includes Bilstein shocks, BBS wheels, HID headlights, exclusive trim pieces and unique badging. Options, depending on the trim level, include leather seating, a 315-watt Infinity sound system, an in-dash six-CD changer, a power sunroof and a carbon-fiber rear spoiler.

2006 Highlights

Called the Evolution IX, the 2006 Evo isn't an all-new car, but a mechanical and aesthetic face-lift of the VIII generation. Mitsubishi has added variable valve timing to the car's turbocharged four-cylinder, resulting in better low-to-midrange response. A new turbo housing and muffler design are also part of the upgrade; horsepower is now rated at 286 (10 more than last year). The five-speed manual in base and RS models gets tighter gear ratios. Additionally, the front fascia and grille are new, as are the smoked front and rear lamp bezels. The base and RS get lighter-weight Enkei alloy wheels. Inside, you'll find Recaro front seats with Alcantara upholstery and leather bolsters. The rear seats are restyled, and various interior trim pieces are revised.

Performance & mpg

All Lancer Evo models come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four rated at an impressive 286 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque. Power is delivered via a five-speed manual transmission on base and RS models, and a six-speed unit in the MR. An automatic transmission is not available. Standard on every Evo is a full-time all-wheel-drive system with an adjustable active center differential and limited-slip front and rear differentials. Expect 0-to-60 times in the mid-5-second range.


A Brembo brake system with ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution is standard on the base Evo and MR; ABS is deleted from the RS as part of its lighter-weight mission. Side airbags are not available. In NHTSA frontal crash tests, the standard Mitsubishi Lancer received four out of five stars for protection of the driver and front passenger. Side-impact tests resulted in a subpar two-star rating for front-passenger protection and four stars for rear passengers. In IIHS frontal-offset crash testing, the Lancer earned the top rating of "Good" and was named a "Best Pick."


With its ultraquick steering and race-tuned suspension, few cars can match the Lancer Evo's bang for the buck. The learning curve is as short as they come given that the car reacts with quick, predictable movements at every turn. Of course, at day's end the firm suspension can take its toll on your backside. This, along with the lack of cruise control, makes the 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution less than ideal for road trips, but its all-out performance nature will surely attract enthusiasts with a need for speed. The engine suffers almost no turbo lag and pulls hard from almost any rpm.


Inside, the Lancer Evo lives up to its race-winning image with well-bolstered Recaro seats. A thick-rimmed, leather-covered Momo steering wheel and large, easy-to-read gauges help keep the driver focused on the task at hand. Gauges glow red and are illuminated at all times to insure they remain legible day or night. The shifter is covered with leather or aluminum and offers a short throw to accommodate the free-revving engine.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Nothing Better in Its Class...
This is my third Evolution. I have test driven several Subaru STi's, but I keep coming back to the EVO. After smoking a Honda S2000 on the test drive...I fell in love with the MR. Honda drivers will not like the transmission, but red line racers will love every ounce of it. I bought this car for one reason and one reason only...PERFORMANCE! I have a loaded 2006 BMW 325xi for long drives. Everything else is my MR. Even my wife loves the car. Its gas mileage is awesome, considering the performance output. If you love performance...do yourself a favor and take a test drive before they are all sold.
Monster Car
The Lancer Evolution MR is safe and fun at the same time. With the four doors I'm able to fit my little boy in the back seat and three more adults.
Just Great
This car is the best bang for the buck you can get. I used to have an Eclipse, and this car builds on that fun factor. It is very solid at high speeds and will get you in trouble if you don't watch out. Its gas mileage isn't as good as it was in my Eclipse, but that is expected since you're on an AWD platform now. I prefer this car much more over the looks of the STi.
Fun Car to Drive
The EVO is the best car to drive. The reason is that you will never have more fun than any other car while you drive. I had many cars and nothing compares to the EVO. However, if you don't own an EVO you should go and get yours now because they are almost sold out in the United States.

Features & Specs

17 city / 23 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
286 hp @ 6500 rpm
17 city / 23 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
286 hp @ 6500 rpm
16 city / 22 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
286 hp @ 6500 rpm
See all Used 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution features & specs
More about the 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
More About This Model

Mitsubishi's Okazaki proving grounds is hallowed real estate, sacred ground. It's the Yankee Stadium of the sport compact performance-car world, a place where legends were born.

Located a half hour southeast of Nagoya, the massive facility is where every Mitsubishi Evolution since the 1993 Evo II has been developed, where five generations of Lancer sedans have become seven of the world's all-time greatest street cars. And it's there — hidden behind a huge wall of rock, cement and tall, lush trees — where the new, more powerful 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX was waiting for us.

Two actually. Mitsu had a blue 2006 Evo IX and a silver 2006 Evo IX MR for us to drive. Both U.S. spec. The RS (the stripper/no-frills version) will still be offered, but was not made available to us.

This fall, the IX will replace the Evolution VIII, which was the first Evo sold in the U.S. But the IX is not an all-new car, which is what the Evo X is promised to be. Instead, it's a mechanical and aesthetic face-lift of the VIII. And it's really well done.

New Look
First of all, the car looks better. The headlights and taillights have been smoked dark and the split grille, which was always a bit too Pontiac for our taste, has been replaced with one large opening like Mitsubishi had on the Evo VII.

Underneath the front bumper are larger, reshaped openings that more tightly surround the huge front-mounted intercooler and two small circular air scoops, which direct air to the intake plumbing to cool the intake charge. The cars we sampled were also equipped with a front air dam extension that will be packaged in the accessories catalog with a Gurney Flap for the trailing edge of the rear spoiler.

Better Aero
Hiroshi Fujii, the platform manager for the Evo in Mitsubishi's research and development department, tells us the air dam extension enhances front downforce by expanding a lower pressure area under the car, and the Gurney Flap improves rear downforce. The result, according to "Dr. Evo," which is what they call him, is greater high-speed stability, driving linearity, steering response, yaw damping and steering feedback.

We confirmed this on a huge oval track with ridiculously steep banking, where we played Jeff Gordon and Little "E" at over 135 mph and experienced none of that dreaded aero push those boys are always complaining about. At that speed you can actually feel the centrifugal force pulling the blood out of your brain, and most passengers were ready to hurl after just a lap or two. But the IX was so locked in, even when running up next to the guardrail, that it could be driven with one hand.

The last of the exterior changes are new double-spoke Enkei wheels, which are 5 ounces lighter than the very lightweight rims they replace. The BBS wheels on the MR version are unchanged.

More Power
With some revisions, Dr. Evo and his team of evil engineers squeezed another 10 horsepower and 3 pound-feet of torque from the Evo's 2.0-liter double-overhead-cam four-cylinder. Total output is up to 286 hp at 6,500 rpm and 289 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm.

Those revisions are a larger turbo, which reduces lag by 5 percent, new spark plugs with longer threads that help cool combustion chamber temperatures, a timing belt now made of rubber and nylon fiber for added strength and durability, a new magnesium center cover and a reshaped oil ring that the good doctor says will reduce oil consumption by 10 percent.

MIVEC, or Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing and lift Electronic Control, has also been added to the mix. It's Mitsubishi's variable valve timing system, and it has improved the midrange torque of the 4G63 engine. Its 7,000-rpm redline is unchanged.

Shorter Gearing
To make use of the engine's flatter torque curve, the five-speed in the RS and straight IX has been given tighter ratios. The six-speed in the MR is unchanged, as are the suspension, brakes and all-wheel-drive system on all three models.

Sadly, so is the 5,500-rpm rev limiter in first gear, which is active only if the car isn't moving. Mitsubishi says this is to protect the front pinion shaft in American market cars, which are 100 pounds heavier to meet U.S. crash standards and fitted with stickier tires than European or Japanese market Evos.

Although the engine and transmission mods may improve acceleration times, the real benefits are better around-town drivability and more yank accelerating out of slow second-gear corners. On the proving grounds road course, which included two hairpins, a 110-mph straightaway and a jump, the blue IX felt a bit quicker pulling out of the hairpins than the silver MR.

Nicer Interior
Only real Evoheads will notice this stuff, but the Momo steering wheel now has dark titanium spokes instead of silver, the seats are covered in suedelike Alcantara with leather side bolsters and the IX and MR, but not the RS, get aluminum pedals and a carbon-fiber-style instrument panel.

We Want One
The Evo was already the greatest performance-car buy on the market, with starting prices of $28,504 for the RS, $31,274 for the straight VIII and $35,274 for the MR. The revised 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX is better and should cost just $500 more across the board. Make ours a black MR with a Gurney Flap.

Used 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Overview

The Used 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is offered in the following submodels: Lancer Evolution Sedan. Available styles include IX 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M), RS 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M), and MR Edition 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M).

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Which used 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 2006 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