2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Review

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Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Excellent steering and overall grip, potent turbocharged engine, long features list, available automated-clutch manual gearbox.
  • Tilt-only steering wheel, regular Lancer interior materials don't match the car's price.

Die-hard Evo fans may be wary of a more civilized 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, but this one hasn't lost its overall touch. It's one of the best-performing cars for under $40,000.

Vehicle overview

If you think that the Mitsubishi Evolution X is some sort of crossover along the lines of the Taurus X, stop reading. There'll be a gang of crazed gearheads with torches and pitchforks at your door momentarily. They know that the X is in fact a Roman numeral indicating the 10th generation of Mitsubishi's iconic all-wheel-drive, rally-inspired sport compact sedan. The reason you might not recall previous incarnations is because the "Evo" didn't show up on this side of the Pacific until midway through 2003, and by then it was already in Evo VIII form. That's how legendary this car is -- it had a fan base without even being sold in this country.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is entirely new and based on the similarly redesigned 2008 Lancer compact sedan. As before, it's a high-performance version, with a potent turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive and related upgrades to improve handling and braking. The Evo X, however, is meant to be more refined and accessible to a wider range of buyers. It starts with the new Lancer platform; a slightly longer wheelbase and a much stiffer body structure give the 2008 Evolution a more substantial feel. The Evolution also benefits from the Lancer's sharper exterior styling, improved interior and new entertainment and safety features.

However, while its styling and newfound creature comforts are key to bringing new folks into the Evo cult, maintaining the performance and handling that created that cult in the first place is paramount. On that front, the Evo X is a mixed bag. Specifically, the new Lancer has gained weight over its predecessor, which wipes out the added horsepower gained by its all-new aluminum block (versus iron) turbocharged inline-4. When comparing acceleration numbers from this and the prior generation, the two work out to nearly even. The new engine is certainly a smoother operator, however, cleanly building boost in a linear manner even at low engine speeds. It doesn't have the same high-rpm kick as its predecessor, but it's still a hell-raiser and easier to live with.

There are two Evo varieties available. The GSR is aimed at the more hard-core enthusiast set, with more aggressive suspension settings and a standard five-speed manual transmission. The MR not only sports a softer suspension, it features Mitsubishi's new automated twin-clutch manual transmission that's operated via metal paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. (It can also operate as a traditional automatic.) This transmission swaps ratios with lightning-quick precision, which is welcome regardless of whether you're driving at 10/10ths or just turning your brain off and leaving it in "D."

Like past Evos, the X sends power to all four wheels, but this one manages to feel more rear-biased in the way it drives and handles. Credit the fact that this is more than simply all-wheel drive. Dubbed Super All-Wheel Control, Mitsubishi's system features an active center differential that sends power to all four wheels, while Active Yaw Control calculates various vehicle dynamic factors and compensates to maximize grip. With a hard launch, you can expect a 0-60 mph time of about 5.0 seconds. And around our skid pad, the GSR managed an impressive 0.99g of grip, which is supercar territory. Throw in sublime steering and the Evo X becomes one of the best-performing cars at any price.

With an MSRP starting at about $33,000, the Evo is in the same general price range as sports cars or coupes like the Nissan 350Z or upscale versions of the Ford Mustang. But there's really only one true competitor: the Subaru WRX STI. Both cars are fully redesigned for 2008, and both take a similar route in their evolution (pun intended) by focusing on creature comforts and overall refinement to appeal to more buyers. While the STI features a nicer interior, its hatchback-only body style is rather controversial in terms of styling. And it's just not styling that the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution has on its side -- we've found it to be more fun and playful in nature than the STI, too. While some will miss the high-strung nature of the previous Evo, the new car is much better all around. For a performance car, it's not to be missed.

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution models

The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a high-performance compact sedan available in GSR and MR trim levels. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, foglights, full power accessories, keyless entry, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, Recaro sport bucket seats and a six-speaker stereo with single-CD player. The MR is similar but has BBS alloy wheels, softer shock absorbers and springs, HID xenon headlamps, a larger rear wing, Bluetooth and steering wheel audio controls.

Optional on the GSR is the Sight, Sound and Spoiler Package, which adds HID headlights, 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 Technology Package adds keyless ignition/entry, the Rockford Fosgate sound system and Mitsubishi's hard disk-based navigation system with digital music storage system.

2008 Highlights

After a one-year hiatus, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution returns for 2008. Based on the similarly redesigned Lancer, the new Evo is more refined and boasts a new engine, an available automated-clutch sequential-shift manual transmission and new features like a hard-drive-based navigation system.

Performance & mpg

The 2008 Evo 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, while the MR is equipped with Mitsubishi's new six-speed automated-clutch manual transmission with paddle shifters. Power is sent to all four wheels through an advanced all-wheel-drive system. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway for the MR version.


Standard safety features on the 2008 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 driver frontal impact protection and front seat side impact protection. It received four stars for front passenger frontal protection and rear passenger side protection. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal-offset crash test, the regular Lancer managed the top rating of "Good."


The redesigned 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a sports car in sedan clothing. The advanced all-wheel-drive system works behind the scenes to give the car very impressive handling and traction abilities. The car's steering is not as quick as the previous model's, but it's still very responsive. Among the two Evo varieties, the MR trades a bit of the GSR's sharpness for a softer ride. Plus, with its paddle-shift automated-clutch manual transmission, it's definitely the choice for those who don't want a hard-core rally-ready sedan 100 percent of the time. Owners of the last-generation Evo IX may find the new car lacks the same hair-trigger steering response and that some of the overall connection between man and machine has been lost. Still, the 2008 Evo X is one heck of a fun car that's nearly impossible to beat for the money.


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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

3.75 out of 5 stars
Great Car Horrible Warranty
GSR 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
i bought the car with high hopes for the first month loved it fun to drive great car but i started to notice little issues with the transmission it progressively got worse it started to pop second out when you down shift so i took it back to mitsubishi and there service dept. is horrible gave me the run around every time i call they say there going to call me back i have to keep calling them they didn't even provide me a rental took them a week to remove the transmission and now i have to wait for mitsubishi to give the ok to repair or replace it during all this im paying for a car that i cant drive and mitsubishi wont give me a rental but they expect me to pay
4.88 out of 5 stars
Amazing Evo X
GSR 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
This AMAZING car is my daily driver and our family car for almost 2 years now. It's very reliable, safe, and SCARY-FAST around the curves, due to it's superb AWD system. It has an extremely responsive handling on asphalt and is very nimble in the pouring rain. It truly is a great TUNER'S car and the 4B11T engine will easily handle 400hp to 500hp:) The interior is mediocre and the trunk is tiny, but the Recaro seats and RockFord sound system are excellent. Gas mileage isn't too bad, my average is 24-26mpg on the hwy. Draft behind an SUV within my 40 mile commute and my 450hp Evo can get 26-28mpg. Considering price and performance potential, the Evo is hard to beat.
4 out of 5 stars
1 yr later with the Evo X MR. Still fun!
X MR Owner in LA ,04/06/2010
MR 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
Update after 1yr w/ the X MR. The X is a fun Daily w/SST; I use Manual more than AUTO. My commute is more city than hwy; MPG avg 14.7 over the yr. Interior scratches easily, esp the trim around the glove box & radio. Rear vis with wing is poor. SST autoshifts slow when cold. Storage space: It is what it is. Trunk for wknd trips is ok (two carry- ons); big items need to go in the backseat (dog carrier). Leather is easy to clean/just wipe down. Front seats are comfortable on long road trips. Perf in bad weather is confidence inspiring. Track (Willow Springs) perf is excellent! Turn off ASC and it's Point and Shoot. Helmet clearance is not a prob-I'm 5'9". This X is way better than any XBox.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Too Early to tell.
Steven Soriano,01/28/2008
GSR 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
Gosh, I just got the car two days ago. So far, it is more solid than I expected, not an econobox at all. I have the 5 speed. You are doing around 3,000 rpm at 65mph. It needs a sixth gear. At 100 miles the Service Engine Soon light came on. 1) I checked the gas cap and 2) I am sure it is nothing, but it is still a PITA to go to the dealer and drop it off. On the positive side, the car is fun with 5 seats. Give me a few weeks and I will give a good full review. Gotta break it in first.

More about the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
More About This Model

We're not sure how to say "oops" in Japanese.

Doesn't matter; we don't need to know. We just test the cars. We don't make them 250 pounds heavier. That's what Mitsubishi's engineers are for. In their efforts to make the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X stronger, more powerful and more luxurious, they made it heavier. A lot heavier. And heavier in this case means slower.

That's right, kids, the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X is slower than the Evo IX it's replacing. A lot slower.

Hey, don't shoot the messenger. Channel your anger toward Hiroshi Fujii, the platform manager for the Evo in Mitsubishi's research and development department, and the man they call Dr. Evo. It was Fujii and his team that created the Evo X, the largest, most refined and most technically advanced Evo ever.

Fujii's team has packed this all-wheel-drive, turbocharged sport sedan with active differentials, a dual-clutch semiautomatic gearbox and an all-new all-aluminum engine. They've strengthened its structure, fortified its five-speed manual transmission and added active stability control. Heck, it's the first Evo with a navigation system, HID headlamps and Bluetooth. It would seem that the doctor and his nurses spent years adding everything to the car except speed.

Oops, indeed.

How Much Slower?
But the good doctor shouldn't fall on his sword just yet. Sure he has added complexity, size and weight to one of the finest performance cars ever conceived. But remember, folks, it was Fujii who engineered our beloved Evo IX. And it was Fujii's hands that crafted the Evo VIII, Evo VII and Evo VI. The man is no fool. And his new car, while not as swift as its predecessor, is no dud.

In fact, the Evo X is so good it's sure to be a sales smash. According to our Inside Line crystal ball, when the Evo X goes on sale this February, it'll quickly become the car for performance enthusiasts who can't afford a Nissan GT-R and wouldn't be caught dead in the new poster child for pushrods, the Dodge Challenger. Regardless of what the stopwatch says, the Evo X will easily outsell the great Evo IX, which, truth be told, trickled out of Mitsubishi dealers as if it were coated in feces.

And now we're ahead of ourselves. Let's get back to the test track, where the Evo X GSR did everything right except outrun its older brother.

Here are its numbers:
0-30 mph: 1.7 seconds
0-45 mph: 3.1 seconds
0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
0-75 mph: 7.2 seconds
Quarter-mile: 13.6 seconds at 101.3 mph

30-0 mph: 28 feet
60-0 mph: 112 feet

600-foot slalom: 70.7 mph
200-foot skid pad: 0.99g

Back to the Evo IX
If you're disappointed in those numbers, consider yourself hard to please. Either that or you're an Evo IX owner.

The last Evo IX we tested was way back in 2006. And it was a five-speed base model just like this Evo X. It even cost the same, about $35,000.

Here are its numbers:
0-30 mph: 1.8 seconds
0-45 mph: 3.3 seconds
0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
0-75 mph: 7.4 seconds
Quarter-mile: 13.3 seconds at 103 mph

30-0 mph: 28.6 feet
60-0 mph: 115.8 feet

600-foot slalom: 70.7 mph
200-foot skid pad: 0.93g

The keen will notice that the new car actually has the old one covered at the drag strip up to 75 mph. We're guessing this is due to the new car's wider, taller 18-inch tires and more sophisticated all-wheel-drive system. Above 75 mph, however, the excess weight of the X (our test car weighed 3,545 pounds) drags things down, and the car crosses the quarter-mile mark 0.3 second slower than the lighter 2006 model.

In the Evo tradition, launching the Evo X is tricky. Maintaining 5,200 rpm while feeding clutch and throttle worked the best, but after a couple of runs the clutch smelled like rotten eggs. Getting it wrong doesn't take much, and bogging the car off the line is always the result.

Under the Hood
The Evo X's all-new aluminum-block 1,998cc 4B11 engine weighs 28 pounds less than the beloved iron-block 4G63 and makes more peak power: 291 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 300 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. But it doesn't have the same high-rpm kick as the 4G63, and honestly we miss it.

Instead, the intercooled and turbocharged 4B11 builds boost cleanly and in a linear manner even from low engine speeds, where it has the 4G covered. It's also a much smoother engine, happy to live up around its 7,600-rpm fuel cutoff.

Although the engine's basic architecture is shared with the normally aspirated engine found in the 2008 Lancer, the 4B11 inline-4 has been bolstered with a semi-closed deck block and a forged crank for boosted use in the Evo. The compression ratio rises slightly to 9.0:1 and MIVEC variable valve timing has been fitted to both cams, which are now chain-driven.

Mitsubishi has also strengthened the Evo's slick-shifting five-speed manual and ditched the six-speed manual used in the Evo IX MR. And the drivetrain lash we couldn't stand in the Evo IX during rapid on-off throttle transitions is not a problem in the new car. Although the Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST) in the Evo X MR is a technological wonder, guys who really want to go fast will buy the GSR model with the five-speed manual.

As one Mitsubishi engineer told us: "Guys who really want to go fast will buy the GSR model with the five-speed manual; it's stronger for guys who want to modify the car and it can be launched harder so it's quicker in the quarter-mile." We're told as much as 0.3 second quicker.

AYC: Good and Bad
Those new, larger Yokohama Advan tires (the same brand worn by the Evo IX) also give the new car a slight braking advantage. And as you can see in the test numbers, they work with the Evo X's 1.2-inch-wider track, Super All-Wheel Control with Active Center Differential (ACD) all-wheel drive and its Active Yaw Control (AYC) to give the car more grip on the skid pad.

For that test, the new car's AYC is a magic bullet. On our 200-foot circle it allows the Evo X's rear end to step out slightly and stay there all the way around the pad. There's no need for steering input at all. Meanwhile, the car's front tires are pulling the sedan around at an amazing clip. The resulting 0.99g performance is nearly as good as production cars get.

Incredibly, AYC holds the car back in the slalom. It seems the system assumes the driver is initiating a corner and supplies oversteer, but it never realizes the driver wants to steer back the other way. This makes the Evo X quite a handful when it's threaded through the cones.

We would have thought the yaw control system along with the new Evo's larger tires and wider track would have given it an advantage in the slalom. But the Evo X's additional 1.2 inches of height, increased heft and the inability of the AYC system to react to quick secondary changes in direction evened things out. In the end, the Evo X only matches the speed of the Evo IX through the cones.

Although its slalom speed is a bit disappointing, real enthusiasts should be jumping for joy. We'll just tell you that the Evo X is tossable. That it wants to drift. That it likes to be driven tail-out. This all-wheel-drive car drives like a rear-wheel-drive car. Is there a bigger compliment than that?

More Good News
And that's the deal with the Evo X; it's better than its track test numbers tell the world. It still feels like an Evo, but it's a more livable Evo that can be driven and enjoyed by those of us over 30. And it's still affordable. Base price is $32,990 and our test car cost $35,615 with the Sight, Sound and Spoiler Package and destination.

No, it's not the quickest of its kind, but the aftermarket will fix that quarter-mile thing with the determination of a gunshot. Just give the guys at HKS or Vishnu Performance a few months. They'll have the new 4B11 2.0-liter cranked up like your favorite tweaker on a Saturday night. Then there will be no reason to look down upon Fujii's latest creation.

It's the right car at the right time to continue the model's tradition of affordable turbocharged all-wheel-drive performance. Evo-heads the world over better start saving up.

Sorry, Dr. Evo, no oops necessary.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Second Opinions

Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton says:
Where the Evo IX drifted past apexes on the racetrack with all four tires sharing the same slip angle, the Evo X rotates and provides a measure of oversteer the old car never could (although sometimes too much). Lifting off the throttle midcorner doesn't change the IX's attitude, and adding more gas just makes the car go wider on the exit, but that's easier to predict than the fuzzy logic of the Evo X's Active Yaw Control.

Compared to the IX, the extra weight of the X is offset by its added power, so acceleration times are effectively a wash. And Evos have never lacked for brakes, now or then.

But these reasons are not enough to place the X above the raw, superbly direct connection with the mechanical soul offered by the IX. The Evo IX remains a sharper instrument I'd choose to drive in anger. You could grab the IX by the nape of its neck and throw it around — like a Jack Russell Terrier, it likes to spar.

The 2006 Evo feels like it needs me and the 2008 Evo does not. I like being needed. So, in an imaginary cake-and-eat-it-too world, I'd like a X's sexier body and more livable interior wrapped around a IX MR's 250-pounds-lighter chassis. I'm still on the fence about AYC and need more lapping to make a final pronouncement on its cost/benefit status.

How soon can we get an Evo X back? I just might change my mind.

Used 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Overview

The Used 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is offered in the following submodels: Lancer Evolution Sedan. Available styles include GSR 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M), and MR 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM). The Used 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual, 6-speed automated manual. The Used 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution?

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Should I lease or buy a 2008 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