Fans in the US rejoiced when the Mitsubishi Evolution burst onto the scene in the early 2000’s. After successfully racing the Evo and building on the success of the 4G63, US Mitsubishi fans couldn’t wait to get their hands on the legendary rally racer. It’s been a staple of the aftermarket automotive world since, and if not for the Evolution’s arrival in the 2000’s we could very well not have a WRX or STI either.
It’s had a relatively successful run in the US, but undermined by consumer mistrust and the crankwalk scandal of the 90s, Mitsubishi couldn’t keep the Evolution going. After 10 generations of the high performance all-wheel drive vehicle, Mitsubishi is sadly pulling the plug on the Evolution.
Luckily for US 4G63 fans, the price tag of the AWD 4G63 sedan has fallen in recent years, making it a great choice as a used racer. The combination of turbocharged power, ultimate grip and stout 4G63 torque makes the Mitsubishi Evolution a highly attractive option.
Unfortunately, it can be very easy to pick out the wrong Mitsubishi Evolution. The Evo that had a bad previous owner can promise more problems than solutions, as you begin to pick through a mess of wiring or bad parts to correct the issue. This is where our How To Buy a Used Evolution Buying Guide comes into play. We show you the tell tale warning signs to look for when shopping for a used Evolution, and help you from buying a used lemon.
Debuting in 2003 the Lancer Evolution gradually made improvements to horsepower, grip and reliability at each new generation. Before you begin our How To Buy a Used Evolution guide, it’s a good idea to know the different Evolution Lancer trims to buy from, and what the differences are.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII – 2003-2006
The one that started it all the Evolution VII / VIII came equipped with a 270 horsepower 4G63 engine that was markedly different than the 4G63 found in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Turbo and Eagle Talon turbos. Flipped transversely to make room for the additional drivetrain upgrades that set the Evolution apart from it’s AWD brothers of the previous generation, the 4G63 was still every bit as robust and powerful.
Capable of reaching well into the 400 horsepower range with just a handful of modifications, the Evolution came in four distinct flavors.
- RS (Rally Sport)
- GSR (Grand Sport Rally)
- SSL (Sun, Sound and Leather)
- 2005 + MR (Mitsubishi Racing)
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution RS is still one of the best bang for your buck used cars out there. Equipped with the bare minimum, the RS came with air conditioning but not much else. Manual door locks, windows and without ABS, the RS is a true racer’s trim of Evolution. Drivetrain improvements came in the way of a helical limited slip front diff in 2004, which became standard after 2005.
In 2005 Mitsubishi also headlined the Lancer Evolution MR, the first Evolution to feature a six speed transmission. The RS and GSR models in 2005 also got the first version of the Mitsubishi Active Center Differential (ACD).
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX – 2006 – 2008
By the time the Lancer Evolution IX arrived, Mitsubishi enthusiasts couldn’t wait for the introduction of MIVEC the variable valve-lifting technology to rival Honda’s popular VTEC. Available in four different flavors the IX enjoyed two years of production before making way for the Evolution X.
The introduction of variable valve timing increased the base horsepower, bringing it to 286 all wheel horsepower. Fuel efficiency was greatly improved with the IX, and true to form the RS is still the base model you want if creature comforts and weight are issues. The Lancer Evolution MR also featured performance upgraded shocks, wheels, and headlights, along with the six speed transmission.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X – 2008+
Marking the end of an incredible run, the Lancer Evolution X was the first Evo to not be powered by the legendary 4G63. Undergoing a complete redesign the Lancer X was the first Evo in the US to feature the Active Yaw Control. The new 4B11T is slowly winning us over, but how can anything truly replace the 4G63?
The X packs the 291 horsepower 4B11T on a new platform and a much more advanced all-wheel drive system. Unfortunately the Evolution X didn’t quite receive the welcome Mitsubishi had first envisioned, leading to cancelling the Evolution in 2009. The Evolution X returned in 2010, but the writing was already on the wall for a automaker that had taken some serious lumps when US owners complained about faulty crankshafts.
While it’s still a bit more expensive than an Evolution 8, the X is a markedly more sophisticated and well rounded sports sedan. An bloated MR Touring version joined the ranks of the Mitsubishi Evolution X in 2010, with heated seats and a much nicer interior. The usual trims are available for the Evolution X and the standard MR featured a 6-speed twin-clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST).
All Mitsubishi Evolution X models came standard with :
- The Mitsubishi Multi Communication System with HDD navigation and music server
- Power windows, air conditioning, and Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps
- Super All-Wheel Control system, with advanced electronics and mechanics to help the vehicle respond to road conditions
- Active Center Differential, which adjusts torque differential between front and rear wheels to optimize steering, traction, and stability
- Active Yaw Control, which adapts the torque between the rear wheels, providing better traction for cornering
- Active Stability Control, which monitors wheels for slip and helps the driver maintain control by adjusting pressure at each brake
That does it for our How To Buy a Used Evolution guide, if you have any questions or comments please leave them for us below!