What to know before buying a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

Robert
By Robert Bowen
Nov 4, 2022 | Mitsubishi, Tech Tips, Buyer's Guide, Evo X, evolution, evo, Lancer Evolution | Posted in Buyer's Guides | From the Aug. 2016 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Courtesy Mitsubishi

[Editor's Note: This story originally ran in the August 2016 issue of Grassroots Motorsports.]

Meet Our Expert

Robert Bowen 
Author of “How to Build Max-Performance Mitsubishi 4G63T Engines”
cartechbooks.com

When Mitsubishi released the Evo X in 2007, it was phenomenally bad timing: The automotive market basically collapsed six months later, and gas prices skyrocketed. The new car was a huge improvement over the previous version, but it was heavier and larger. It also lacked some of the raw sense of urgency that previous Evos had. The 2008 car sold so poorly, there was no 2009 model year. After that the car changed very little from 2010 to 2015, so shop more on condition than year.

Mitsubishi basically offered two versions of the Evo. The Evo MR was equipped only with the six-speed, twin-clutch transmission, Enkei forged wheels, and a more sophisticated Bilstein suspension. The Evo GSR had a conventional– and very tough–manual transmission. Both shared the same Brembo braking system, athough the MR had two-piece rotors. The MR is faster in stock and perhaps a better choice for a daily driver, but the GSR is the natural choice for a hotrodder.

True to its humble origins as a four-door economy car, many parts of the Evo’s interior are not of the highest quality. Rattles, squeaks and broken clips are common, but fortunately easily repaired. The factory Recaro seats are excellent, but not everyone can fit in them.

The Evo is heavy, powerful and fast. It devours tires like few other cars–be prepared to buy a set at least every year or 10,000 miles, depending on how hard you drive. Don’t be tempted to cheap out, either–the Evo likes sticky tires.

Despite what you may have heard, the Evo X has a stellar reputation for reliability. The stock aluminum 4B11T engine can easily handle 400-plus horsepower with a larger-than-stock turbo and decent tune. Non-modified cars will soldier on well past 100,000 miles with only minimal maintenance–and lots of new tires.

Speaking of modifications, if there is one thing that can ruin an Evo X, it is poor modifications. Generally speaking, pass on any car that has been modified unless you know the shop or person that did the work and you know the driver. Even then we would probably pass–the risk is too great that something was done incorrectly or the car was beat on.

The Active Yaw Control pump–it also provides pressure for the active center differential–is known to be a weak spot on cars that have been driven on salted roads, but Mitsubishi extended the warranty for this part to 10 years or 100,000 miles. Replacement pumps and rebuild kits are available for DIYers.

Carefully examine all panels for straight gaps. It’s good advice on any car, but all the more important for one that attracts the kind of drivers that want an Evo. The paint on the aluminum hood chips easily and should not be a concern.

If you can’t resist the urge to tinker, the 4B11T responds well to modifications. A cat-back exhaust will pick up a bit of power and make the car sound better–a stock Evo has a fairly innocuous exhaust note. An ECU reflash with the stock turbo and fuel system will take you up to, and somewhat past, 300 horsepower at the wheels.

Big power–350-plus–requires a larger-than-stock turbo, larger injectors and perhaps some different intercooler piping to eliminate the stock restrictions. Many tuners set up their cars for E85, which requires much larger injectors and pump, but the payoff is in higher power and a more forgiving tune.

The stock suspension is about as good as it gets for a road car, but again, if you can’t resist the urge to tinker, the factory GSR struts are a bit under-damped for high speed track usage. The stock MR Bilsteins are excellent, and Bilstein will even re-valve and rebuild as needed for wear, or to accommodate different springs. If you prefer a car that rotates more readily, the stock front sway bar can be supplemented by a larger rear one.

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TGMF
TGMF Reader
8/24/16 1:14 p.m.

My local dealer STILL has two brand new '15 Evo's listed.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
8/24/16 1:23 p.m.

There are still lots of new EVOs all over the country. I'm still considering getting one, but I fear I would take a bath on the BRZ.

RexSeven
RexSeven UberDork
8/24/16 3:06 p.m.

Hmm... this post is relevant to my interests.

Another tip for prospective buyers:

The fuel pump relay has gone through multiple iterations due to a tendency to fail to switch to high speed mode. Basically, the relay switches the fuel pump between low and high speed mode depending on fueling demands. If the relay fails, the fuel pump will stay stuck in low-speed mode which can lead to the engine running dangerously lean when running WOT. Check to see if your car is affected by TSB-10-13-002 and get the latest relays you can from the dealership

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/27/16 11:28 p.m.
TGMF wrote: My local dealer STILL has two brand new '15 Evo's listed.

I had to check and, wow, so does ours.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/27/16 11:31 p.m.

We have a big Mitsubishi dealer near here in DeLand, Florida, so I just check their site. They show 14 new 2015 Evos in stock. Wonder if that's correct. Might have to head over there one day and, you know, check it out.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/28/16 9:48 a.m.

I wonder what the out the door price is with HSRs starting a bit over 34k. I wonder if you could get that I to the high 20s after haggling. That is a huge amount of car for the $$$$

turtl631
turtl631 Reader
8/29/16 11:47 a.m.

I wonder if it's mostly because of the seats. And cheap car interiors getting much nicer.

Knurled
Knurled GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/29/16 12:31 p.m.
dean1484 wrote: I wonder what the out the door price is with HSRs starting a bit over 34k. I wonder if you could get that I to the high 20s after haggling. That is a huge amount of car for the $$$$

Get out of my head

DocV
DocV New Reader
8/29/16 1:58 p.m.

Do it. I got a Final Edition, and many months in, I am still smitten. There are still GSRs available at ~ $33k. The seats don't bother me that much (I am on the hunt for cast off Recaros from a track build).

DocV
DocV New Reader
8/29/16 3:25 p.m.

Saw this on the youtubes (comparison shootout of Focus RS, Evo X, WRX STI, and Golf R):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImobeCtRphc

I think these two are sometimes a bit long winded, but I was pleased to see the Evo's dynamics hold up so well in this company.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Reader Services
10/14/19 9:08 a.m.

I really can't explain it, but despite all the other options in the sport sedan segment, I've always been attracted to the Evo X.

Personally, I'd get the MR just for the twin-clutch transmission (even though I have heard maintenance can be tricky and expensive).

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/14/19 9:11 a.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

The twin-clutch transmission is what scares me most on these cars, by a long shot. I wish the expert had gone into more detail on those.

Knurled.
Knurled. GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/14/19 12:34 p.m.

FWIW, scuttlebutt is that Bilstein no longer rebuilds or revalves OE dampers.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
10/14/19 1:46 p.m.
pointofdeparture said:

In reply to Colin Wood :

The twin-clutch transmission is what scares me most on these cars, by a long shot. I wish the expert had gone into more detail on those.

From what I remember when researching these is that they are pretty stout..................as long as you keep the fluid cool. In other words, if you wanted to track one without constant limp mode intrusions, you need a seriously upgraded trans cooler. And I'd go ahead and do the deeper pan that increases capacity as well. 

 

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
10/14/19 2:43 p.m.

The new car was a huge improvement over the previous version, but it was heavier and larger.

Wikipedia says: "In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values."cheeky

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImobeCtRphc

I think these two are sometimes a bit long winded,

Me too. Can never seem to get hooked on them.

 

In other news, HOW ABOUT A LONG WINDED COMMENTARY!

Honestly, my main problem with the Evo X is my main problem with the Lancer it's based on, which is that it is too tall to look properly aggressive. The previous Lancer was fairly short, so if you widened it and lowered it, it looked mean. The Lancer the X is based on is so tall that you can widen it and lower it and it just looks OK (a stock X), and then you slam it so far down that it ceases to be functional as a performance car and it looks... alright i guess (stanced Evo X). Back when glass was flat and cars had frames people used to chop rooves and channel bodies to fix this, but good luck today. If you don't care about looks or proportion, no big deal. I don't care that much about looks on my cheap cars. If a X was cheap I'd stop caring. But as long as it sells for enough money that I have to finance it, it has to LOOK good too and that's where the X fails for me. Even my Mazdaspeed6 barely slips under my rule here because it actually looks worse than a non-mazdaspeed to me with a hood that looks like it came off an HD pickup and a worse spoiler and wheels than lower models. But... it's a fraction the price of an Evo X.

bnight
bnight
8/18/22 2:16 a.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Considering is made by the same company that can't even make a Manual for the Mustang I would said go with whatever other option there is. 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/19/22 10:09 a.m.

I seriously wanted to get one of these for rallycross but they seem rather unaffordable for that purpose.  I need a bigger budget and more space for cars.  I bet these would be a total blast in anger off pavement,

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/4/22 9:46 a.m.

Since this has been brought back up, the major weak point of the Evo X is cooling. They come with just enough cooling capacity for 1 autocross run or a minute of street hoonage. For anything beyond that, you'll need a massive increase in oil cooling (More than one company sells a dual-cooler V-mount kit!) and an air-oil cooler for the DCT.

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
11/4/22 11:07 a.m.

I miss mine that I bought brand new. I couldn't afford it at the time. Especially since my insurance and gas almost equal my monthly car payment.

I could certainly afford one now but I'm afraid of OPE's (Other Peoples Evos)

WebFootSTi
WebFootSTi New Reader
11/4/22 6:40 p.m.

Since you dredged this up I'm still very happy with my 2004 STi as it has cruise  cruse control and same vintage Evo didn't.

te72
te72 HalfDork
11/5/22 12:26 a.m.

I mean... hats off to the Evo lineup through the ages, but if you want a turbo, awd rally style car with a manual gearbox, Toyota has something that might interest you...

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
11/5/22 11:30 a.m.
te72 said:

I mean... hats off to the Evo lineup through the ages, but if you want a turbo, awd rally style car with a manual gearbox, Toyota has something that might interest you...

There are two problems though, actually getting one considering the low import numbers AND if you're willing to pay what is likely to be a massive markup. 

te72
te72 HalfDork
11/5/22 4:06 p.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

Fair point, but likely to be in an equal or better condition than a used Evo at this point. I can't imagine a fresh Evo X is a cheap thing either.

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE SuperDork
11/6/22 10:37 a.m.

Man, I miss my Evo X.

I gotta say, Mitsubishi knocked it out of the park with the 4B11T engines, but the Evo is HEAVY and they're frankly, not made well. It possibly had one of the worst car interiors I've been in too; cheap ABS as far as your fingers can touch! But somehow it all melts away when you romp on them for a bit, as if freight-train like turbo lag and pulls makes up for the sins of cheaping out. Just make sure you're going above and beyond on the coolant system.

te72
te72 HalfDork
11/6/22 2:32 p.m.

In reply to GIRTHQUAKE :

For a second there I thought you were describing an early Tesla...

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE SuperDork
11/6/22 2:48 p.m.

In reply to te72 :

Ironically, that's what it got replaced with lmao

te72
te72 HalfDork
11/6/22 11:30 p.m.

In reply to GIRTHQUAKE :

You know you would think this foot would start tasting better at some point. =P

 

But I stand by my point. Friend has a 2013 S, and while it sounds every bit like the Evo you described in terms of quality, it is kinda endearing, like the Evo. If I had one nit to pick, it's the door closing. It just sounds... tinny. Not what I expect from a car with an MSRP of that range.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
11/7/22 8:48 a.m.
GIRTHQUAKE said:

Man, I miss my Evo X.

I gotta say, Mitsubishi knocked it out of the park with the 4B11T engines, but the Evo is HEAVY and they're frankly, not made well. It possibly had one of the worst car interiors I've been in too; cheap ABS as far as your fingers can touch! But somehow it all melts away when you romp on them for a bit, as if freight-train like turbo lag and pulls makes up for the sins of cheaping out. Just make sure you're going above and beyond on the coolant system.

That's how I felt when I test drove an STi a few years ago, lag on top of lag, coupled with ridiculously short gearing............I lost my desire for it after driving one. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/7/22 8:50 a.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

Drive an STI with a GT30 or even a GT35...

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
11/7/22 9:38 a.m.

The interior in my STI was flat out garbage.  Your fingernail would put scratches in the plastics that you couldn't remove.  More rattles/squeeks at 5000 miles than my german cars had at 150k miles.  Most uncomfortable seats ever, shock dampening that didn't match the spring rates and a factory tune on the engine that'd break ring lands.

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise UberDork
11/8/22 3:17 p.m.

I hated my new 16 WRX. Really enjoying the 9 MR. Seats are excellent. Suspension is tight. Not a single rattle or noise. Is the interior cheap? Sure it is. Knew that going in. 

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/worst-car-buying-experience-long-read-sedan-content-thanks-scottyb-javelin-bmw88rider/218147/page1/

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
11/8/22 4:41 p.m.

In reply to mr2s2000elise :

You know, I've always wondered at what point was it decided that sports car interiors had to be really nice?

Not that I'm complaining either way, but it seems like for the longest time if you bought a sports car, you were going to get a car with a cheap interior. That doesn't seem to be as prevalent in a lot of today's offerings.

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE SuperDork
11/8/22 4:58 p.m.

In reply to te72 :

Yeah I don't have a problem with a cheap interior- but I DO have a problem with a cheap interior that breaks and snaps off easily. I had a panel in the rear by the package shelf that could just NEVER stay in place, no matter what I did. But if it feels like the interior is light to make the car faster? Then I'm all for it lol

But yeah, I kinda had to go for the Electric when a used one showed up in my price range- there's only so many places you can go when you daily a 350whp modded EVO X lol

In reply to z31maniac :

Mitsubishi got it right with the SST transmission. I know they're awful to repair, but the gearing and automated shifting is so good and so fast- and they're a strong, reliable transmission too!

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise UberDork
11/8/22 5:41 p.m.
Colin Wood said:

In reply to mr2s2000elise :

You know, I've always wondered at what point was it decided that sports car interiors had to be really nice?

Not that I'm complaining either way, but it seems like for the longest time if you bought a sports car, you were going to get a car with a cheap interior. That doesn't seem to be as prevalent in a lot of today's offerings.

My S2000 interior is nice. My Elise interior isn't - if you compare them both. My 95 MR2 is better than both quality wise. If I bought a car for interior, I would drive a Red Label Arnage. 

Agree 100% I guess it is expectations. If you know going in what you expect, then you are fine! 

 

My Land Cruiser Heritage Edition interior is crap compared to the Range Rovers, but I know what my expectation are. I don't get the people who buy the car then complain about interior after - didn't they look at it when they bought it?

 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
11/8/22 8:36 p.m.

In reply to mr2s2000elise :

I think the biggest difference in interiors is how they wear over time.  Something that is pretty nice when new can turn into complete trash in short order.  I find its the price of materials that make the difference here except in really rare cases.  Miata interiors as an example are super durable except for the driver's side seat bolster due to ingress and egress.  It's an easy fix.  Now my Crammit interior is a pile of disintegrating GM plastic and faux leather.  That's just how it goes.  Now my used German cars always had the most durable interiors hands down.  German leather with 100k miles can look and smell new if cared for. 

 

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise UberDork
11/8/22 8:39 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) :

Agree 100%

If you see my 2001 GSR Integra it was mint. Seat now needs some repair. Most of the stuff I have owned over the years, stay pretty mint, then again I am pretty anal of a car owner. 

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UberDork
11/8/22 8:43 p.m.

In reply to mr2s2000elise :

And to be fair, The seat repair is more about the foam degrading over the course of 22 years and a couple hundred thousand miles. The rest of the interior is still solid on it other than a few parts that just wore out from use. 

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise UberDork
11/8/22 8:45 p.m.

In reply to bmw88rider :

Stop doing so much horizontal mambo in the carsdevil

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
11/9/22 9:55 a.m.

In reply to mr2s2000elise :

The difference is the Land Cruiser will still be driving around while the Range Rover will be sitting in the shop. 

On interior quality it's more than just sitting in it.  You can't tell how it's going to hold up sitting in the car in the show room, or on a 15 minute test drive.

te72
te72 HalfDork
11/9/22 10:36 a.m.

Adhesive backed foam goes a loooooooong way when it comes to making an interior nice, at least from an NVH perspective. My wife's Supra started out as a quickly flipped car, but over the course of 5 trips to Vegas and back, we have eliminated almost all of the rattles, and it's a nice car to road trip now. =)

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