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Subaru WRX vs. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Eric Brandt August 2018
  • The Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution compete in the all-wheel-drive sport compact segment.

  • The Lancer Evolution was recently discontinued with 2015 being the final model year and no replacement announced.

  • The Subaru WRX is still in production, but the current generation is still competitive with the now-discontinued Lancer Evolution.

The sport compact segment has been heating up in recent years with a few new entries in the U.S. market like the Honda Civic Type R, Ford Focus RS and Hyundai Veloster N. However, one manufacturer that has bowed out of sport sedans is Mitsubishi. After more than 20 years of producing the Lancer Evolution, or "Evo," the brand has discontinued the iconic, rally-inspired car in favor of adding more hot-selling crossovers to its lineup.

In the time that the Lancer Evo was in production, its top competitor was always the Subaru WRX. The two cars have a lot in common: A turbocharged engine, standard all-wheel drive and similar dimensions. These cars appeal to drivers looking for rally car performance in the form of a practical 4-door that can be driven daily in all seasons.

Although the Lancer Evo has been discontinued, it's an appealing offering on the used market for its performance and for its increasing scarcity. Since 2015 was the final year for the Lancer Evo and the first year for the current-generation Subaru WRX, those are the cars we'll be comparing. Let's take a look at the differences between the Subaru WRX and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

Exterior

Both the WRX and the Lancer Evo are based on existing cars in their respective manufacturers' lineups. The WRX is a performance variant for the Subaru Impreza, and the Lancer Evo is obviously based on the Lancer sedan. However, both cars have aggressive appearance packages that imply increased performance.

A dead giveaway that a Subaru compact is a WRX rather than an Impreza is a prominent hood scoop, There's also a big rear spoiler that isn't standard, but is a popular option. Other styling cues that set the WRX apart from the Impreza are sporty front and rear fascias and special wheels.

The Evo treatment on the Lancer is similar to that of the WRX. The Lancer Evo has a distinct hood with multiple heat exchangers, an available rear wing, different front and rear fascias and special wheels. The two sport sedans are aesthetically different versions of the same idea; a rally car inspired version of a normal compact car with the performance to match the look.

Interior

The similarities between the two cars continue on the inside. They're both sporty, somewhat simple and have a few nice touches to remind you that you're in a performance car.

A few things that both cars have are aluminum pedals, three big knobs in the center stack for climate control, available infotainment screens with similar sizes and two analog gauges in the dash with a driver information screen in between them.

A couple features unique to the WRX are a flat-bottom steering wheel, making it a little more sporty, and an extra screen on top of the center stack displaying some supplemental information like many other Subarus.

The WRX has a bit more interior room than the Lancer Evo. If you're on the tall side or you're planning to carry passengers often, the WRX might be a better fit. A little extra interior space can go a long way.

Mechanicals and Performance

If you're in the market for a compact sport sedan, you're going to want to know the performance details. The 2015 models of both of these cars come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine under the hood, but they're actually quite different.

The engine in the Mitsubishi is an all-aluminum inline-4 with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed twin-clutch automatic with paddle shifters. The U.S.-spec version of the car made 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, which are very impressive numbers even by today's standards. Every Lancer Evo has Mitsubishi's S-AWC (Super All-Wheel Control) which is torque vectoring all-wheel drive that can send different amounts of torque to the rear wheels.

The WRX uses Subaru's familiar flat-four engine layout. The turbocharged boxer engine in the WRX makes 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Upgrading to the WRX STI with a 2.5-liter engine would get you 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque, making the STI more comparable to the Lancer Evo in terms of pure performance numbers. Available transmissions in the WRX are a 6-speed manual or a CVT. For enthusiasts, the DCT in the Evo might be preferable to a CVT, which is typically a transmission for economy cars. Like the Evo, the WRX has standard torque vectoring all-wheel drive on all models.

If you're looking for raw performance, the Lancer Evo has the WRX beat by a fairly significant margin, especially in the torque department.

Features and Technology

In both of these cars, there's a wide range of features available. For drivers who aren't about interior frills and all about the drive, there's a WRX and Lancer Evo for you in the lower trims. However, if you want some luxurious appointments without sacrificing performance, Subaru and Mitsubishi can help you there as well.

The MR trim adds to the base GSR trim of the Lancer Evo with some nice features, like leather and suede seats, remote keyless entry and a Bluetooth phone interface. Upgrade to the MR Premium and you'll be treated to Rockford Fosgate premium 9-speaker audio and satellite navigation.

Features are similar in the WRX when you work your way up to the Premium and Limited trims. Premium adds a power sunroof and a 7-inch Starlink multimedia display while Limited gives you LED adaptive headlights, push-button start and available navigation.

The Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo are pretty comparable in terms of interior features and technology.

Pricing

Pricing sets these two cars apart quite a bit. Since you can't get a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, used models are depreciating very slowly. If you search on Autotrader for a used Lancer Evolution X (the tenth and final generation of the car) for sale, you'll find a lot of examples in the high $20k and even low $30k range.

Now, compare that to the fact that you can buy a brand new 2019 Subaru WRX starting at just $27,195. Early versions of the current-generation WRX are depreciating pretty normally, and clean examples can be purchased for around the $20k mark.

If you look at these two cars purely from a bang-for-your-buck perspective, the WRX is a better value than the Evo, especially on the used market. But you can't really put a price on the collectibility of a Lancer Evo X.

Conclusion

The latest Mitsubishi Lancer Evo might have the Subaru WRX beaten in performance, but the WRX sure has the Evo beat in price. The Lancer Evo is in a unique situation where people are willing to pay new-car prices for used cars that are four model years old -- or older.

If you're looking for a good value in an all-wheel-drive sport sedan, the WRX is definitely the better value between the two. However, if you want more of a collector item that could hang onto its value a little better due to being the last of its kind, then keep your eyes out for a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.

Find a Subaru WRX for sale

Find a Mitsubishi Lancer for sale

  • The Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution compete in the all-wheel-drive sport compact segment.

  • The Lancer Evolution was recently discontinued with 2015 being the final model year with no replacement announced.

  • The Subaru WRX is still in production, but the current generation is still competitive with the now-discontinued Lancer Evolution.


The sport compact segment has been heating up in recent years with a few new entries in the U.S. market like the Honda Civic Type R, Ford Focus RS, and Hyundai Veloster N. However, one manufacturer that has bowed out of sport sedans is Mitsubishi. After more than 20 years of producing the Lancer Evolution or "Evo," the brand has discontinued the iconic, rally-inspired car in favor of adding more hot-selling crossovers to its lineup.


In the time that the Lancer Evo was in production, its top competitor was always the Subaru WRX. The two cars have a lot in common with both having a turbocharged engine, standard all-wheel drive, and similar dimensions. These cars appeal to drivers looking for rally car performance in the form of a practical four-door that can be driven daily in all seasons.


Although the Lancer Evo has been discontinued, it's an appealing offering on the used market for its performance and for its increasing scarcity. Since 2015 was the final year for the Lancer Evo and the first year for the current-generation Subaru WRX, those are the cars we'll be comparing. Let's take a look at the differences between the Subaru WRX and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.


Exterior


Both the WRX and the Lancer Evo are based on existing cars in their respective manufacturers' lineups. The WRX is a performance variant for the Subaru Impreza and the Lancer Evo is obviously based on the Lancer sedan. However, both cars have aggressive appearance packages that imply their increased performance.


A dead giveaway that a Subaru compact is a WRX rather than an Impreza is a prominent hood scoop, There's also a big rear spoiler that isn't standard, but is a popular option. Other styling cues that set the WRX apart from the Impreza are sporty front and rear fascias and special wheels.


The Evo treatment on the Lancer is similar to that of the WRX. The Lancer Evo has a distinct hood with multiple heat exchangers, an available rear wing, different front and rear fascias, and special wheels. The two sport sedans are aesthetically different versions of the same idea; a rally car inspired version of a normal compact car with the performance to match the look.


Interior


The similarities between the two cars continue on the inside. They're both sporty, somewhat simple, and have a few nice touches to remind you you're in a performance car.


A few things that both cars have are aluminum pedals, three big knobs in the center stack for the climate control, available infotainment screens with similar sizes, and two analog gauges in the dash with a driver information screen in between them.


A couple features unique to the WRX are a flat-bottom steering wheel making it a little more sporty and an extra screen on top of the center stack displaying some supplemental information like many other Subarus do.


The WRX has a bit more interior room than the Lancer Evo. If you're on the tall side or if you're planning on carrying passengers often, the WRX might be a better fit. A little extra interior space can go a long way.


Mechanicals and Performance


If you're in the market for a compact sport sedan, you're going to want to know the performance details. The 2015 models of both of these cars come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood, but they're actually quite different.


The engine in the Mitsubishi is an all-aluminum inline-four with either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed twin-clutch automatic with paddle shifters. The U.S.-spec version of the car made 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque which are very impressive numbers even by today's standards. Every Lancer Evo has Mitsubishi's S-AWC (Super All-Wheel Control) which is torque-vectoring all-wheel drive that can send different amounts of torque to the rear wheels.


The WRX uses Subaru's familiar flat-four engine layout. The turbocharged boxer engine in the WRX makes 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Upgrading to the WRX STI with a 2.5-liter engine would get you 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque making the STI more comparable to the Lancer Evo in terms of pure performance numbers. Available transmissions in the WRX are a six-speed manual or a CVT. For enthusiasts, the DCT in the Evo might be preferable to a CVT which is typically a transmission for economy cars. Like the Evo, the WRX has standard torque vectoring all-wheel drive on all models.


If you're looking for raw performance, the Lancer Evo has the WRX beat by a fairly significant margin, especially in the torque department.


Features and Technology


In both of these cars, there's a wide range of features available. For drivers who aren't about interior frills and all about the drive, there's a WRX and Lancer Evo for you in the lower trims. However, if you want some luxurious appointments without sacrificing performance, Subaru and Mitsubishi can help you there as well.


The MR trim adds to the base GSR trim of the Lancer Evo with some nice features like leather and suede seats, remote keyless entry, and a Bluetooth phone interface. Upgrade to the MR Premium and you'll be treated to Rockford Fosgate premium nine-speaker audio and satellite navigation.


Features are similar in the WRX when you work your way up to the Premium and Limited trims. Premium adds a power sunroof and a seven-inch Starlink multimedia display while Limited gives you LED adaptive headlights, push-button start, and available navigation.


The Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo are pretty comparable in terms of interior features and technology.


Pricing


Pricing sets these two cars apart quite a bit. Since you can't get a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, used models are depreciating very slowly. If you search on Autotrader for a used Lancer Evolution X (the tenth and final generation of the car) for sale, you'll find a lot of examples in the high $20k and even low $30k range.


Compare that to the fact that you can buy a brand new 2019 Subaru WRX starting at just $27,195. Early versions of the current-generation WRX are depreciating pretty normally and clean examples can be had for around the $20k mark.


If you look at these two cars purely from a bang-for-your buck perspective, the WRX is a better value than the Evo, especially on the used market. But you can't really put a price on the collectibility of a Lancer Evo X.


Conclusion


The latest Mitsubishi Lancer Evo might have the Subaru WRX beaten in performance, but the WRX sure has the Evo beat on price. The Lancer Evo is in a unique situation where people are willing to pay new-car prices for used cars that are four model years old or older.


If you're looking for a good value in an all-wheel drive sport sedan, the WRX is definitely the value proposition between the two. However, if you want more of a collector item that could hang onto its value a little better due to being the last of its kind, then keep your eyes out for a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Subaru WRX vs. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: Which Is Better? - Autotrader