Between its introduction in 1973 and 2008, over six million units had been sold.  According to Mitsubishi, there were nine generations of development before the current model. 
In addition to the facelift, North America received three additional models to the Lancer line in 2004—Lancer Ralliart, LS Sportback and Ralliart Sportback. Ralliart slots in between the base models and high-performance Evolution. These cars came equipped with Mitsubishi's 2. 4-liter 4G69 engine (rated at 160 hp (119 kW)/ 162 lb⋅ft (220 N⋅m) for the Sportback, and 162 hp (121 kW)/ 162 lb⋅ft (220 N⋅m) for the Ralliart). The power gain was due to a tuned muffler for the Ralliart, and also included a new, stiffer suspension package that improved handling and lowered for Ralliart and lifted the LS Sportback by 2. 9 inches. The LS Sportback had 15-inch steel or optional 15-inch alloy wheels. The Ralliart came with 16-inch alloy wheels, front bucket seats borrowed from Japan's Mitsubishi Evolution GT-A, optional fog lamps, and a new aerodynamic ground package for Ralliart. The LS Sportback and Ralliart Sportback were equipped with a four-speed INVECS-II automatic transmission, while the Ralliart came with a five-speed manual transmission with an option for the four-speed automatic.