Mitsubishi's Eclipse is a popular small sporty car with great appeal to those who want a practical car with looks

 

Small sporty cars are popular with younger buyers. It’s a segment of the marketplace where the car's styling is all-important. Often a car only sells well for a few years before it looks dated, the current Mitsubishi Eclipse is an exception as it has been on the market for five years and yet it still looks exciting.

An Eclipse is an ideal vehicle for a single person who only carries one passenger. Although it has two rear seats they are extremely cramped for anybody other than kids. On the other hand the driver has reasonable room and there is a decent amount of luggage space under the large rear tailgate.

The majority of Eclipses are powered by a 2.0-liter engine that provides sufficient power in cars with a manual transmission. With an automatic the car's performance is not in keeping with its looks. A small percentage of cars have a turbocharged engine which turns the car into a small pocket rocket ship. An even fewer number come with permanent all-wheel-drive which changes the character more into that of a true sports car.

 

What You Need To Know:

1. Review of a 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS

2. Summary of Good and Bad Points by Owners

3. History of Eclipse

4. Review of Current Model

5. Basic Facts

6. Changes Year-to-Year

7. Safety Information

8. Value Guide

9. Option Installment Rate

10. Sales History

11. Awards and Commendations Earned

12. Other Reviews

13. Recall Information

14. Price of Spare Parts

 

1. Pre-Owned Vehicle Evaluation - 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS

Likes: sporty looks, powerful turbo engine available

Dislikes: cramped interior, poor performance with non-turbo and automatic transmission

Competitors: (same platform, Eagle Talon), Acura Integra, Ford Probe, Honda Prelude, Nissan 240SX, Toyota Celica

Miles: 41,800

Condition: B+

Price when new: $19,020 (est.)

Estimated Value: $13,700 (March 1999)

Walking into the parking lot it was easy to spot the Mitsubishi Eclipse I was going to test - it was the sportiest looking car among a collection of ordinary sedans, minivans and sport utility vehicles. Appropriately the car belonged to a single twentysomething female. Compared to most cars on the road the Eclipse is quite small yet it is also quite practical for up to two people who don't have a lot of cargo to haul around.

Stepping into the car is not too difficult as the door is quite wide and the seat is not too low. Once inside you know you're in a sporty car as the dashboard wraps around the driver in a tight cockpit environment that makes you feel one with the car. The four-year-old car I test drove had an all gray interior and a dark blue exterior. It would have been nicer if it had some variety in colors.

This model had automatic transmission which definitely detracted from the sporty feel. With the stock engine the car's performance was definitely on the sluggish side. I had to work the engine hard to garner any decent acceleration. Fortunately if you don't mind doing your own shifting at least half the Eclipses sold in the past few years have a manual transmission, which works well.

Handling was quite good although the ride was a little choppy because of the short wheelbase. The high performance Eclipse with a turbocharger provides plenty of horsepower for those who want a real sports car like experience. It is also available with all-wheel-drive which offers improved handling. However, only a small percentage of Eclipses produced have either of these configurations, so most on the market are powered by the stock 2.0-liter engine.

The car appeared to be in good condition with no signs of scratches or torn materials. The seating was comfortable enough for the driver and passenger with a reasonable amount of headroom and legroom if the seats were moved back. However all but the smallest of kids will find the back seats decidedly cramped. Even with the front seats moved all the way forward there's virtually no legroom in the back two seats.

Of course this is no big deal if you don't need to carry more than one passenger. Many Eclipse owners just leave the rear seats folded down and use the resulting generous floor area for carrying stuff. In fact the Eclipse has above average storage space thanks to its hatchback configuration. The rear tailgate opens up to reveal a deep luggage area that expands considerably when the seat backs are folded down. The only shortcoming is a high lip to the trunk that makes lifting heavy objects a little cumbersome.

Overall, an Eclipse makes an ideal car for a single person who wants a vehicle with personality and decent luggage space. It's not exactly an ideal vehicle for carrying more than two adults, however.

 

2. Summing It Up - Owners' Views

Good:

Like unique, sporty look

No problems, except brake rotors had to be changed

Good gas mileage

 

Bad:

Too small

Poor pickup

 

3. History of Eclipse

Although the Eclipse is produced by Mitsubishi, a Japanese manufacturer, it is actually an all-American car. Ever since the vehicle first went on sale in 1990, it has only been produced in a factory in Illinois which was jointly owned by Chrysler and Mitsubishi until recently. The Eclipse was designed by Americans as a two-seater for the American market. The first generation model was sold as a Plymouth Laser and Eagle Talon as well as the Mitsubishi Eclipse. All three models were virtually identical save for trim differences.

The second generation Eclipse was introduced in 1995. Chrysler sold the model only as an Eagle Talon. The current model is slightly shorter in overall length than the previous model but it has a longer wheelbase, which gives it more interior space and better ride and handling characteristics. Most Eclipses are powered by a 140 hp 2.0-liter engine with high performance variations powered by a turbocharged engine. Soon after the Eclipse was launched Mitsubishi introduced an all-wheel-drive model which offered greatly improved road holding and traction in all road conditions. It is particularly well suited to the turbocharged model as it alleviates some of the torque steer problems. A convertible model, named the Eclipse Spyder, was introduced in 1996 and is powered by a larger 2.4-liter engine. The Eagle Talon version of the car was dropped in 1998 when Chrysler abandoned the Eagle division.

The next version of the Eclipse goes on sale in July 1999 as a 2000 model. The new model is a little larger and has an even sleeker appearance, a look Mitsubishi likes to describe as "geo-mechanical." The base engine is upped in size to 2.4-liters and the turbo model is replaced by a V-6 engine.

 

4. Review of Current Eclipse

With an all-new 2000 model just around the corner it was not surprising to find that the 1999 GS-T coupe I drove was little different from the pre-owned 1995 GS I test drove. There was of course one big exception - the performance. With a turbocharged engine producing 210 hp compared to 140 hp in the GS model it was not surprising that the performance was noticeably different.

The GS-T also sported an enormous rear wing which makes the car look fast. Floor the gas pedal and the car rocketed off at quite a speed. The car I tested did not have all-wheel-drive so the car was a bit squirly at times as with all that power the front wheels tried to fight the steering. On the other hand the car could be quite docile and easy to drive if one went easy on the gas pedal.

With a two-tone tan leather finish the interior was much more pleasing than the plain-Jane interior on less expensive versions. At a price of under $25,000 the car is actually quite good value compared to other cars offering similar exciting looks and performance. All-in-all the Eclipse is an ideal vehicle for those who want a stylish car that is also practical.

 

5 Basic Facts: 1995 - 1999 Eclipse

Vehicle Type: Small Sporty Coupe

No. Passengers: up to four

Origin of assembly: Normal, IL

Engine: (standard): 2.0-liter 140 hp DOHC I-4

(optional): 2.0-liter 210 hp turbo DOHC I-4; 2.4-liter 141 hp SOHC I-4 (Spyder)

Transmission: 5-spd manual; 4-spd automatic; front-drive or all-wheel-drive

Length: 172 inches

Wheelbase: 99 inches

Width: 68 inches

Height: 50 inches

Curb weight: 2800 lbs. (approx.)

Cargo volume: 17 cu. ft. (Spyder: 6 cu. ft.)

Fuel tank capacity: 17 gals.

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway): 22/33 (2.0-liter, manual); 21/31 (2.0-liter, auto); 23/31 (turbo 2.0-liter, manual); 20/27 (turbo 2.0-liter, auto)

 

6. Changes in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Line 1995 - 1999

1995 Model Year (first year of new model)

All-new second generation Eclipse introduced

New model is lightly shorter, but has longer wheelbase and is wider.

1996 Model Year

Spyder convertible version introduced

Minor sound system upgrades offered

1997 Model Year

Numerous minor cosmetic changes freshen appearance of car

Turbo coupe gets high rear spoiler

1998 Model Year

Minor option changes

1999 Model Year

Minor option changes

 

7. Safety Notes

NHTSA Crash rating (‘95 model year): Driver 4; Passenger 4 (5 is best)

ABS optional on all Eclipse models

Dual airbags standard from 1995

 

8. Value Guide

Prices listed are for base models. Options can add considerably to the lowest price listed as these are usually "stripped" models. In many cases, very few vehicles are ever sold at the lowest price listed! Source: Kelley Blue Book

1992 Model Year

New: $11,627 to $19,217

1993 Model Year

New: $12,139 to $21,999

1994 Model Year

New: $12,399 to $22,509

1995 Model Year (first year of new model)

New: $14,779 to $21,177

1996 Model Year

New: $15,390 to $26,250

1997 Model Year

New: $14,250 to $26,800

1998 Model Year

New: $16,160 to $26,590

 

9. Option Installment Rate

Generally, when you order a new car you have a choice of factory-installed options. When you buy a pre-owned vehicle the choice is limited to what was actually installed on vehicles sold in that model year. Use this option installment rate as a guide to the chances of finding particular options on a pre-owned vehicle. Source: Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

1995 Model Year

Installment Rate

Engine:

2.0-liter 4-cyl (DOHC) 93%

2.0-liter turbo 4-cyl (DOHC) 7%

2.4-liter 4-cyl (SOHC) 0%

Transmission:

Auto 34%

Manual 66%

Body Style:

3-door coupe 100%

Convertible 0%

All-wheel-drive: 7%

Air Conditioning: 93%

Cruise Control: 37%

ABS Brakes: 8%

Power Windows: 63%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 22%

Leather seats: 14%

1996 Model Year

Installment Rate

Engine:

2.0-liter 4-cyl (DOHC) 82%

2.0-liter turbo 4-cyl (DOHC) 10%

2.4-liter 4-cyl (SOHC) 8%

Transmission:

Auto 42%

Manual 58%

Body Style:

3-door coupe NA

Convertible NA

All-wheel-drive: 3%

Air Conditioning: 92%

Cruise Control: 49%

ABS Brakes: 4%

Power Windows: 49%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 14%

Leather seats: 10%

1997 Model Year

Installment Rate

Engine:

2.0-liter 4-cyl (DOHC) 81%

2.0-liter turbo 4-cyl (DOHC) 11%

2.4-liter 4-cyl (SOHC) 8%

Transmission:

Auto 47%

Manual 53%

Body Style:

3-door coupe 81%

Convertible 19%

All-wheel-drive: 4%

Air Conditioning: 98%

Cruise Control: 77%

ABS Brakes: 8%

Power Windows: 77%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 40%

Leather seats: 22%

1998 Model Year

Installment Rate

Engine:

2.0-liter 4-cyl (DOHC) NA

2.0-liter turbo 4-cyl (DOHC) NA

2.4-liter 4-cyl (SOHC) NA

Transmission:

Auto 54%

Manual 46%

Body Style:

3-door coupe 80%

Convertible 20%

All-wheel-drive: 4%

Air Conditioning: 99%

Cruise Control: 79%

ABS Brakes: 5%

Power Windows: 80%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 43%

Leather seats: 18%

 

10. Production/Sales Volume History

Normally a model year runs from October to September. Often though, when a new version is introduced it hits the market before October. Legally, a model year can start as early as January of the preceding year. Accurate model year sales counts are almost impossible to collect as different model year vehicles are regularly sold side-by-side for several months. Production figures, when listed, often include vehicles made for export to Canada, Mexico and overseas. Source: manufacturers/Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

 

1992 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1991 through Sept. 1992

Total number produced: 64,056

Total no. sold in U.S.: 53,488

1993 Model Year

Production run: Oct.1992 through Sept. 1993

Total number produced: 48,399

Total no. sold in U.S.: 56,982

1994 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1993 through Sept. 1994

Total number produced: 50,748

Total no. sold in U.S.: 50,616

1995 Model Year (first year of new model)

Production run: Oct. 1994 through Sept. 1995

Total number produced: 66,505

Total no. sold in U.S.: 51,296

1996 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1995 through Sept. 1996

Total number produced: 51,162

Total no. sold in U.S.: 60,469

1997 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1996 through Sept. 1997

Total number produced: 67,107

Total no. sold in U.S.: 62,310

1998 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1997 through Sept. 1998

Total number produced: NA

Total no. sold in U.S.: 59,231

 

11. Awards and Commendations

1994

"Best Overall Value of the Year - Subcompact under $12,000" - IntelliChoice

1995

"Driver's Choice Award" - MotorWeek

1996

"Driver's Choice Award" - MotorWeek

 

12. Quotes

"As before, the 2.0-liter is remarkably smooth, with the quick-hitting turbo dishing out decent low-end thrust that becomes absolutely superb in the midrange." - Road & Track, June 1994.

"One glance at the Eclipse's wide, wild body is all it takes to know that you're looking at a serious sporting machine." - Car and Driver, June 1994

"Like a Prada suit, the Eclipse looks good just about everywhere. It's stylish, economical and, in GS-T and GSX guise, pretty darn fast." - Road & Track Buyer's Guide, 1999.

 

13. Recalls (Only major recalls listed)

ID Number: 96V158000

Component: fuel: fuel systems

Potential Number of Units Affected: 15,347

Year: 1995-96

Manufactured From: Mar. 1994 To: July 1996

Year of Recall:'96

Summary: The fuel tank gaskets for the fuel pump and/or gauge unit could have been incorrectly installed allowing fuel or fumes to escape. If an ignition source were present, the fuel leakage could result in a fire.

ID Number: 98V069000

Component: power train: transmission: automatic

Potential Number of Units Affected: 48,553

Year: 1996-98

Manufactured From: May 1989 To: Mar. 1998

Year of Recall:'98

Summary: Lockup of the transfer case can occur due to insufficient lubrication. This condition can cause a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash.

ID Number: 98V045000

Component: fuel: throttle linkages and control

Potential Number of Units Affected: 48,781

Year: 1998

Manufactured From: July 1997 To: Jan. 1998

Year of Recall:'98

Summary: The dash panel pad can shift interfering with the throttle cable control. The throttle cable control would not return to idle increasing the risk of a vehicle crash.

 

14. Cost of Parts (relative to other vehicles)

Headlight unit: $343 (above average)

Side marker lamp: $17 (below average)

Door (left front): $147 (below average)

Fender (left front): $380 (above average)

Note: these are estimated retail prices for commonly replaced body parts on a 1995 model. Prices are current as of early 1999 but will vary from region to region and are subject to change at any time. Source: ADP Collision Repair Services

 

The Rettie Report and Pre-owned Profiles contain objective information from a variety of sources. The subjective comments are those of John Rettie.

 

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