2006 Eclipse New Car Test Drive
This is neither the time nor the place to belabor Mitsubishi's struggles in the U.S. new car market. Suffice to say, if the discussion focuses on product, the company's problems seem overblown and surmountable.
The all-new 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse illustrates well this apparent conundrum. New all the way through, from the ground up and from front to rear, it's a strong statement of the company's commitment to its loyal owner base and its investment in the vital U.S. market.
The car's a worthy entry, too. New engines are more powerful yet efficient and are paired with new transmissions. The new body rides on a new platform. Altogether, it's a promising package. Driver and front passenger get more room.
Stylistically, it's a pleasant improvement over the previous-generation (pre-2006) models. Fewer straight lines and sharp angles, more curves and better proportions combine to turn heads more with a smile than with a frown.
The window sticker leaves a positive impression, too. The base 2006 Eclipse GS boasts a manufacturer's suggested retail price that's $300 less than the '05's MSRP. And the '06 boasts more standard equipment, in creature comfort, performance and safety features than the '05. Moreover, the new Eclipse GT starts at $450 less than the '05 GTS, the model with which it most directly compares, and which it easily outpaces in terms of power and features.
Clearly, Mitsubishi intends to stay around. And the new Eclipse will certainly help.
The all-new 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse continues with a single body style: a two-door, four-passenger coupe. Two engines are offered: a 162-horsepower four-cylinder and a 263-horsepower V6. Transmission choices on the four cylinder are a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic called a Sportronic. The V6 comes with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed Sportronic automatic.
The Eclipse GS ($19,399) is the entry-level model, with the four-cylinder engine. It comes standard with a five-speed manual, with the four-speed Sportronic automatic optional ($900). The GS comes with cloth upholstery and an impressive list of standard features: air conditioning; cruise control; AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo; auto-off halogen headlamps; power windows, outside mirrors and central locking; carpeted front floor mats; Sport Touch tilt steering wheel and leather-wrapped shift knob; time-delay interior lights and accessory power; and dash top-mounted audio display with clock.
Among the GS options: a Sun & Sound Package ($1500) with power sunroof; 650-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo with 6-disc, in-dash CD changer, nine speakers and 10-inch, cargo area-mounted subwoofer; steering wheel-mounted, redundant audio controls; auto-dimming rearview mirror; and audio display with clock, outside temperature and compass. Buyers can add an Accessory Package comprising alloy fuel door, wheel locks, cargo net, cargo floor mat and Sport floor mats ($270). Sunset Pearlescent paint is an option, too ($130). Accessories installed and priced by dealers include halogen foglamps, color-keyed aero kit and front and rear mud guards.
The Eclipse GT ($23,699) features a V6 engine and six-speed manual. Standard on this model are everything on the GS plus foglamps, traction control, a front suspension strut crossbar and the full-featured dash-top display. The five-speed Sportronic automatic is optional ($900). Also optional: a Premium Sport Package ($3270) with heated leather front seating surfaces, automatic air conditioning (instead of manual A/C), sunroof, eight-way power driver's seat, heated outside mirrors, the Rockford Fosgate stereo with steering wheel controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 18-inch alloy wheels and alloy pedals. The Accessory Package and Sunset Pearlescent paint are also available. The accessories list is confined to the aero kit and mud guards.
Safety features that come standard include frontal airbags, front-seat mounted side-impact airbags (for torso protection) and front-seat side air curtains (for head protection). Anti-lock brakes are standard with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, which balances front-rear brake application in emergency stops.