2008 Eclipse New Car Test Drive
The Mitsubishi Eclipse delivers just about everything we'd expect in a sub-$30,000 coupe: racy good looks, sporty handling, comfortable, feature-laden accommodations for driver and front passenger and a choice of four-cylinder or V6 engines. Even the base engine can provide brisk acceleration, and both deliver good fuel economy.
The Eclipse coupe was all-new in 2006. Changes for 2007, beyond the introduction of the Eclipse Spyder (reviewed separately), are minimal. Yet the Eclipse is still new enough to be fresh. The front seats are roomier than in the pre-2006 models, and this latest-generation Eclipse represents an improvement stylistically. With more curves and better proportions, it turns heads more with a smile than with a frown.
The Eclipse coupe has four seat belts, but it's a classic 2+2. The back seat is only used as a last resort. But the same applies to sport coupes that cost three times as much, and this is a true coupe, rather than a sedan with its rear doors sealed shut and painted over.
As such, the Eclipse offers something increasingly rare in the new-car market: a reasonably priced, sporty alternative to the bevy of small sedans. Prices start under $20,000, and even the base model is well equipped. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder returns to the Mitsubishi lineup after a one-year hiatus as a 2007 model, with a full-power, convertible top that folds completely into a fully covered, self-closing bin. All with the driver doing nothing more than releasing a couple of latches and pushing a button.
The Spyder comes with a choice of four-cylinder or V6 engines, each available with manual or automatic.
The Spyder offers all the pleasures of open-air motoring with few of the displeasures. The top, especially, is a quality structure. It's finished inside, with all the struts, pivots and bows hidden behind sound-deadening fabric. With it up, the interior feels and sounds much like the coupe, although perhaps a little claustrophobic. With it down, the steeply raked windshield pushes most of the air up and over the open cockpit, allowing almost-normal conversation; hats are just as essential for avoiding sunburn as for controlling wind-blown tresses.
Despite weighing about 200 pounds more than the coupe, due to bracing added in the conversion to a convertible, the Spyder gives up only one mile per gallon to the coupe in fuel economy in all but the top-level V6 with automatic, and that drops only two mpg and only in the highway estimate.
In pricing, the '07 Spyder actually costs less than its predecessor. The base GS model lists at $355 below the '05, the GT more than $2000 below the top '05 model, and both with more content.
Measured fun per dollar, the Eclipse Spyder is well worth a look for anyone shopping for a sporty convertible.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse coupe comes with a 162-hp four-cylinder or a 263-hp V6, and both engines are offered with a manual or automatic transmission.
The GS ($19,699) is the entry-level model, powered by the four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual. A four-speed Sportronic automatic is optional ($900). The GS comes with cloth upholstery and an impressive list of standard features, including air conditioning, cruise control, a 140-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, auto-off halogen headlamps, power windows, cruise control and a unique dash-top audio display with clock. The GS offers one major option grouping. The Sun & Sound Package ($1600) adds a power sunroof and 650-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo with six CD changer, a 10-inch, cargo area-mounted subwoofer and control switches on the steering wheel. GS buyers can also get a port-installed Accessory Package ($270), which adds an unpainted alloy fuel-filler door, wheel locks, cargo net, and cargo floor mat. Sunset Pearlescent paint is an option, too ($130).
The GT ($23,399) features the 263-hp V6 engine with six-speed manual transmission and standard fog lamps. A five-speed Sportronic automatic is optional ($900). New for 2007 is the GT Sun & Sound Package ($1600), identical in content to the GS Sun & Sound. The Premium Sport Package ($3270) includes the sunroof, Rockford Fosgate stereo, heated front seats with leather upholstery, automatic climate control and a power drivers seat.
Eclipse comes standard with front airbags, front side-impact airbags (for torso protection) and front-seat side curtain airbags (for head protection). The standard antilock brakes feature Electronic Brake-force Distribution, which balances front-rear brake application in emergency stops. The 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder is a two-door, four-seat roadster based on the latest Eclipse coupe.
The GS ($25,389) comes with a 162-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission ($900). Standard features include cloth upholstery; air conditioning; cruise control; the usual power accessories and fitments; tilt steering column; a premium, Rockford Fosgate, 650-watt stereo with AM/FM/MP3 capability connected to nine speakers and subwoofer; and 17-inch, flat-flanged, five-spoke, alloy wheels wearing all-season tires. The Leather Package ($980) adds leather-surfaced, heated front seats; heated outside mirrors; and a center-top dash display with ambient temperature and compass.
The GT ($28,269) comes with a 260-hp V6 with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic ($900). Standard upgrades on the GT are confined to the center-top dash display, an oversized exhaust tip and a red rocker cover on the engine. A Premium Package ($1730) adds leather-trimmed, heated front seats, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, six-way power driver's seat, rubber-nibbed, aluminum pedals, and flat-flanged, 18-inch, seven-spoke, alloy wheels with all-season tires. A wind deflector is also available.
Also offered on both GS and GT are two premium paint colors, Satin Mesei (visualize metallic green) and Sunset Pearlescent ($130), over and above the more traditional red, white, silver and black (blue is slated for late availability). Mitsubishi has signed off on three dealer-installed equipment packages (i.e., installation not included), as well. These are an aero kit, with front corner airdams, sport side sills and rear wake modifier ($1820); an accessory package, with alloy fuel door, wheel locks and floor mats ($179); and an appearance package comprising the aero kit and appearance package ($1999).
Safety features standard on both models include dual-stage front airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters, child safety seat anchors (LATCH) and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution.