The Car Connection Mitsubishi Eclipse Overview
The Mitsubishi Eclipse is a two-door front-wheel-drive sports coupe, built in the U.S. at a factory in Normal, Illinois. A mainstay of Mitsubishi's U.S. lineup of cars, the Eclipse has been on sale here since 1989. Today's Eclipse competes against the likes of the Honda Accord coupe, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and base V-6 versions of the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.
The first-generation Eclipse is likely the most loved by enthusiasts. Sold in similar forms by the Chrysler Corporation as the Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser, the Eclipse initially was offered with a choice of four-cylinder and turbocharged four-cylinder engines. On turbocharged versions, the Eclipse could be had with a manual transmission with 195 horsepower and all-wheel drive, and that Eclipse GSX regularly won magazine comparison tests and landed on best-of lists.
With the second-generation Eclipse (1995-1999), production moved to Illinois, and the car added three new distant cousins. From some shared running gear, Chrysler and Mitsubishi developed the two-door Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring coupe, which had more in common with the four-door Mitsubishi Galant. All shared the same Illinois factory. While it grew somewhat larger and less attractive, this Eclipse gained power, with top versions making 210 hp. A Spyder convertible joined the lineup for the 1997 model year. It had lost its Plymouth version in 1994; in 1998 the Eagle brand closed down, leaving the Eclipse the sole surviving triplet.
From the 2000 model year to the 2005 model year, the Eclipse grew closer in size and mission to its Mitsubishi Galant stablemate and its Chrysler cousins--which now took the form of the Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring coupes. The bigger, longer Eclipse brought with it more rear-seat room and a more plush ride, but none of the driving dynamics that earned its hot-hatch reputation. A 205-hp V-6 was added to the four-cylinder lineup; turbo and all-wheel-drive versions were dropped. The Spyder convertible version returned for this generation as well. While it lost ground in handling, this Eclipse drew some good reviews for its Pontiac-like styling, with wide side strakes and large bullet-style foglamps marking a sharp change from the prior version.
The current Mitsubishi Eclipse hit the market as a 2006 model, with the Spyder arriving as a 2007 model. Four- and six-cylinder versions are still offered, with Mitsu's large 3.8-liter V-6 giving the Eclipse a big 263 hp. Front-wheel drive, the Eclipse can handle the power and still gives good ride, but fuel economy and handling are subpar for the class.
Mitsubishi has built the final Eclipse of the current generation, but has not announced plans to replace the sporty coupe and convertible.