New Car Review

1996 MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE GS

by Tom/Bob Hagin

Eclipse Photo

SEE ALSO: Mitsubushi Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 17,107
     Price As Tested                                    $ 19,527
     Engine Type                             2.0 Liter I4 w/SFI*
     Engine Size                                 122 cid\1996 cc
     Horsepower                                   140 @ 6000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               130 @ 4800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   98.8"/68.3"/172.2"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     2932 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  16.9 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                      205/55R16
     Brakes (F/R)                                      Disc/disc
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                 72 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.29

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            22/31/28          
     0-60 MPH                                        9.2 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       16.9 seconds @ 83 mph
     Top Speed (Est.)                                    124 mph

     * Sequential fuel injection

(Mitsubishi has built various Eclipse sport coupes to appeal to buyers that range from boulevard-cruising "wannabees" to skilled drivers who consider twisting roads a challenge. Bob Hagin liked the GS model Eclipse while his son Tom liked the rush of the turbocharged models.)

BOB - Even though they look alike from the outside and share underpinnings from the Galant sedan, there are really a bunch of Eclipse coupes, and the difference is under the skin. The RS is the entry-level version with drum brakes in the rear and limited performance options available, while the GS and GS convertible model are next. The hot rods are the GS-T, and the Eclipse GSX. Being a somewhat moderate driver, I liked the mid-line GS version we tested. It has plenty of power, handles predictably and comes standard with lots of nice features.

TOM - You're right about how the hardware is different on the various models. The Chrysler-built 2.0 liter non-turbo engine powering RS and GS models is also used in the Dodge and Plymouth Neon Sport Coupes, while the turbo unit is made by Mitsubishi - the two don't even share any parts. And although you'll never get me to like the non-turbo Eclipses better than the hot-rod versions, I'll admit that our tester hustled along quite well. But since the Eclipse GS-T and GSX also have stiffer shocks and sway bars for better handling, along with larger brakes and tires, they handle much better. I've driven them before, and they are one of the fastest cars on the road for the money.

BOB - And I'll bet that they ride harsh around town, too. I liked how all the models have the same sweeping interior curves and the way the contoured seats keep you in place if you do toss the Eclipse through some sweepers. But all the sporty coupes are a little tight inside and after being used to driving around in my van, it took some time to shake the feeling I got of "wearing" the Eclipse, rather than driving it.

TOM - It's even more "cozy" in back, Dad - I wouldn't want to use any of the Eclipse models on a double-date. Our test car had nice cloth upholstery but no power seats. In fact, you can only get power seats in in the leather-upholstered, top-of-the-line model and even then, it's only on the driver's side. I'd liked to have tried the Homelink system, standard on the top three models. It will control a garage door, home security system and house lights all from one control unit that takes the place of three transmitters. The trouble is, I don't have any of those automatic "things" in my apartment.

BOB - You have to have a high-tech place to use those high-tech gadgets, Tom, but I inadvertently used the "panic" security system that came with the remote door lock opener. Two times I pushed the wrong button trying to get inside and the headlights started flashing and the horn began to blow repeatedly. The system shuts itself off after three minutes, but fortunately I was able to deactivate it quicker than that both times. It's very embarrassing to have it go off in a parking lot at night although it sure does its job of attracting attention.

TOM - That's what it's supposed to do and it works well. But I'd rather have used the optional CD system that mounts a 10-disc changer in the trunk and a single CD player in the dash. That way I can listen to hours of non-stop CDs on long trips. But it's pricey at over $1000.

BOB - It usually takes me my whole tour in the car to figure out how to use the cassette player much less how to decipher the instructions on the disc system. It's the analogy of the old dog and new tricks, I guess. I'm more at home crawling around underneath - which I did. And while I was there, I noticed that Mitsubishi has replaced the front McPherson struts with unequal length transverse supports and that it has the multi-link system from the previous top-line Eclipses in back.

TOM - That was changed in '95, Dad, and aside from the "spoiler" on the trunk, the car is pretty much the same as that last one we tried. That spoiler is useful too, but you have to be going over 100 mph for it to work, I'm told.

BOB - It's been a while since I drove over a hundred, and Tom, please don't let on to your mother that you drive that fast.

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