We mentioned robust power, and even though that's the wellspring of torque steer, it also gives the GT V-6 impressive hustle: 0-to-60 mph in 6.1 seconds and 14.6 seconds at 98 mph in the quarter when new; 5.9 to 60 and 14.2 at 101 with 40,846 miles on the clock.
Logbook scribblers took time to praise the Eclipse's excellent power rack-and-pinion steering, which was sports-car quick (2.6 turns lock-to-lock) and sports-car accurate, and most drivers found the control-and-gauge layout to be well above average in legibility, location, and function.
The interior color scheme polarized our test crew -- comments ranged from "eye-catching" to "hideous" -- but the distinctive exterior styling and "electric tangerine" paint (our name, not Mitsubishi's) resonated well with most, and no one could accuse this car of invisibility.
Although it was rarely a first choice for long trips, the Eclipse was no stay-at-home. Besides the 4000-mile trek to and from Los Angeles, where it spent several months with our West Coast gang, the Mitsu sailed through a 5500-mile trans-Canada vacation and then another voyage from Ann Arbor to Seattle and back.
Through all of this, the Mitsu averaged 22 mpg and, as noted, never uttered a whimper. It delivers excellent performance for the money. The GT Premium Sport package (heated leather seats, 18-inch aluminum wheels, power sunroof, premium Rockford Fosgate audio with a 10-inch earthquake subwoofer, auto climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated side mirrors, aluminum-clad pedals) added $3270 to our test car's base price, but even at $27,694, it's a tough package to top for value. And of course it was trouble- and rattle-free throughout its tour.
This may not add up to a recipe for love. But it leaves a warm memory strongly flavored with respect.
Interior needs to be unpimped.
Holy torque steer, Batman!
Controls are easy to use, and they make sense.
The engine responds like a small-block V-8, and the exhaust sounds terrific.
The turning radius is galactic.
Call the harbor master before trying to park this thing. But on the highway it proves to be a great cruiser; it tracks well and the cruise control is spot on.
One of the worst road-trip cars I've ever experienced: big blind spots, awkward ingress and egress, too noisy, speedo hard to read, and the digital readout is in km/h.
A driver-friendly car in general -- all the buttons and knobs are large and easy to reach.
ANTI-THEFT KEY: When we busted car thieves in Modesto [C/D, July 2006], the Ravelco anti-theft device (www.ravelco.com) was cited by name by the cops, so we decided to fit one to our precious Eclipse. The big appeal over wake-you-up-at-4 a.m. car alarms is that the Ravelco is simple, with no power required. A wiring shunt is soldered into the car’s starting and ignition circuits, the connections hidden amid the miles of cables in the bowels of the engine compartment. The shunt is itself disguised within a knot of wires that run in a steel-sheathed conduit to a 16-pin connector on the lower dash. The car will start and run only if the matching Ravelco key is inserted into the connector to complete the circuit (Ravelco claims 100,000 different pin combinations, and there is no master key). A Ravelco installer fits it for you in about two hours. Price: $400. How’s it work? So far, no one’s boosted the car. — Aaron Robinson
iPOD DOCK: According to Apple, it has sold more than 88 million iPods since the unit’s release on October 23, 2001. It is no surprise that a couple examples of the digital music player have made their way into our office. Staffers like the iPod (not related to BMW’s iDrive) because of its simple and intuitive controls. The Harman/Kardon Drive + Play ($119 plus shipping from www.harmanaudio.com, installed at Mr. Tunes for $49) is a dock for iPods that essentially splits the iPod in half, putting the controls in the driver’s reach on the center console and the display on the dash. This system keeps the driver’s eyes up and on the road. The Drive + Play can connect to the radio a number of ways — we used a wired FM modulator — and charges the iPod while connected. The control pod mimics the famous iPod click wheel, with four buttons on the edge and one in the center. Move the outer ring left or right, and the Drive + Play’s display reacts the same as it would if you were scrolling an iPod. If you are the audiophile who can’t leave the house without your 10,000 songs, this is one automotive solution. — K.C. Colwell
We all base our new-vehicle purchase decisions on a dizzying range of personal priorities, but over the long haul, the trait that endears a ride to any owner is its reliability. That's the secret ingredient in cars like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Like Tonto, the Masked Man's faithful Native American companion, they're always there, always ready, and they never complain. And they never become sources of irritation by requiring service outside of the regular factory-prescribed intervals.
Although the latest Mitsubishi Eclipse is based on Galant sedan foundations, it obviously won't be confused with an Accord or Camry. Its practicality index is lower, its visibility index is higher, and during its 18-month, 40,000-mile tenure in the C/D long-term test fleet, its logbook reflected accumulated reactions that were decidedly mixed.
But in the end, the car goes back to Mitsubishi with the coveted C/D gold star of approval, thanks to an operating record that was basically spotless. The logbook shows five service visits — all for scheduled maintenance, none requiring anything beyond factory-specified minimums. The total came to $432, a fair percentage of which was attributable to oil changes and tire rotations. It's hard for any owner to harbor unkind thoughts about a car that performs so faithfully.
On the other hand, our long-term test cars don't really have owners — just lots of different drivers. A corps of diverse drivers with no proprietary stake in a particular automobile has no trouble at all making unflattering observations, and the Eclipse's logbook had plenty of 'em.
The biggest gripe, one that was essentially universal, was torque steer. The Eclipse GT is equipped with a lusty 3.8-liter V-6 (263 horsepower at 5750 rpm, 260 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm), and this was enough to produce considerable steering drama at full throttle in the first two cogs of the six-speed manual transmission. A couple of commentators observed that this trait, with a little familiarity, was "manageable." Manageable, okay. Endearing, no way, and in fact it deterred us from adding a limited-slip differential to the car's mechanical inventory. The Eclipse could use a little more roll stiffness, in our opinion, and that soft point made it too easy to induce wheelspin during hard cornering. A limited slip would enhance corner exits, but it would likely also magnify the torque-steer problem, and we didn't think it would be worth the trade-off. Instead, our "Baubles and Bolt-Ons" ran to electronics.
That lusty V-6 also came in for some complaints about noise. Its barroom baritone added a welcome element of urgency in hard driving, but its song was relentless, and that ongoing growl could abrade nerves in routine running or freeway cruising.
In addition to the torque-steer complaints, several drivers found the Eclipse to be a little skittish when the pavement was damp. This is more a function of tires than anything else, although we find it peculiar that the OEM Goodyear RS-A all-season rubber didn't do a better job in this regard. It gave a decent account of itself on the skidpad — 0.82 g at the outset of the long-term test, 0.84 at the conclusion — and also contributed to very good wrap-up-test braking numbers: 169 feet from 70 mph.
Part of the problem may have been due to a touchy throttle tip-in, another source of multiple logbook complaints. It was tricky to keep the front tires from chirping at launch, a trait that provoked grins on first encounter but got old in a hurry.
Yet another entry on the dynamic debit list was the Eclipse's turning circle, a vast 40 feet. To be fair, this is a weak suit of most front-drive cars, although the Eclipse's turnaround sweep is bigger than most.
There were other operator complaints from the cockpit. Limited rear-quarter sightlines drew frequent comment, as did the high dashboard cowl, and the trendy aluminum-clad foot pedals weren't popular when drivers were operating with damp shoes.
A more controversial interior element was the seating. Some drivers, including a guy with a chronic nagging lower-back problem, found the chairs to be just fine. Others, including your humble narrator — a person who rarely has problems with seats — found themselves squirming when the drive got past the first hour or so.
By this time you're probably asking, so what's to like?
Tony was smart, well read, funny, irascible, cantankerous, opinionated, friendly, difficult, charming, honest, and eminently interesting to be around.He loved cars, car people, and words... but most of all, he loved racing. The Car and Driver writer, editor, and racer passed away in 2018 at age 78.