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2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse

At Least It Looks The Part

    To most people that is. Maybe it’s the old age, maybe it’s the lack of coffee, or maybe it is the fact that this is the base model, but whatever the case was, the Eclipse did not impress me as I had hoped. That does not mean that the Eclipse is not worth your attention, on the contrary, I am convinced the Eclipse is a player. The visual appeal is there, but the substance simply lacks.
     For starters, the exterior is way over-the-top. “Bold and flashy” must have been the motto. Mitsubishi designers made sure that you would notice and remember their car. Especially after it has been saturated in as much Pure Red paint as ours was. While bold and flashy in no way bothers me, it was this particular model’s lack of gusto that did. We had nothing to back up the good looks with, but more on that later. Bubbly is one way you could describe the Eclipse, yet it doesn’t seem to do it justice because I would consider a VW New Beetle to be bubbly. Take away the headlights and aluminum-look fog lights and the front-end borders on bland. Yes, I realize I just criticized the Eclipse for being the polar opposite of what I said it was a few sentences ago, but somehow both are apparent in this vehicle. Several unique pieces, such as the multi-dimensional element head and taillights, the rear decklid spoiler, and the alloy fuel door spice up the otherwise smooth surfaces. It is these pieces that help the Eclipse retain a lot of that show car appeal and that ultimately set it apart regardless of what is under the hood.
     Speaking of which, there wasn’t much. Our particular model, the GS, was equipped with the standard four-cylinder powerplant. From this 2.4-liter MIVEC engine comes 162hp, 100 fewer than that of the sportier GT model. While not lethargic—the GS scoots around adequately—spirited driving may be a stretch. Underpinned by a soft suspension, the ride is nothing to write home about. Tightening things up a bit would do much to add zing to the driving experience and help the driver ignore the fact that they are a bit underpowered. The steering feel, or lack there of, did not help in the inspiration department either. Bottom-line: the Eclipse needs the extra juice of the GT model and Jenny Craig!
     Unfortunately, the interior style lines do little to trim down the visual ques to the Eclipse’s weight problem or convince you that quality time was spent on it during development. The instrument panel is a large sea of plastic with gauges, dials, buttons, screens, and air vents protruding here and there. Instruments, save for the radio, were all easy to find and use but they lacked a personal feel. The problem with the radio was not with the controls themselves but the radio information is grouped into the screen set higher up on the dash. While this placement deters eyes wandering from the road too far, coordinating what button you push and seeing its effect requires a learning curve. On top of all that fit and finish was a bit sub par. The fitment of the airbag cover (besides being oddly shaped) to the steering wheel was one issue that had consequences. Left hand only turns often produced a toot of the sensitive horn, particularly during spirited runs. This often had the effect of not only causing me to grumble but also any other nearby motorists. To the guy in the red, yellow, and black Chevrolet K2500 pickup I really didn’t mean it, it was the car—honest. As for the rest of the interior, the baseball stitching on the shifter is just darn cool, the metallic trim pieces are a nice touch, the seats were supportive and shapely, and the visibility out the front and sides is great. However, the shifter feel could be equated to a wooden spoon in pudding, the seat cushions seemed more fitting to six footers, (but those six footers will not fit in the back seat) and rear visibility is hampered by the Eclipse’s large rump.
     Regardless of all my bashing the Eclipse is worth your attention. Particularly if you intend to get the GT model, have small hands with thin fingers, you stand six feet towards the heavens but have short friends, and don’t mind a few quality quibbles. Having $21,764 to sign over to Mitsubishi Motors doesn’t hurt either.

The Good:
Show car style, handy rear hatch.
The Bad:
Underpowered 4-cylinder, numb to driver inputs.
The Verdict:
A good-looking package that’s short on substance.


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