July 28, 2005
Mitsubishi Eclipse, 2003 - 2005
By Chris Chase
Mitsubishi, eh? That's
that new car company that showed up a few years ago, right?
2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Click image to enlarge
Well, not quite.
Mitsubishi's been around for years - lots of years - but the
company only expanded its dealer network north of the 49th
parallel in 2003. Its products are no strangers to Canadian
soil, however. Through a close relationship with Chrysler
Corporation, several of Mitsubishi's cars have been sold in
Canada bearing Dodge, Plymouth and Eagle nameplates and
Mitsubishi technology was also the basis for just about every
Hyundai made prior to 1995.
But perhaps the best
known of Mitsubishi's "Canadian-ized" cars is the Eclipse, a
sporty little coupe which was sold here between 1991 and 1999 as
the Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser and gained a reputation for
the turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive system found on
The year 2000 saw
Mitsubishi take a vastly different approach with the third
generation of its sporty coupe, giving it a more relaxed
demeanor and marketing it toward drivers more concerned with
good looks and comfortable cruising than outright performance.
It was also the first Eclipse not to be imported into Canada in
some form, but that changed two years ago when Mitsubishi
dealers started springing up across Canada.
Looks are subjective, but
there's no denying that this third generation Eclipse stands out
thanks to its sharp angles and aggressive front fascia. However,
it should be noted that while this was a new car to the Canadian
market, its design was already three years old when it went on
2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Click image to enlarge
The 2003 Eclipse was
available as a coupe and convertible, and with one of two
engines: a 2.4 litre four-cylinder making 147 horsepower, and a
200-horsepower, 3.0 litre V6. Either engine could be paired up
with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic.
Coupes were designated as RS or GS for four-cylinder models, and
GT or GT Premium for V6 cars. Convertibles were either GS or GT
RS and GS models got
front disc brakes and rear drums, while the GT and GT Premium
got discs all around, and only the top-of-the-line GT Premium
coupe and droptop models got ABS as standard equipment. Lower
end models did without entirely, even as an option. Side airbags
were offered only as a standard feature on GT Premium models.
Traction control was standard on the GT Premium coupe in 2003
and 2004, and was an option available only on the 2005 coupe and
convertibles from all years.
Air conditioning was
standard across the line, and cruise was standard on all models
but the RS coupe.
So what about the good,
bad and the ugly? Actually, there's not too much bad or ugly
going on here. U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) crash testing revealed the Eclipse to be
a pretty safe, solid car. It scored four stars for driver and
front passenger protection in frontal impact tests, and three
stars for side impact protection for front seat occupants. The
NHTSA didn't do rear seat side impact tests, citing a back seat
that was too small to bother.
Fuel economy is
alright for a sporty car, but the Eclipse is one of those
vehicles where consumption may not dictate your choice of
engine, especially not if you want the automatic transmission.
With that transmission mated to the six-cylinder engine, the
Eclipse is rated at 7.9 L/100 km highway, and 12 L/100 km city.
The four cylinder returns only marginally better city economy
(11.7 L/100 km) and actually does worse on the highway (8.3
L/100 km). The four-cylinder gains a stronger fuel economy
advantage when considering manual transmission models, but even
then it's only significant in the city - 11.5 L/100 km (7.6
L/100 km highway) for the V6 versus 10.1 L/100 km (6.9 L/100 km
highway) for the four banger. Keep in mind, though, that the
Eclipse's six-cylinder prefers premium fuel while the
four-cylinder uses the cheap stuff.
For the three model
years the Eclipse was sold in Canada, Consumer Reports only has
reliability data for 2003 cars, to which it granted an "average"
Red Book value for a 2003 GT Premium coupe is $21,150, which
works out to 62 per cent of its M.S.R.P. If you find the Eclipse
coupe is out of your price range, check out a Hyundai Tiburon.
Brand new they were significantly cheaper than the Eclipse,
which means lower resale values, and while the Tiburon's not
available as a droptop and its four-cylinder and optional V6
engines give up a little power to the Mitsubishi motors, they
offer similar fuel economy and the two cars even look like they
could be related.
Mitsubishi's in a bit
of a financial fix right now, so it's hard to say where the
company will be in a few years time. If it were to go under, it
will probably have a negative effect on resale values, and it
may make it difficult to find parts (though that's hard to say
for sure). Only you know what you value in a used car, but the
Eclipse offers sporty looks and the potential for decent
performance in a reasonably affordable package.
www.mitsubishiforum.com - This site features a section dedicated
to the Eclipse, but count on having to weed through a lot of
info about the first and second generation models, which share
nothing but a name with the model discussed in this review. That
said, this is the busiest section of the site, so it might be
worthwhile to dig around for the information you're looking for.
www.mitsubishi-forums.com - If you don't like what you see at
the first site listed, add a hyphen and another "s" to the url
to get here, where the site designers have seen fit to split the
Eclipse section into two parts - one for 1991-1999 cars and
another for the vastly different 2000 and up models. Also, more
than 10,000 members call this site home, compared to not even
4,500 at that other hyphen-deficient site.
Red Book Pricing (avg.
retail) January 2005:
Recall Number 2003277; Units affected: 635
2004: On certain vehicles, the fuel return line hose fitting on
the electric fuel pump may be restricted, causing excessive fuel
pressure to build up in the fuel injection system. Excessive
fuel pressure may result in the fuel return hose becoming
dislodged, resulting in fuel leakage. Fuel leakage in the
presence of an ignition source could result in a fire.
Correction: Dealer will inspect the fuel pump pressure. Those
vehicles exhibiting higher than normal fuel pump pressure will
receive fuel pump modifications.
Used vehicle prices
vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer
reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used
vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you