Full 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder Review
What's New for 2009
The convertible Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder receives mildly restyled front and rear fascias for 2009. The GT trim gets standard stability control and xenon headlights, while a new dual exhaust system results in a 5-horsepower increase for the optional V6 engine.
Affordable convertibles with backseats are usually not the most thrilling automobiles in the world. Normally, they're the darling of Florida rental car fleets, offering a pleasant top-down motoring experience with little flair and little fuss. The 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder is not without flaws, but a handful of appealing attributes help it avoid this rental-car stigma.
Item number one is the Eclipse's swoopy styling. The bulbous fenders give the car an aggressive look, and there's a new blacked-out front fascia this year that mimics the look of cars like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Nissan GT-R. Also, while the front-drive Eclipse will never be able to keep up with an Evo, it does boast decent handling and an optional 265-horsepower V6. In short, the Eclipse is considerably more entertaining than the typical rental-fleet fare.
However, while the 2009 Spyder's styling and power help set it apart, its practicality pales when compared with other four-seat convertibles. The upright backseat is all but uninhabitable, and rearward visibility with the roof raised is notably poor. Speaking of which, the Spyder's soft top is less appealing than the quieter retractable hardtops offered by many competitors.
Overall, deciding on a 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder is all about priorities. If you want a comfy cruiser or something with a usable rear seat, consider a Chrysler Sebring, Pontiac G6 or Volkswagen Eos. Alternatively, if you want a truly sporty convertible, the Ford Mustang is a better option. But if what you're looking for is something that can do a little of everything, the Eclipse Spyder is a respectable choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder is a four-seat convertible available in GS and GT trim levels. Standard equipment on the GS includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a power cloth soft top, foglights, keyless entry, air-conditioning and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate stereo with a subwoofer and in-dash six-CD changer. No auxiliary audio jack is available. The GT adds a V6 engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, larger rear brakes, xenon headlamps, an outside temperature display and a compass.
The Deluxe Leather Package available for the GS adds upgrades such as leather upholstery, heated side mirrors and heated front seats. The GT's Premium Sport Package adds those items plus machine-finish wheels, automatic climate control, a six-way power driver seat and a removable wind deflector.
Powertrains and Performance
The base Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GS features a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 162 hp and 162 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy is 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. The Spyder GT receives a powerful 3.8-liter V6 that makes 265 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. It gets a six-speed manual standard with a five-speed automatic optional. The GT's fuel economy is a crossover-like 16 city, 24 highway and 19 combined with the automatic transmission, and virtually identical mpg with the manual.
The 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder comes standard with antilock disc brakes and front-seat side airbags (with head and torso coverage). GT models further benefit from traction control and stability control. Stability control is not offered on the GS. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Eclipse Spyder was given the highest rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Eclipse Spyder's cockpit has an attractive flowing dash, simple controls and generally high-quality materials, although there are some cheap bits here and there. The available two-tone color schemes are an attractive touch; however, some may find the terra cotta and white combo a little like sitting inside a Creamsicle. (With that color combo, oddly enough, the backseat remains black.) Front-seat comfort is above average for this type of vehicle, but the upright two-person rear seat is suitable for children only -- and small ones at that.
The Spyder features a three-layer convertible cloth top. Dropping it is a cinch. Release the header latches, hit a button and the top stows itself under the solid tonneau cover in 19 seconds -- and it goes up just as rapidly. Unfortunately, this design severely limits rear visibility with the top up, and trunk space measures only 5.2 cubic feet.
The 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder handles well for a front-drive convertible and delivers a fairly supple ride given its sporting pretensions. There is a little more chassis flex over bumps than we'd like and the car's turning circle is a shade south of nautical, but that's not enough to spoil an otherwise enjoyable driving experience. The base four-cylinder engine found in the Spyder GS will get you where you need to go, but the GT's V6 is a better choice. Not only does it add some personality to the Eclipse thanks to its snorty exhaust note, but it also compensates well for the GT's portly 3,700-pound weight. (Four-cylinder models are a couple hundred pounds lighter.) The manual transmission is recommended for those so inclined, as it's easy and fun to shift.