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The 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse is more of a comfortable cruiser than an apex-strafing sport coupe.
Distinctive styling, plenty of standard equipment, V6 power in GT trim.
Doesn't provide much driving excitement, uninspired interior design, antilock brakes are available only as part of an expensive package.
Available Eclipse Models
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Only trivial changes are in store for the 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse. Two new exterior colors (Titanium and Flash Blue) are added, as well as a Mitsubishi triple-diamond chrome badge. GS and GT models get illuminated vanity mirrors and a glovebox lamp as standard equipment.
Last redesigned in 2000, the Mitsubishi Eclipse stakes its claim on edgy styling and quick performance at an affordable price. While Mitsubishi's sport coupe is a popular seller, 2002 brings on a host of new or revised competitors, and many of them are superior choices in our opinion.
The Eclipse is offered in three trim levels: RS, GS and GT. All three models can be equipped with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, with GS and GT automatics featuring a sequential-shift Sportronic mode. The base four-cylinder engine found in the RS and GS models displaces 2.4 liters and produces 147 horsepower (140 hp with the automatic). The GT model comes equipped with a responsive 3.0-liter V6 engine making 200 horsepower.
Standard equipment on every 2002 includes power windows and door locks, an engine immobilizer and anti-theft system, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a CD player, auto-off headlights and alloy wheels. The mid-level GS gets 16-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, cruise control, remote keyless entry, lumbar support and a split-folding rear seat.
For the most toys, pick the GT. This nets the 17-inch wheels and four-wheel disc brakes, as well as opening up access to the swank option packages. The Premium package adds items like a premium audio system with an in-dash four-disc CD changer, power leather seats, a power sunroof, antilock brakes and front side airbags. Traction control is also part of this package, but only if the automatic transmission is ordered.
Mitsubishi calls the Eclipse's styling "geo-mechanical." Our editors are split on the overall look, but the coupe-like roofline, arched fenders and ribbed doors certainly give the Eclipse an edge in distinctiveness.
Less successful is the interior design of the car. Featuring a symmetrical cockpit, it is lackluster in appearance and heavy on low-grade interior materials. The Eclipse does have a unique top-mounted display for the audio system, with the idea being that this keeps the driver's eyes on the road. In our experience, we still have to look down to fiddle with the buttons on the stereo, so what's the point?
The front seats are softly padded, a nice attribute for long commutes. More aggressive drivers will be begging for additional side support, and rear passengers will want more of just about everything, including headroom, legroom and thigh support.
Eclipses are generally pleasant to drive. Power from the four-cylinder is certainly adequate, and the V6 provides ample torque throughout the rpm range. Dynamically, the car is better suited for cruising rather than hard driving. The suspension is softly tuned, and driver involvement is minimal.
While the Eclipse is a decent car, buyers looking for more excitement should check out the Acura RSX, Toyota Celica or Ford Mustang. And if you want a quality interior and a refined image, European-designed two-doors, such as the Volkswagen GTI or the upcoming Mini Cooper, are superior.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.