What's New for 2005
New for the 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse is the REMIX Edition that features a unique shift knob and steering wheel, leather front seating surfaces, a 210-watt Infinity stereo with six-disc CD changer, 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome exhaust tip, color-keyed door mirrors and REMIX Edition badges. The base RS model has been dropped for 2005.
When it debuted back in 1990, the Mitsubishi Eclipse was a feisty little sport coupe with a nimble chassis that could be had with a powerful turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive. The second generation, introduced in 1995, brought a bulbous body but kept the scrappy character. Last redesigned in 2000, the Eclipse has grown up into a more refined, though softer, sportster that stakes its claim on edgy styling and respectable performance at an affordable price. While the Eclipse is a comfortable and fairly swift (with V6 power) coupe, the enjoyment quotient isn't as high as in the previous versions. True driving enthusiasts will be disappointed by the car's isolated and floaty feel when it's pushed, preferring more feedback from the steering and less body roll from the suspension. But evidently, the middle-of-the-road 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse is fine for most folks, judging by its impressive sales numbers. Still, there are a number of worthy competitors that offer more sporting character for the same or less money, such as the Acura RSX, Mini Cooper, Scion tC and Volkswagen GTI. Fortunately, a fully redesigned version is expected to debut in 2006 that should close the gap between the Eclipse and its more modern competitors.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse is offered in three trim levels: GS, GT and GTS. Standard equipment on every model includes power windows, mirrors and door locks; an anti-theft system; air conditioning; a height-adjustable driver seat; a CD player; auto-off headlights; and alloy wheels. Additional standard features include 16-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, cruise control, remote keyless entry and a split-folding rear seat. Next up is the GT, which adds 17-inch wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, ground effects, a chrome exhaust tip and foglights. The top-dog GTS packs a sunroof, leather seating surfaces, a power driver seat, rear window wiper and washer and a 210-watt, seven-speaker Infinity audio system with an in-dash CD changer. GS buyers can get many of these features by ordering the REMIX package, which adds a unique shift knob and steering wheel, leather, the aforementioned Infinity sound system (with CD changer), a chrome exhaust tip, color-keyed mirrors and REMIX Edition badges.
Powertrains and Performance
The GS model comes with a four-cylinder engine that displaces 2.4 liters and produces 147 horsepower (142 hp with the automatic). The GT model is equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 engine making 200 horsepower. The GTS is slightly more muscular than the GT, as it sports 210 horses. All models can be equipped with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission with a sequential-shift Sportronic mode. The V6 delivers its power in a smooth manner that's great for cruising but a little lackluster when it comes to more spirited driving.
Three major safety features -- antilock brakes, side airbags and traction control -- are only available on the top trim level, the GTS. In the government crash tests, the 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse scored four (out of five) stars for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts and five stars for side-impact protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Featuring a symmetrical cockpit, the Eclipse's interior is dull in appearance and heavy on low-grade interior materials. There is a unique top-mounted display for the audio system, but you still have to look down to fiddle with the buttons on the stereo, so it doesn't help much. The front seats are softly padded, which is beneficial for long commutes, but more aggressive drivers will be begging for additional side support. Rear passengers will want more of just about everything, including headroom, legroom and thigh support.
Eclipses, particularly with the V6 engine, are pleasant to drive, thanks to a smooth power delivery and a compliant suspension. Power from the four-cylinder is certainly adequate, and the V6's torque curve makes it an easy car to drive around town and on the highway. In terms of handling, the car is better suited for cruising rather than hard driving. The suspension is softly tuned, and driver involvement is minimal.