Full 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse Review
What's New for 2008
All 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse models ordered with the optional stereo now get satellite radio as part of the deal. The Eclipse's top-end GT model receives the formerly optional 18-inch alloy wheels as standard.
The 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse may trace its roots to the rowdy turbocharged sport coupe of the '90s, but its formula has undergone several revisions over the years. Now in its fourth generation, the Eclipse isn't as racy as in years past, but casual sport coupe shoppers will likely find plenty to like in the Eclipse of today.
An available 263-horsepower V6 not only makes this the fastest Eclipse ever, but also the best at providing the low-end punch Americans find so satisfying. Mitsubishi also gave the Eclipse a fairly relaxed ride for daily commutes, while tuning the suspension and steering for sharp responses in the corners. It's a stretch to call this Eclipse a full-on athlete, but as a long-distance touring car, this front-wheel-drive coupe can be surprisingly enjoyable. The car's interior furthers this impression, greeting occupants with solid-quality materials, supportive seats and an especially nice optional stereo.
Much of this comfort came courtesy of the Eclipse's siblings, the Galant sedan and Endeavor SUV, whose platform underpins the Eclipse. These genetics bring some definite compromises, not the least of which is curb weight, as today's Mitsubishi Eclipse GT weighs as much as a Toyota Avalon. In addition, despite its larger size, the Eclipse retains its perennial problem of having a cramped backseat.
Because of the coupe's weight, the four-cylinder offers meager go-power, and indeed the modest-performing Eclipse GS is a tough sell over hotter sport coupes like the Honda Civic Si and VW GTI. For Eclipse buyers who can afford it, the powerful V6 is our definitive recommendation. The one drawback is that this engine delivers more torque to the front wheels than they can effectively channel to the ground, leaving the coupe's tires scrabbling for traction under full-throttle launches.
Such behavior is inevitable in a front-drive coupe with a big V6, and as a result, the Eclipse is less fun to fling around than rear-wheel-drive coupes like the Ford Mustang, Mazda RX-8 and Nissan 350Z. But when it comes down to it, plenty of people just want an engine that doesn't talk back when asked to perform, a ride that won't beat them up on the freeway, and a body that turns heads. And alongside the larger front-drive coupes in this price range -- including the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Toyota Solara -- the 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT does merit more serious consideration. If you're willing to give on interior space, Mitsu's coupe offers more athleticism and style.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse Coupe comes in GS, GT and limited-edition SE and SE-V6 trim levels. Even on the GS, standard equipment is generous with 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, air-conditioning, a six-speaker MP3-capable CD stereo, split-folding rear seats, keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The GT adds the V6, 18-inch alloy wheels, bigger vented disc brakes, traction control, an outside temperature display and compass.
The Eclipse's key options come in two major packages. Optional on both the GS and GT is the Sun & Sound Package, which includes a glass sunroof, a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo with six-disc CD changer, satellite radio, steering wheel audio controls, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, outside temperature display and compass. Exclusive to the GT is the Premium Sport Package, which includes all of the above plus a power driver seat, heated leather front seats, heated mirrors, automatic climate control and aluminum pedals. The SE is essentially a Sun & Sound package-equipped Eclipse GS with cosmetic upgrades inside and out, 18-inch wheels and the GT's firmer suspension. The SE-V6 adds stability control and the cosmetic upgrades to the Eclipse GT equipped with the Premium Sport package.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Eclipse GS and SE have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 162 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Putting power to the wheels is either a five-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic with manual shift mode. The 3.8-liter V6 in the Eclipse GT and SE-V6 kicks it up to 263 hp 260 lb-ft, as well as one extra gear in each transmission. An Eclipse GT with a six-speed manual gearbox can hit 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and provides strong response from any speed.
The 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse offers lots of standard protection, at least to the first two occupants. Standard side and head curtain airbags protect front riders only, and the rear seat lacks head restraints. Every Eclipse features antilock disc brakes as standard, with the GT adding traction control. The SE-V6 is the only model to come with stability control.
Interior Design and Special Features
The current Eclipse's interior rates about average in materials but above-average for style. The dash flows in a soft wave; ice blue backlighting decorates the instruments; and there are unusual details such as door releases shaped like flip phones. The Rockford Fosgate stereo arguably has best-in-class sound quality, though unfortunately lacks an MP3 player jack. Front seats are comfortable and supportive on long trips, though passengers in the cramped rear fare far worse in every way. The Eclipse does shine as a cargo hauler, however, thanks to a hatchback body style that allows for 15.7 cubic feet of cargo even before folding the backseats.
Despite its frontal weight bias and hefty curb weight, the 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT is still an entertaining partner on twisty roads thanks to eager turn-in, a short wheelbase and a general feeling of composure. A well-sorted suspension strikes a successful compromise between buttoned-down handling and a smooth-enough ride. Weak points include average braking distances and a wide turning circle. We recommend skipping the four-cylinder in favor of the V6, as its muscular power band does a much better job of motivating the heavyweight Eclipse.