Used 1996 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

Sleek and eye-catching, the Spyder makes its debut this year. This convertible is based on the popular Eclipse.

Vehicle overview

Capitalizing on the recent success of convertible sport cars, Mitsubishi releases a topless version of its extremely successful pocket rocket, the Mitsubishi Eclipse. Unlike most convertibles, the Spyder is not merely a chopped version of the coupe. Instead, it was designed from square one to be a convertible. This results in a drop top that is extremely rigid with only a 50-pound weight gain over its hardtop sibling.

Available in entry-level GS or performance-oriented GS-T trim levels, the Eclipse Spyder is destined to impress the most demanding of taskmasters. Instead of the bellicose Chrysler-built 2.0-liter engine common to the GS coupe, the GS Spyder receives a 2.4-liter engine pulled from the Mitsubishi Galant. Horsepower figures are nearly identical for both power plants but the Spyder's engine has the definite edge in torque; 14 percent more available at a relatively low 3,000 rpm. The real excitement, however, lies with the GS-T. Using a proven Mitsubishi 2.0-liter intercooled turbo engine producing 210 horsepower, the GS-T offers more power than convertible competitors from BMW, Saab and Toyota. Pretty impressive for a car that costs less than $26,000.

The Eclipse Spyder has very attractive look-at-me styling that we think is a good component of any convertible design. The sleek, compact body and tidy dimensions are complemented by fine interior ergonomics and an excellent driving position. GS-T models come packed with goodies that include leather seats, an in-dash CD player, cruise control, security system and air conditioning; to name a few. Unfortunately, antilock brakes are conspicuously absent from the GS-T's standard equipment list and are unavailable on the GS model.

We cannot point to many reasons to not buy the Spyder; it has a respected bloodline, attractive looks and promising performance. However, in the $25,000 price range it places itself in direct competition with two of our perennial favorites, the Mazda Miata and the Ford Mustang GT convertible. Both offer rear-wheel-drive performance that will appeal to most enthusiasts and are solid in construction and design. This is not to say that the Spyder isn't a worthy contender, just that it makes the decision difficult. Well, that's one tough decision we would love to make.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.