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Mitsubishi takes on Toyota with the 2006 Eclipse

Except for the Rally bred Evolution, Mitsubishi has always been the little brother of the Japanese manufacturers, who just couldn’t quite compete with the bigger Honda and Toyota. It has taken 30 years of imported cars to bring all of the Japanese manufacturers to where they are today. Part of the problem is that Mitsubishi came late to the party, not appearing in the U.S. till 1982. They did have some early success with the Eclipse but some design elements were not pulled off. The early Eclipse had a separate hood piece because the hood wouldn’t close with the engines installed.

What makes the 2006 Eclipse such a good deal is it has real power in the form of a 3.8 liter 263 horsepower V-6 married with the kind of styling that doesn’t say family. When it comes down to it, if you are only going to have one car then you need to get a 4 passenger one just in case you have to pick your parents up at the airport. If you care about power try the optional 650 watt Rockford Fosgate audio system which includes a 10 inch rear deck mounted sub-woofer.18 inch wheels are also available. Fuel consumption may be an issue if you are looking for a small Japanese car. The only way this car will get 20 miles to the gallon if your commute is downhill both ways.

The 2006 Eclipse is based on the same platform as the Galant, which means it is not as small as the car it replaces. With a curb weight of 3,560 lbs it is easy to see how the small car handling of the old Eclipse has been replaced with the mid size feel that so many current Japanese cars now have. The good news is that the 263 horsepower is sufficient to run 5.9 second 0-60 times with the manual transmission. Mitsubishi includes its MiVEC timing system which is similar to the Honda VTEC system.

This may not be the best car for under $25,000 but it sure is worth every penny, it doesn’t have 4 doors, but it does seat 4 people and looks good on the road. Sometimes it is easy to forget that the difference between a $450 monthly car payment and a $600 monthly car payment is lunch for a month. We tend to try to buy the best car we can afford even if it means making other sacrifices. Here’s a car that you can get at a reasonable price that doesn’t ask you to give up much. It is not all wheel drive, it can’t do 0-60 in under 5 seconds, and it won’t get you past security at the airport. The truth is that cars can’t do everything and a good car gets you, your stuff and your friends where they got to go without breaking down too often.

Mitsubishi is looking for this car to appeal to twenty somethings, a feat that no auto manufacturer has successfully pulled off. Toyota with its Scion brand and GM with its Saturn line have sold cars but it turns out they missed their target audience. In America today, with lots of home equity in the hands of parents, and manufacturers offering their best deals ever, the typical car driven by a twenty something is the cast off car of their parents, as their parents rush down to the dealers to take advantage of the latest employee discount pricing program. It is only the highest paid twenty somethings who buy their own cars. Mitsubishi is also thinking about the tuner set but haven’t figured how to advertise to them yet. In 2007 we should get both a convertible edition called the Eclipse Spyder and a slightly faster 2.0 liter 4 cylinder turbo charged version called the ralliart edition.

This is definitely one car that you have to see and drive to appreciate. For a price that’s not much more then a well equipped Corolla you can drive a car that has styling cues from both Porsche and Lexus. The interior doesn’t pull any punches with the sporty theme with both two tone seats and dashboards. If you want to buy this car but need one more reason, the 2006 Eclipse is made in the U.S. by a company that is at least partially U.S. owned.

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