Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder Review

Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder Review

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder is a convertible version of the Eclipse coupe. In most regards, the Spyder provides a similar driving and ownership experience to the coupe, which means sleek styling, four-passenger seating, a powerful available V6 and a reasonable amount of comfort.

With the Spyder in the affordable convertible segment, Mitsubishi has taken a balanced approach. With nimble and sporty two-seat roadsters on one end of the spectrum and four-seat family-sedan-based convertibles on the other, the Eclipse sits comfortably in the middle. Historically, the Spyder's closest competitors have been convertible pony cars such as the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang.

The Spyder has been available for all Eclipse generations except the first, and has occasionally dropped out of existence as new generations of the Eclipse debuted. Whether new or used, the Spyder should satisfy a shopper desiring a sporty drop top that provides plenty of wind-in-the-hair fun.

Current Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
The front-wheel-drive Eclipse Spyder is available in base GS Sport, sporty-looking SE and V6-powered GT trims and shares its basic platform with the Galant sedan. The GS Sport is powered by a 162-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a five-speed manual transmission, while a four-speed automatic with manual-shift control is available as an option. The GT features a 265-hp 3.8-liter V6, but a five-speed automatic is the only transmission offered.

The GS Sport is well-equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning and full power features, heated leather front seats and a power driver seat, Bluetooth, a rearview camera and a powerful Rockford Fosgate audio system. The SE really only differs in that it features special wheels and styling elements. The GT ups the ante with its bigger engine, sport-tuned suspension, xenon headlights, foglights, leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic climate control and a wind deflector. Both models have a power-operated convertible soft top and stability control.

In reviews, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder has earned favorable commentary for its powerful V6 engine, comfortable front seating and stylish interior. Noted downsides include a hefty curb weight that dulls handling, poor top-up outward visibility, sluggish acceleration on four-cylinder models, thirsty fuel consumption with the V6, subpar interior construction and a large turning radius.

Used Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder Models
The present-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder debuted in 2007. Powertrains mirrored those of the current Spyders except that a manual transmission (five speeds for the GS, six speeds for the GT) was standard prior to 2010. The GT trim has always been available, but the base model was known as GS prior to 2010 and it had fewer standard features. The SE arrived for 2012.

For '09 stability control was added for the GT and the car received a mild face-lift that included a more aggressive, Lancer Evo-like front fascia. For 2010, many of the GT's options were included as standard features -- along with a corresponding price hike. Both GS and GT models gained Bluetooth, a rearview camera and stability control as standard equipment, as well. Revisions for '11 included 18-inch alloy wheels, heated leather front seats and a power driver seat for all models.

There are two previous versions of the Eclipse Spyder. A Spyder was available for the 2001-'05 model years of the third-generation Eclipse. Like the current model, it shared its underpinnings with the Galant and had a power-operated top. This Eclipse was somewhat smaller than the current model, however, and less refined. This generation's Spyder GS was powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 147 hp. The GT had a smooth-revving 200-hp 3.0-liter V6. Both could be had with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. Though this Eclipse was fairly popular with consumers, it attracted little critical acclaim. In tests, editors found that the car was not particularly fun to drive and had a noticeably low-quality interior.

The original Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder was available from 1996-'99 and corresponded to the second-generation coupe. The GS model had an unremarkable 141-hp four-cylinder engine, but the turbocharged GS-T was capable of 205 hp -- an impressive number in its day. A five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic were offered. The Spyder's top was a particularly nice one, with excellent insulation, one-touch power operation and a heated, but very small, glass rear window. Rearward vision was compromised severely when the top was up, but the rear seat was retained and the car's structural integrity was impressive.

Consumers interested in these earlier Eclipse Spyder models should be aware that reliability was not their strong suit. Accordingly, it is particularly important to make sure that the car has been well-maintained.