The 2012 Mitsubishi Eclipse, which sells in an MSRP range of $19,499 to $32,599, has not played well with reviewers. It is an affordable sports car with a pleasingly aggressive stance, but it just does not have the engine chops to stand up to the competition. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe, for $2,750 more offers 48 more horses and better tech standards, while the Mazda Miata, for roughly $23,00 has much more impressive handling.
The only real change for 2012 with the Eclipse is the all new SE trim that adds a nice mix of black mirrors, dark alloy wheels, and rocker panel graphics to the existing GS Sport trim. The line opens with the base Eclipse GS coupe that pairs a five-speed manual with a 2.4-liter four cylinder. Standards include AC, cruise power locks and windows, keyless access, and a six-speed audio unit with an auxiliary input.
Move up to the GS Sport for $25,000 and the transmission drops to a four-speed automatic. All the standards apply, but the leather front seats are heated, there's a sunroof, and audio unit morphs into a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate unit. Real power kicks into the line with the Eclipse GT, which starts around $29,400. Basically, you get it all, plus a 3.8-liter V6 matched to a five-speed automatic. If you're interested in a convertible version, expect to spend an additional $3,000 to pick up the Eclipse Spyder, which is available at the GS Sport, SE, and GT trim levels.
Many reviewers feel it would be more accurate to call the Eclipse a day-to-day car with sporty overtones. The four-cylinder models get dinged for not having enough acceleration, while the V6s are prone to torque steer when they're speeding up. It's a no win situation. Granted, the Eclipse does deliver good grip, but it's just an underwhelming experience marred to an even greater extent by the car's ridiculously large turning radius.
Inside, you'll find a miniscule backset and a cabin finished out with sheep plastics that rattles and squeaks like mad. The coupe has about 15.7 feet of cargo space, while the Spyder offers just 5.2 cubic feet. The seats are comfortable and they do offer good support, but one major drawback is that the steering wheel is not telescoping, so taller drivers are going to be faced with wedging themselves in place.
While the 2012 Eclipse has not been crash tested by either the federal government or the insurance industry, the 2011 picked up a score of good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on front and side protection, but just marginal for rear crashes. Safety standards include a fully array of airbags and anti-lock brakes. There are visibility issues, which makes the standard backup camera on the GS sport and upper trims all the more attractive.
Simply put, the 2012 Mitsubishi Eclipse is a disappointment. Sitting on the lot, you want to like it, but inside the overall feel is too cheap, and on the road, the power and acceleration you want from a sports model is lacking. This one is a pass, it just doesn't live up to its promises.