1991 Eagle Talon
Chrysler's top-of-the-line Eagle Talon is one of the finest vehicles I have driven this year. People keep kicking Chrysler, but some of the best vehicles I've tested recently come from the nation's third-largest automaker. You won't find a better minivan than the Plymouth Voyager/Dodge Caravan. The Chrysler LeBaron is the world's best-selling convertible. And how can you argue with the Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo, a car that has the seductive looks and stellar performance of a Ferrari for a fraction of the price? I even liked the frumpy, slow-selling Dodge Monaco, a roomy well-equipped mid-sized sedan that's going for bargain-basement prices. It's time to take another look at Chrysler. When it comes to value for the dollar, there are some shining stars in Chrysler's galaxy of vehicles. If you are considering a sports coupe, start looking at a Jeep-Eagle dealer. That's where you'll find the Talon TSi all-wheel-drive turbo model and two other lower priced varieties. ENGINE, PERFORMANCE What makes this Eagle fly? It's a 195-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.0-liter engine. That, combined with the car's slippery, wind-cheating physique, is enough to deliver 0to 60 mph times in the low 6-second range. Several years ago, performance like that usually came attached only to British, Italian or German supercars and always at a small fortune. The Eagle's four-cylinder engine is silky smooth until it reaches about 6,500 rpm, where the engine reaches the top of its power curve. The redline is 7,000 rpm, but it makes no sense to rev it that high. The car's performance potential is best manipulated by using the turbocharger and by shifting at the exact moment. By moving into the next gear at the right time, the Eagle resumes its ascent without fuss. The turbocharger winds up quickly, and there's no trace of turbo lag or torque steer. The Talon really sizzles in second and third gears. The test car came with a five-speed manual transmission, but this year a four-speed automatic is optional. The shifter is tight and moves nicely through the gears. The clutch is smooth and easy. Gas mileage was not as high as it could have been, but I drove the car hard. In town with the air conditioner on I got 22 miles per gallon. That figure rose to 25 mpg in highway driving. STEERING, HANDLING I was impressed with the engine but stunned by the Eagle's suspension system. I had the test car during a time when it rained nearly every day. I haven't been in a car that is as easy to drive and control in bad weather as the Talon. Nothing I could do on wet roads - not even full throttle acceleration from a standstill - could loosen the grip of the Talon's Goodyear Eagle tires. There's an ingenious center-mounted limited slip differential that detects wheel slip and automatically parcels out more power to the wheels with the most traction. The system works wonderfully. The four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes are superb. I had the most fun with the Talon slicing through curves. This car must have been created by engineers who love to drive. The car handles light and easy. The suspension is fairly firm, but that does not mean you are treated to a bone-rattling ride. The power-assisted rack and pinion steering is sharp, and the turning radius is nice and tight. The wheel has a good, heavy feel to it and provides good feedback to the driver. FIT, FINISH, CONTROLS Aside from minor gripes about the location of the cruise control switch and the lack of room for rear-seat passengers, the Talon is as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside and underneath. Two adults can fit in the rear, but they won't be comfortable. The sloping roof-line limits headroom. And foot-and legroom is tight, too. There's an easy-to-read full gauge package, and most switches are easily reached and operated, except for the cruise control. It's on the end of the stalk that controls the windshield wipers. You have to fuss with it to get it to work. The cloth-covered seats were attractive, firm and supportive. Nice touches included a third wiper and washer for the hatchback; remote trunk release; fog lights; a powerful radio and cup holders in the center console. The test car, along with its siblings, the Plymouth Laser and Mitsubishi Eclipse, was built in Normal, Ill., at a factory jointly owned by Chrysler and Mitsubishi, the company's Japanese partner. The car was well-built. There were no rattles or other glitches, and the car's performance over 600 test miles was flawless. Chrysler has some vehicles in its lineup that could stand a little sprucing up, but I hope Chrysler leaves the Eagle Talon TSi alone. It has been on auto experts' 10-Best-Lists since the day it came out for one simple reason: It is one of the finest performance coupes you can buy for less than $20,000.
|Richard Truett||Orlando Sentinel||July 25, 1991|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||December 17, 1990|
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