1997 Eagle Talon

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1997 Eagle Talon
Available in 4 styles:  Talon 2dr Coupe ESi shown
Asking Price Range
$50–$4,578
Estimated MPG

20.9–22.1 city / 28–32.8 hwy

Expert Reviews

By 

TheMercuryNews.com

The Eagle Talon is an overlooked car.

A small, sporty coupe, the Talon is the sister car to the Mitsubishi Eclipse. In fact, both cars roll off the same assembly line in Normal, Ill., in a joint production deal with Chrysler Corp.

But the Eclipse outsells the Talon. Last year, for example, nearly four times as many Eclipses were sold as Talons. The Eclipse outsold the Talon by a wide margin in 1995, too.

Still, the cars have the same expressive styling, the same 2+2 seating, and the same 2-liter, four-cylinder engine offerings. Their starting prices, including delivery charges, are nearly the same, too, around $14,600 for the base models.

So, what's the problem?

First, the problem isn't all Talon's. The Eagle Division of Chrysler is struggling with its sales overall and has just two nameplates: Talon and the Vision sedan. That doesn't begin to compare with the broader line of vehicles that buyers find at a Mitsubishi dealership -- and that means there are more opportunities to expose buyers to the Eclipse.

Second, the Talon isn't exactly getting a big advertising push. Even though it has been out seven model years, it isn't a known name like the Ford Probe, the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird -- all of which handily outsell the Talon.

And, it is in a shrinking market segment as more buyers opt for sport utilities or other modes of transport. The Probe, Camaro, Firebird, even the Ford Mustang, posted sales declines last year, too.

I felt it just walking up to the test Talon, with its bulging rear fenders and rear spoiler. Too bad the rear fender over the wheel on one side had a ding in it from where a car door evidently had hit. There is body side molding on the Talon to handle bumps from other car doors, but it does not extend over to this fender area.

The Eclipse doesn't even have that body molding on the doors.

The test Talon was the top-of-the-line TSi with a 210-horsepower, turbo-charged engine. Mated to a five-speed manual, it ran to 80-miles-per-hour-plus before I knew it. In fact, I made my best time ever in a Sacramento-to-San Francisco roundtrip and thanked my lucky stars no cops were around to record it.

The ride was harsh, though. The Talon came down hard and loudly on uneven pavement, even some expansion cracks on the highway. At times, I felt my body vibrating as I traveled along.

Steering was instantly responsive, though, and the car stuck on curves and clung to the pavement as it scampered with ease up the San Francisco hills. The test car had all-wheel-drive -- a feature not found on some of the other competing small sport coupes, though it is available on the Eclipse.

The Talon also had big, 17-inch performance tires. But antilock brakes are an option, even on the top model.

Inside, the Talon can be a snug fit, with a cockpit feel for the driver and narrowly scoured-out back seating for two that's not particularly inviting for adults.

The Talon is a hatchback, w ith a big glass area over the cargo space that extends over the headline of the back passengers. The lower-most part of the glass on the test car distorted shapes behind me, so I couldn't tell the kinds of cars following me.

When I tried to position myself higher in the seat to avoid this, I found the rear spoiler blocking some of my view. Neither position seemed optimal.

And unlike most cars today, the cargo area of the Talon has a high liftover.

In summary, the Talon offers many of the tradeoffs expected in a small sporty coupe. Too bad there are some that aren't easily overlooked.

SPECS
What we drove: 1997 Eagle Talon TSi AWD, a two-door subcompact coupe with 2-liter, double overhead cam, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission.

Base price: $20,271

Price as tested (includes options and delivery charge): $25,426

Curb weight: 3,142 pounds

Length: 174.8 inches

T ning circle (curb to curb): 38.1 feet

Standard features: Two front air bags; speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering; tilt steering column; rear washer and wiper; rear defroster; fog lamps; power door locks and windows; split folding rear seat; AM/FM stereo with cassette player and six speakers.

Options on test vehicle: Customer preferred group 25L (includes air conditioning, floor mats, remote keyless entry, antilock brakes, power driver seat, power sunroof and upgraded stereo with single compact disc player, leather seating surfaces); limited slip differential.

EPA figures: 21 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway)

Fuel: Premium unleaded



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