1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse

Change year or car

Change year or car

$13,830

starting MSRP

1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

7 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse trim comparison will help you decide.

1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse review: Our expert's take

By

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

There are two ways to look at the 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX coupe.

The first is with lust — hip little car, date magnet, cool wheels, that sort of thing.

The second is with buyer’s remorse, as in: “Geez, wish I had the extra bucks to get a BMW Z3, Porsche 986 Boxster or Mercedes-Benz SLK.”

The Eclipse GSX and its German rivals live in the same pocket-rocket town. But the Eclipse comes from the poorer, wannabe side of the tracks.

Ditto the Mazda Miata, Toyota Celica, Honda Prelude, Acura Integra and Nissan 240 SX coupes — all hot little sportsters, all lots of fun, all discernibly wanting when compared with the German competition. Which is ironic.

Japanese models such as the Miata, Eclipse and Prelude rekindled America’s passion for small, affordable, high-performance coupes. The Germans were barely visible in that market several years ago.

Then BMW came along with its fabulous little 1.9-liter Z3, “affordable” by BMW standards at $29,425 a pop. Mercedes-Benzlater rolled in with its splendiferous SLK coupe, and Porsche showed up with its kick-butt 986 Boxster — both for around $40,000 and both “affordable” by Mercedes-Benz and Porsche standards.

The effect, if you’re the owner of this week’s tested Eclipse GSX, is like living in a middle-income community that suddenly has started sprouting luxury homes. You love your house, but when you take a walk around the block and see a galumptious $600,000 home sitting within view of your $250,000 abode, you start wondering about what you could have had if you had been a bit richer, or if you had handled your money a little differently.

Background: For people bereft of envy, for those who just want a tiny car that can run like heck, the Eclipse fits the bill — which can reach BMW and Mercedes-Benz proportions depending on the model and equipment chosen.

There are six versions of the Eclipse — the RS, GS, GS-T and GSX hard-top coupes, and the Eclipse Spyder GS and GS-T convertibles. That’s a lot of samples of what essentially is a niche vehicle. But Mitsubishi figures that the pocket-rocket market is big enough to capture buyers at a variety of price points, and it wants to net as many as possible.

The tested GSX is the all-wheel-drive iteration of the Eclipse, which means that it is the most versatile of the lot. The thing runs and corners like a demon on wet and dry roads. It has an overall nice feel at speed. But “overall” does not include shifting feel, which is choppy, to put it mildly.

The GSX’s engine, shared with the GS-T, is a rascal. It’s a turbocharged, two-liter, inline four-cylinder job rated 210 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, with torque rated 214 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm with standard five-speed manual transmission.

The optional, electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission reduces horsepower on the GSX/GS-T engine to 205 at 6,000 rpm, and changes torque to 220 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm. Lesser Eclipse models get a non-turbo, 1 40-horsepowerversion of that engine.

The Eclipse GSX comes with lots of standard equipment, including air conditioner, cruise control, power door locks and windows, chromed dual exhaust pipes, dual front air bags, four-wheel disc brakes and 17-inch radial all-weather tires.

But you can still slip into Option Hell with this one, even for items that shouldn’t be optional — such as the anti-lock brakes. And there are other options that you simply should eschew, such as Mitsubishi’s version of leather seats, which are so lacking in suppleness, they seem to be crafted from the skin of a malnourished cow.

’97 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX

Complaints: Useless rear seats. Problematic exit-entry in rear. Optional, high-rise rear deck spoiler looks silly and interferes with rear vision while contributing nothing to the drivability of the car.

Praise: With the exception of shifting feel, the car is lots of fun to drive. So much fun, in fact, you could be seduced into ignori g its not able shortcomings. Excellent overall assembly quality.

Head-turning quotient: Split decision. Those who love it really love it; and those who hate it, who find it somewhat adolescent, hate it with a passion. I vote with the lovers on this one. The Eclipse GSX’s aggressive bubble styling is funky.

Mileage: About 23 miles per gallon (16.9-gallon tank, estimated 380-mile range on usable volume of recommended premium unleaded), combined city-highway, running with one to three occupants and light cargo (which is about all you can carry in a 5.1-cubic-foot trunk).

Sound system: Eight-speaker AM/FMstereo radio and console-mounted, single-disc CD changer with an optional trunk-mounted, remote control 10-disc CD changer. By Mitsubishi. Boss boogie.

Price: Base price on Eclipse GSX is $23,220.Dealer invoice on base model is $19,963. Price as tested is $25,546, including $1,906 in options (rear spoiler, 10-disc CD changer, anti-lock brakes, limited-slip differential and keyless entry system), and a $420 destination charge. Alaska pays $540 in destination charges.

Purse-strings note: This is a total “want” car, which means that the final price can depend on how much you want it and the dealer’s eagerness to sell it. The car is surrounded by competitors. Shop and compare.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.4
  • Interior design 3.7
  • Performance 4.4
  • Value for the money 4.1
  • Exterior styling 5.0
  • Reliability 3.5

Most recent consumer reviews

4.3

Great Car

I bought my 1997 eclipse rs in 2004 for $4,000. It had 117,000 miles on it when I bought it and 240,000 miles on it when I sold it in 2011. It got GREAT gas mileage and never failed to let me down. I used to drive the heck out of this car! Only after about 200,00 miles is when it started having a few issues. Still, I had only put about $1,500 in repairs to it all total. I had never thought about buying a Mitsu before, but now i would buy another one again in a heartbeat! The only reason why i sold it is because I had a child.. if your thinking about getting an eclipse.. go for it!

4.6

Most Reliable And Fun Car I've Owned

I'm a second owner of this same car with the only difference being mine is manual 5 spd. with leather interior and seats. I've owned mine since 2003, and to date I've only had to replace the fuel pump, battery and a couple hoses. I do maintain it well. It had 72,000 original miles when I bought it and it just now hit 150,000. With ultra performance tires this car handles like a dream. Directional tread Hankook tires truly have helped with hydroplane issues which I had in the beginning. The inifinity stereo system has been a big plus. Sunroof/Moonroof hasn't ever leaked. The clear coat is just now wearing off exterior and I am planning to repaint this rare gem soon. Going back with the original Serano Red paint. I have had to replace the driver side exterior door handle twice, but overall it's been an excellent car, and a fun to drive 5 spd. on those curvey, mountainous roads. Mine averages about 32-34 on highway and about 30 in the city. : )

4.3

Good lil car

I've owned my 97 eclipse for awhile now and it has never let me down love the exterior of the car I put projector headlights on it and also a few other things as well. I don't really like the automatic transmission that comes with the car but The 5 speed manual is amazing to drive the only problem about the 5 speed transmission is that is only 5 speed! The car feels like it needs another gear and you can feel it when you drive it on the freeway. So that one downside the other downside is it dose not have a lot of room space inside the car. But besides that it has never broken down on me and I drive about 60 miles every day with that car my car has about 142,000 miles and still has lots of power can see this car lasting over 200k miles but I probable won't get that far since the interior is just a lil too small for me.

See all 14 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Mitsubishi
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
Less than 5 years/less than 60,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
Remainder of original 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain
Remainder of original 10-year/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
123-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

Compare the competitors

1997

Nissan 240SX

$18,359

starting MSRP

1996

Nissan 200SX

$12,449

starting MSRP

1994

Eagle Talon

$11,892

starting MSRP