Pros: Fast, handles like it's on rails. All wheel drive is great. These cars are addictive.
Cons: Expensive to maintain, repair. Specialty shops take advantage, general automotives don't know how to fix.
This review is for the Eagle Talon TSI, AWD. That means it is the 2.0 liter turbo all wheel drive version of this car. There are actually 4 different models of talons during the 90-94 years:
Any one of these cars will easily reach 120-140 mph top speed. I'm sure most people, like myself, don't plan on taking it that fast.
1.8 lit fwd: 92 horsepower, 1.8 liter engine, economical, not very fast, but with a 5 speed is not bad as a commuter car. The 5 speed version has enough pickup but just not really fast, not a real racer. I owned one and it was good for commuting and long trips as well.
2.0-liter non-turbo fwd: 135 horsepower, pretty good mid range power in a 5 speed. The auto version is not really that fast, but adequate for most people. I know because I have also owned an automatic 2.0. The speed of this is about the same as a 1.8 with a manual transmission.
Anytime you get an automatic, you notice a decrease in performance compared to the same engine in a manual. It still has enough power though; there are plenty of slower cars out there. This is not however a performance car, without a lot of modification.
2.0-turbo fwd: 195 horsepower turbo, fwd. Pretty fast car. Actually I have never driven this one, but I own the AWD turbo, and I know its fast; they both have the same engine.
2.0 turbo awd: same as above but with all wheel drive, handles like it's on rails! This is the best car of the 4, in my opinion. Its also the most expensive to buy and maintain. About twice as much as a 1.8 or a 2.0 non-turbo. Yes, this car is a performance car.
I previously had owned the 1.8 version (in the form of a Mitsubishi eclipse, same car, just different badging). Well once i got used to the 1.8, I realized that the eclipse i was driving was pretty slow compared to some of the people out on the road here in Seattle that like to cut me off and make other types of moves that once even almost resulted in a road rage incident.
I was on my way to an appointment, and drove by some used car dealership (which i should know better to do business with btw). I saw a blue talon, decided to take a look to see if it is a turbo, and it was!
Went for a test drive, there was a huge difference in power and handling between this and my 1.8.
I bought the car! It had 99K on it at the time.
The clutch would release right of the floor, either causing the engine to die, or for anyone in the car to almost get whiplash when the clutch would engage. Dealership said there is nothing you ca do (Mitsubishi dealership; as they usually have better knowledge then the Plymouth/jeep people). He was wrong, you can adjust the clutch engagement point underneath the dash, I did it and it worked.
The oil pressure looked low, later turned out it was the oil pressure sending unit. Here's one way to know if it's the oil pressure sending unit: when you rev the gas, the oil pressure gauge doesn't move very much, and at idle, always sits at the bottom, yet oil light never goes on. Normally with a good stock gauge, the needle moves pretty quickly when you rev it.
At the time, though, I didn't know it was the gauge, thought it was something wrong and it influenced what i poured in to the oil: thickeners, over filling to help increase oil pressure, tried engine flush (never do this on high mileage cars!), experimenting with all types of oils, mixing different weights (don't try this at home).
I drove this car hard and fast. It is a very fun car to drive. Makes you want to go driver around just for fun (and I did!). I put about 30,000 hard and fast miles on this car in one year!
I took it to the dealership cause the transfer case was leaking (there was a recall, so I had to take it here), and when i picked up my car and started driving home, my engine broke down completely. I also noticed that my AC was on and the radio was on a different channel (somebody at the dealership was out driving my car hard it looks like). By the way, it was the Plymouth/jeep in Bellevue, WA. Stay away from that place like the plague!
After driving it really hard for 30,000 miles, my first gear was not working right, when you revved the car passed 3500 RPM, it would feel like the gear was not transmitting the power all the way to the wheels, and make a weird grinding noise.
Time for a new engine and tranny!
I spent about 3500 for a used engine and tranny install. So now I have quite a bit of money into this thing, probably about 10K altogether including the interest, and I just put some new tires on. I will never get that out of it, so I will keep it and drive it, I hope it lasts for a few years, because I have too much into it to spend a lot again on it. If its something not too expensive, of course I will do it though, I have too much into it not to!
Bottom line: these cars in turbo form are a kick in the pants, blast to drive. If you need work done on yours, learn to do it your self or you either get ripped off, or they don't know how to work on it right. Everything you need to know is available online. www.dsmtalk.com www.dsmtuners.com.
Beware of DSM specialists; sometimes they take advantage of newbies. You can find someone that has a good rep and still get screwed. But thats the auto repair business for you in general anyway I guess. Its really hard to get work done on it without getting either ripped off, and/or someone that isnt capable of doing it correctly (timing belt job on the 2.0 cars is kind of tricky).
Once you get hooked, you will never want to sell it even though the car will frustrate you with expensive repairs. (A clutch at the dealership is $1000 on an AWD car) But then again, any sporty fast car that is 10 years or older will probably be a money pit.
Only by the turbocharged cars if you are willing to make a long-term commitment, either financially and/or time wise working on it. Turbocharged engines run hotter, changing your oil frequently is more important, and you also would probably benefit from using synthetic oil. A replacement turbo is about $600 by the way, they usually last about 100K miles.
AWD cars have even more parts because of the driveline and other components needed to run the power to the rear wheels. Also, all 4 tires have to match exactly in make, size, and even tread ware, or it will ruin the AWD function.