My load is running six hours late and I’m bored to tears. So I’ve decided to start writing, and review my own personal 1990 Eagle Talon TSi.
So, What Is It?
Since you asked, the Eagle Talon, Plymouth Laser and Mitsubishi Eclipse are triplets with differences in appearance. For the sake of this review, I’ll refer only to the first generation, produced from 1990-1994 under the Diamond Star Motors joint venture. This partnership put Chrysler, Plymouth and Mitsubishi together. The Eclipse was the “high line” and the Laser was the “low line” and they all were much similar save for a few things. For one, the Laser didn’t have available all wheel drive until the 1992 model year, and AWD models are insanely rare.
My car is the Eagle Talon, specifically a front wheel drive. The TSi naming notes that the car is a turbocharged 2.0 liter 4 cylinder producing 195 horsepower in factory trim, with a 5 speed transmission. Automatic models had a smaller turbo, smaller injectors and output 180hp from the same 2.0 liter.
Lets start with exterior styling, namely that I find it to be a beautiful car. The 1990-1991 model years featured pop up headlights, and are typically regarded to be the most desirable models. Each car had unique styling due to having different bumpers, tail lights and subtle differences. For example, in the 90-91 model years no Plymouth Laser was available with a rear spoiler.
Sryling is subjective, but I find the Talon models to be the most attractive of the trio. Styling isn’t over the top, but also isn’t mundane either. My car features a large front mount intercooler and carbon fiber aero shutters, neither of which is factory equipped obviously. With the headlights down, the car takes on a very sleek persona, and when the headlights are raised, it instantly becomes the quintessential car of the 1990s.
The Talon is far from being an “upper echelon” sports car, rather it was truly a sporty economy car. Prices for a turbo front wheel drive fell under $20,000 in 1990, making it a neither expensive nor cheap vehicle. With that being said, the styling is quite nice in my opinion. In two tone “dot matrix” trim such as mine, the silver contrasting side mouldings bring a nice break in lines of the body, it truly makes the car look slightly more handsome.
Let’s be honest though, the little faux vent on the lower rocker makes the car appear cheaper to the masses, and just because I idolize these cars, doesn’t mean everyone else does either. I have to speak on an unbiased level, so the way the trim attaches to the side of the car and such definitely feels cheap.
Moving onto the rear of the car, you are immediately drawn to that rear spoiler I earlier mentioned. When these cars don’t have the rear spoiler they tend to look massively anorexic. I find the rear of the Talon to be one of its’ strongest assets, even if mine does have a cracked center tail light.
Not everything is perfect though, by today’s standards that massive antenna looks completely terrible, and the reverse lights definitely haven’t aged well.
So let’s go ahead and score exterior appearance on a scale of 1-10, one being the lowest and 10 being the highest. I’ll go ahead and give the Talon a 6 out of 10.
I give it a six not because it isn’t beautiful, it truly has aged well. But the reverse light situation, trim attachment and panel gaps detract from the overall experience. Add in the fact that these cars practically came from the factory with paint fade, and well... You get the idea.
This is where the debate begins. Again, I am doing this from an unbiased standpoint, it wouldn’t be fair to throw my bias into the mix. With that being said, these cars have a very sporty feel from the driver cockpit, and the overall layout is very good. The center armrest puts your hand direct onto the shifter, the hand brake is right next to the shifter where it should be, and I do love the OEM steering wheel.
Regardless, the factory seats are notorious for ripping, the dashes are notorious for cracking, and it only gets worse from there. As you can see from the picture with my daughter, my seat is in rough condition, it’s ripped. Miraculously my dash is uncracked. My steering wheel is peeled like a banana.
When you’re driving one of these, I don’t care what condition it is in, it’s going to rattle inside. You can just about learn the speed of the vehicle based on where squeaks and rattles are coming from, I’m serious. Additionally, all of the mounting bolts are covered up by pieces of convoluted trim, this is about as cheap as an interior gets.
In way of luxury, some of these cars did have cruise control and air conditioning, my car has both. My car also has the standard power locks and does have power windows. It doesn’t have airbags, it doesn’t have ABS. While I prefer it this way, it definitely deducts from the overall score.
In terms of comfort, it’s actually very comfortable to drive these. I’m 6 foot tall and 245 pounds and I fit comfortably in the seat. The head rest is adjustable and most of these I’ve ever seen have inflatable lumbar on the driver and passenger seat. Speaking of the seats, they’re manually adjusted.
Time to score the interior. While I find the gauges to be sexy, they often malfunction. You’re hard pressed to find a working oil pressure gauge and the factory boost gauge is laughable.
3/10 and that’s being generous!
Things get better here for the Talon, because this is where the car starts to shine. This particular car is equipped with a five speed manual transmission, a very good one at that. These days, most manual transmission DSMs are notchy and suffer from worn syncros, especially with AWD models. Admittedly when we got this car, the transmission was garbage, and we had to repair it. Since rebuilding the shifter, bushings and cables, she’s as smooth as new.
Clutch operation is painfully easy, I learned to drive a stick with my 1990 TSi AWD about 14 years ago. These cars are very easy to drive. Steering is very nicely weighted, assuming the power steering is not deleted.
Handling isn’t excellent for a stock model, but not terrible either. My car could use new bushings and tie rod ends eventually, but being on coilovers doesn’t hurt matters at all. Handling of my particular car is fairly excellent, except...
Torque steer. If I want to accelerate through a corner on the tires I’m on, it’s practically suicidal. That doesn’t help the case here at all, but it’s one of the drawbacks of a FWD model. Not a drawback however is acceleration, thanks to being far lighter and not suffering from debilitating driveline losses. My car is modified, and I’ll score it accordingly. With the 16G turbo cranking out a modest 13PSI spiking to 17PSI, it’s able to effortlessly accelerate to 130 miles per hour.
There’s not much drama per se, after about 45 miles per hour when the front tires regain traction, it just goes, and it goes smoothly and safely. Getting the car stopped is another story however. 1990-1991 models had smaller single piston brakes, and it shows. It literally takes longer to stop from 130 miles per hour than it does to accelerate there. It’s borderline dangerous honestly.
So it handles well, accelerates very well, and stops badly. That gives driving experience a 7/10.
Reliability And Practicality
The second to last catetgory were going to do here is focused on driving this car daily. It’s been a part of my home for six months, and has been driven daily. Since being driven daily, it has encountered zero issues, which will probably change the next time I drive it and I hate myself for owning it.
For now though, it’s been rock solid. I’ve depended on it to take me across the state multiple times, I pick my daughter up in it, I run errands in it, it’s been stellar. It truly has been the lowest maintenance vehicle I’ve owned in quite some time.
Practicality is very strong, although the back seat is small. If you’d like a laugh, I’ll give you one. We’ve had four full sized adults in this car at one point, albeit the back seat passengers were in hellish agony. Still yet, in a pinch, it will do the job. It’s just my daughter and I, and we’ve got plenty of room. The hatch is very roomy, and the rear seats fold down. This car has plenty of cargo space, especially for its’ size.
Fuel economy is always excellent with these, I’ve gotten low 30s on the high as long as I keep my foot out of it. Push the skinny pedal however and things get ugly pretty fast. The 4G63 has massive cylinder head ports and a large OEM fuel system, it moves tons of air and fuel under boost. Mine is tuned on DSM Link and in open loop she’s leaned out, so fuel economy is very strong.
Overall in the practicality and reliability department, I’ve got to give this car a 9/10.
Weekend Car/Cool Factor
If you’ve been keeping track, this is the fifth category and we have a total of 50 possible points. The last thing the Talon is being judged on, is how cool is it? Is it a great weekend car?
Yes, yes it is. Just on Sunday I drove it to the local O’Reilly auto parts store to get some clear coat, and I parked in front. There were three guys probably under 25 years old that immediately was asking questions about the car, one offered to buy it.
It doesn’t stop there either, I’ve been approached more in the Talon than anything else I’ve owned. Other car guys give me a wave, bikes pipe at me, the car gets noticed. 1G DSMs are the things of legend, they have a notorious reputation for being fast, and having a big front mount intercooler and aero shutters gets a car like this noticed. Drive through town and let the big Tial blow off valve sing out, and it’s going to turn heads.
These cars have one of the best fan bases out there, we have an entire race dedicated every year to these cars, this is an easy decision. The Talon gets a solid 10/10 here.
Tally it all up, the Talon gets a 35/50. This is only the second car I’ve scored this way, but seems rather solid to me, it’s a passing grade.
This is a better second car than a primary car, it lacks any concept of luxury, it’s loud and it’s crashy. This isn’t the type of car you’d want to drive across country, unless you’re like me and don’t mind the lack of any modern amenities.
If you are like me though, you appreciate the other qualities of a car like this. The sound of a 16G turbo spooling up, the roar of the 4G63 through a 3” exhaust, the adrenaline rush of torque steer, all while driving a cult classic.
I hope you enjoyed reading my rambling review, and I plan to shoot a video that condenses all of this into a more hands on perspective.