Mitsubishi Eclipse, Toyota Celica or Mercury Cougar?

I could use a little help on a used car purchase. Of these three which would you pick and why. Also, what price would you try to drive the dealership down to?

2001 Mercury Cougar V6
28,756 miles
fully loaded

2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS (V4)
51,000 miles
fully loaded

2001 Toyota Celica GT
71,000 miles
fully loaded

All cars are in near mint condition with only slight scratches and wear on the interior. By fully loaded I mean they have A/C, power windows and locks, CD, moonroof, ABS, anti-theft, automatic transmission, etc.

For $1200 I can add a 24 month bumper to bumper warranty on the cougar. I’m leaning toward the Cougar due to the price and low miles, but I’ve seen many (most) Toyotas last well past 170,000 miles. In fact one toyota Celica I test drove had 141,000 miles and the dealership was STILL asking for $8500.

I’m looking to get about 100,000 miles out of the car.

The Toyota will last forever. In my (and my family’s experience) you have to get in a major accident to actually have to replace one.

The Toyota is attractive…but it is $3000 more than the Cougar and has over 40,000 more miles from day one. Is the Toyota REALLY worth that significant an increase in price?

I had a Camary that lasted 12 years and 250k miles.

Yeah, go for the Toyota. They really are built that well.

Celica, unless it’s been in a major accident. High quality, reliable, most sporty of the three, will hold onto resale value best.

I have a 2004 Celica. I did a lot of research, and it’s really a fantastic machine. It might not be the very sexiest or fastest sports car, but it is nicer than the the Mercury or the Eclipse. The new eclipse is nice – very nice – but pre-2006 models are not. I test drove the 2004 Eclipse against the Celica, and even though it was a V6, it was obviously sluggish in comparison (I assume because of weight.) Celica GT also gets 30 MPG if you drive it sensibly.

Also, neither the cougar or the eclipse will be on the road in 5 years. If you buy the celica, you’ll probably end up parking it on the edge of a cliff in a hurricane in 2015 just to get rid of the damn thing. And then it will float to France and still be in better shape than the crap they drive there.

I’ve only driven mine 8,000 miles in two years, and I took it in to be serviced last week, and the guy just asked me a couple of questions and told me if I didn’t start driving it, I would die before it did. I’m 27.

1.) Celica
2.) Cougar
999999) Mitsubishi Eclipse

Yeah, I’d go for the Celica. The extra miles are cancelled out by its Toyotaness.

When I had to sell my Miata due to our need for a back seat, I researched the Eclipse, as I was considering a Spyder. After reading about the reliability, service, etc., I’d never consider one.

Miles on a Toyota mean nothing. You might think the video below is somehow untypical, but you would be wrong:

If you offer 10,500, maybe they’ll split the diff with you.

That video was absolutely hilarious.

Not one person here has said take the Cougar and the 24K bumper to bumper warranty. I’m rather surprised by that, and it is one of my sticking points- buying a car at 70,000 miles with no warranty.

Background: My grandfather started the Ford dealership in our town. My father took it over. For my entire life, I’ve never owned a car that wasn’t a Ford. I used to argue about Ford vs. Chevy (we didn’t have any imports) in school. I can still identify nearly every model of Ford from headlights at night, within a couple of years of manufacture.

Don’t get the Cougar.

Ford does two things well: pickups and large, large cars. Any four-cylinder made by Ford is a crime against nature, and the sixes aren’t a lot better. If you’re buying used, you’ve got basically two stops to get a deal:

Pay little money for a Nissan. Not as nice, but they last forever and the prices are incredible.

Upscale a bit and buy a Toyota. Nicer features and similar lifespan.

You’re really gambling on anything else. Of course, somebody will always pipe in with an anecdote about that great '27 Mercedes they had with 4,000,000 miles that still fellated them every morning, but those two brands are proven to last forever, across all models. Things to utterly avoid:

Small American cars.


That’s because you really won’t need the warranty with the Toyota. Also, nothing will break down until the warranty is up anyway, at which point the engine will fall out of the car.

Oh, and considering the gas crunch, you might want to look for a Nissan Sentra, you should be able to pick up a 2000-ish model with 70k-ish miles for 4-5k. The engines are just getting good at that point, and you can buy something nice with the 6k you just saved.


Yah, a Nissan Sentra can take a lot of neglect too. It’s a good car for waitresses, college students, or anyone who either doesn’t know how to, doesn’t care to, or simply can’t afford to properly maintain a car.

Personally my current car is my favorite I’ve ever owned. If you got the extra $$$, hunt down an Subaru WRX. Seats 4, over 200 ponies, and all wheel drive. It is the most fun I’ve had behind the wheel, and other than the Camary mentioned above, all I’ve ever owned has been sports cars. Oddly, that Camary was a 6, and was actually alot of fun to drive. Oh, and just to make myself clear, that car didn’t die, it rusted apart, but still ran great. I just got sick of having a bomb port on the floor during the winter.
All you WRX owners- if you haven’t taken your car off road- you HAVE to. At least go find some nasty mountain dirt roads and really see what this car can do…too much fun…and it has only cost me one sheared axle:)
The only thing I never liked about the Celica is head room. Take that sucker over some bumps and make sure your head doesn’t get jammed up into the roof. That was actually why I didn’t buy one a few years ago- other than that I liked the car alot.

Get the Toyota. Just run it by the lube shop every 2 to 3 thousand miles and you’re set.

Celica. Toyota makes great cars.

You should really get the GT-S, though.

Someone above was against the Eclipse. I have an Eclipse. My experience with it has been mixed. On the one hand, the door handles are cheap, as are certain other things that may or may not annoy you. Little things won’t work properly (your trunk might stick). the paint on my car is crap and is coming off. OTOH, it’s a 99 Eclipse and I have never had any major work done on it. I change the oil regularly, but that’s what you should do with any car. As with other foreign cars when you do take it in, it can be costly, but I have only done that for tune-ups and a fuse problem I was having (as far as the engine goes). It’s super reliable. Mine is an RS, not a GS, btw.

That said, Toyota’s are great cars. I wouldn’t buy an American car for anything.

I had an '01 Eclipse (GT convertible) bought new, sold last summer (needed something bigger, and needed to switch to an automatic so my wife and I could swap cars as needed).

I was happy with it. IIRC, I never had a single mechanical issue with it. Thumbs up from me.

I think you could negotiate a lower price on any of the 3 though - those prices sound too high for 4.5 year old cars that weren’t very expensive when new.