The 1991 Eagle Talon TSi AWD is for people who have decided to just say "Go."
With 195 horsepower and all-wheel drive, the Talon is a splendid, high-performance coupe. This year, two new options are available: anti-lock brakes and an automatic transmission.The Talon, sold by Chrysler Corp.'s Jeep Eagle Division, comes in three versions. Base prices start at just above $13,000 for the front-wheel-drive, 135-horsepower model and top out at $16,513 for the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive version we tested.
Options on the test vehicle included anti-lock brakes ($681), security alarm ($163), four-speed automatic transmission ($823), and a $1,594 package that had power windows and door locks, air conditioning and cruise control. That brought the total to $19,774.
The Talon is one of a set of triplets, along with the Plymouth Laser and Mitsubishi Eclipse. The Laser, however, is not available in all-wheel drive.
The three are built in Normal, Ill., by Diamond-Star Motors, a joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi, incidentally, did most of the vehicle's engineering. The plant's workers are represented by the United Auto Workers union.
The interior is logical and comfortable but offers surprisingly little room for carrying life's worldly belongings.
The front seats, however, offer enough head and leg room for very tall drivers, and while more thigh support would be nice, the seats are comfortable enough place to spend seven or eight hours.
The rearward visibility is limited by the Talon's uppity rump, and up front the nose dives down out of sight. There is also a small, blind spot over the driver's shoulder due to the rather substantial door pillar.
The Talon uses motorized seat belts in the front. They work reasonably well, but one must remember to fasten the lap belt. It is a shame the Talon does not have air bags.
The instruments are easy to see, and the heating and ventilation controls are angled slightly toward the driver. They get top marks for being simple and easy to use.
Like many other coupes, the back seat hardly qualifies as a seat. There are shoulder and lap belts, but putting adults back there would be neither pretty nor fun.
The engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter with 16 valves. It is rated at 195 horsepower at 6,000 revolutions per minute and 203 foot-pounds of torque. The standard five-speed manual is a decent unit, although slightly notchy.
This year, Chrysler added a four-speed automatic. Some of you are no doubt already into The Big Sneer. What kind of heathen would want an automatic transmission in such a coupe? Well, some people just don't want their lives to be a series of up-and-down shifts, and the four-speed is actually a pretty nice deal.
Push the accelerator, and there is a pleasingly short pause before the turbocharger winds up. By about 3,000 revolutions per minute, the Talon is really moving. Under a full throttle, the four-speed does not upshift prematurely, and when the upshifts do finally occur they are crisp little blips that do not significantly interrupt the forward rush.
The all-wheel drive does a great job of tranferring that power directly to the pavement. There is no wheelspin, even on a slightly damp surface under hard acceleration. Just traction action.
Chrysler engineers say the Talon with the five-speed will cover 0-to-60 mph in 6.3 seconds. No figure was available for the automatic-equipped car.
The independent suspension provides a ride that is a little abrupt or choppy at low speeds on a rough surface but smooths out and becomes more comfortable at higher speeds.
The four-wheel disc brakes had an excellent feel: firm, with a quick response and good front-to-rear balancing that made stopping quickly easy and reassuring.
For the occasional nasty situation, such as a slippery surface, the Talon also had the optional anti-lock brakes. They are an excellent safety device and worth considering.
In the reliability area, it is too early for information on the automatic gearbox, but the 1990 all-wheel-drive Talon with the five-speed was rated "better than average" in Consumer Reports' frequency-of-repair survey.