2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross First Drive and Review

The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is exactly what the automaker needs and what many customers want, with a splash of unique styling and high tech goodies to round out the package.

Summing it up is easy: The Eclipse Cross is another compact crossover for Mitsubishi, but one that’s more focused on style, handling, and technology than the more family-friendly Outlander and value-packed but smaller Outlander Sport (called the RVR in Canada).

Mitsubishi is offering another crossover because that’s all people want to buy right now. The brand wants to be a destination for crossover-crazed consumers and the new Eclipse Cross is part of the plan. 

What Is It?

Funky looking and high tech, the Eclipse Cross is kind of like a smaller Outlander. The Outlander can accommodate seven passengers in some configurations, however, while the Eclipse Cross can handle only five people. Despite the unique proportions, the car feels very spacious, and rear seat space isn’t limited. You’ll find more than 33 inches of headroom in the back and more than 35 inches of leg room.

The cargo area is large and modular thanks to folding rear seats that also slide forward for additional space. Total space behind the front seats is 48.8 cubic feet and when the rear seats are up, you’ll be able to find more than 22 cubic feet. There’s no power liftgate or a foot-swinging gimmick to embarrass you at the grocery store.

The interior isn’t a showcase of luxury materials and design, but it’s very interestingly chiseled and styled. Reminiscent of the three-dimensional dash of recent Lexus models, the Eclipse Cross features fewer eye-catching goodies, but our top-of-the-line SEL (or GT in Canada) model featured nifty orange stitching in the leather seats.

Interior Full of Features

On the dashboard is a seven-inch touchscreen that packs Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. Like a Lexus, the Mitsubishi uses a finicky touchpad to operate the screen as well, which also supports multi-finger gestures like swiping to increase volume (because there’s no volume knob). There doesn’t seem to be a navigation system, so drivers will have to use their smartphone to get to where they’re going. 

There’s an available color head-up display that pops up out of the dash and hides away discreetly when not in use. It’s a rare option in this segment, so it’s interesting to see Mitsubishi offer it. The car also features a number of driver assistance systems and safety nets, including forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and a lane departure warning system.

New Engine Under the Hood

Under the hood of the Eclipse Cross is a new turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that features both direct injection and multi-port injection. The power figures seem a bit on the low side at 152 horsepower, but the 184 pound-feet of torque makes up for it. The engine seems up to the task of whisking this crossover around town but seems overwhelmed during uphill stints.

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The CVT is buzzy and noisy, but feels lively and energetic, keeping the engine working to maximize performance. If the driver wants to take things into their own hands, there are paddle shifters that will provide eight preset gear ratios to swap through. There’s also an economy-focused drive mode that will maximize fuel economy by banishing any fun. After a few miles in this mode, it was turned off and wasn’t turned on again.

Power in our top spec tester is sent to all four wheels via the brand’s Super All Wheel Control system. This system can shift power on the front axle between the left and right wheels in order to improve handling and confidence on the road. It’s pretty cool that Mitsubishi sticks all-wheel drive on everything but the base model, further adding to the car’s value advantage. There are three settings for the all-wheel-drive system, Auto, Gravel, and Snow, which are designed to help improve traction in different conditions.

Shines on the Road

On the road, the first thing you’ll notice is how responsive the steering is. Where other crossovers can feel clumsy during quick direction changes, the Mitsubishi felt pretty good on a winding canyon route that is typically sports car territory. The Eclipse Cross was not as agile as a sporty sedan, but it was competent and enjoyable in this setting. The chassis is stiff and well braced, which is a standout feature of this CUV. It’s enjoyable to drive and reminds me of the early Mazda CX-5 from a few years ago. 

With big mirrors and plenty of glass, visibility isn’t a concern at all, and those extra driving aids go a long way to improve the familiarity with the car. 

Mitsubishi Connect

The final part of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross to mention is the Mitsubishi Connect telematics system that’s available in the U.S. Emergency response and roadside information services are becoming more common in vehicles and Mitsubishi is meeting the high-tech demands of its customers. Using an onboard 4G LTE modem, the service allows drivers to get help in the case of a collision or emergency. There’s also a smartphone app that allows tracking of miles and remote functionality like door locking and climate controls. It’s free for the first two years of ownership and is $99 a year after that. That goes hand-in-hand with Mitsubishi’s aggressive warranty coverage that includes a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle warranty.

The Verdict: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review

Ultimately, this crossover surprises with its road-focused driving feel, well-equipped interior and standard all-wheel drive. I wish it was available at a more eye-catching price, as it starts at around $24,000 in the U.S. The main competitors are the Mazda CX-5, which offers a more upscale look and interior, as well as the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, which both offer great value for buyers. The Eclipse Cross is a perfect fit with those cars, fitting right between the Mazda and the Korean cars with its distinct combination of style and equipment.

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