Car enthusiasts were probably hoping that the Eclipse name would be reserved for something with two doors and sporty handling, but instead, it’s been tacked to a new crossover from Mitsubishi.
Engine: 1.5L turbo 4-cyl
Output: 154 hp, 185 lb-ft of torque
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 25 MPG City, 26 MPG Highway (AWD)
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 9.6 City, 8.9 Highway (AWD)
US Price: Starts at $23,295
CAN Price: Starts at $27,798
And while the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a small crossover that fills a rapidly growing market segment, the car itself might end up going down in history. Following the buyout of Mitsubishi by the Nissan-Renault alliance, all future products with the three-diamond badge will feature parts and technology that are mixed and matched from the automotive group’s catalog.
That means the Eclipse Cross is the last product that will be fully designed and built by Mitsubishi. That’s a big deal, and this could be the vehicle that leaves behind a certain legacy.
Mitsubishi of yesteryear has a reputation in North America for delivering some pretty interesting, sporty cars. The original Eclipse was a tuner-friendly compact that lived out the dreams of many enthusiasts. The 3000GT was a tech-heavy (and heavy in general) sports car that could compete with anything. The Lancer Evolution was a rally-bred racecar for the street. There’s more to the brand than just the sporty cars too. Trucks like the Pajero built a bulletproof reputation thanks to an incredible number of wins at the Dakar Rally.
Stand Out Design but Interior Quirks
The Eclipse Cross pays homage to all of these in its own way. The compact crossover sports a unique design, a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive and a ton of technology as well. In a weird way, it’s almost like they tried to combine Mitsubishi’s best hits into one car.
It almost works out. The design is certainly unique, with a sporty profile that’s made possible by that sloping rear end. But despite this being a compact, it looks a bit rugged due to its tall stance, it’s much taller than the other cars it competes with, like the Subaru Crosstrek and Nissan Rogue Sport. It stands out, which is a good trait to have in a sea of all-too-similar crossovers.
Inside, the car also has a few interesting touches, like orange stitching, and carbon-fiber inspired trim. Some of the materials and trims have an uncomfortable flex and squeak to them, especially around the steering wheel controls. Even the power folding mirrors make a noticeable squeak when they fold out.
Fully Featured with a “but”
Other trinkets and gizmos in the Eclipse Cross work fine though. A motorized head-up display is found in front of the driver, and there’s a touch-screen with Android Auto and Apple Car Play support perched on top of the dash. It can be operated with a touch-pad by the center console, but there are no volume or tuning knobs, which is a bit of a pain. Changing volume is done by using a two-finger scroll gesture on the pad, something that isn’t explained or natural to first-time users.
This fully equipped model at least has every available option, like heated seats all around, heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a huge two-segment sunroof. The automaker didn’t skimp out when it came to features, and there’s more on the list in terms of driver assists and safety aids. But space seems to be at a premium. While headroom is good, it’s the rear-seat legroom, and cargo space that’s limited compared to some rivals. The rear seats slide and recline, and total cargo room is listed at about 49 cubic feet, which is still usable for most, but if you fold the rear seats, and slide them forward, there’s an awkward gap left in the cargo area where things can get left behind or lost.
On the Road
While hardly practical, the Eclipse Cross makes up for it on the road. An all-new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine lurks under the hood, and it provides the kind of grunt that is hard to find in this class of subcompact to compact inbetweener crossovers. Making 152-hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, the car feels lively from a stop. It feels a bit less commanding at higher speeds, but that seems to be the car’s continuously variable transmission interfering a bit too much. Put your foot down and it whines and groans at the max RPM it can, which isn’t the most pleasant experience. Competitors typically feature a stepped gear in normal function, where the CVT can feel a bit more like a conventional automatic, but the Eclipse Cross only exhibits this trait when placed in the “manual” mode, which allows drivers to swap between eight pre-set gear ratios. The car is much more fun and exciting in this mode, as you use the big Evo-inspired paddle shifters to change gears.
Surprising me further is the way the car rides and how it handles. The first few twists of the steering wheel reward you with a solid response that’s usually out of character for a crossover. Even better, the car doesn’t crash or feel unreasonably stiff on the road too. For its class, the Eclipse Cross is a very competent car on the road, with the chassis and powertrain working nicely to provide a unique driving experience.
Safety and Confidence
Some of that credit should go to the all-wheel-drive system. Mitsubishi dubs these system super all-wheel control (S-AWC) and it features torque vectoring to help manage power to all four wheels. It has its uses in crummy road surfaces, like gravel and snow, but also helps in every day driving as the system is always working to optimize traction.
Adding some more appeal, this fully loaded model we’re testing features a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring. The systems work decently, although the lane keep and forward collision warning systems needlessly set off a few times, and the adaptive cruise control system offers too much of a gap even at its lowest setting.
The price tag on the Eclipse Cross is a bit troubling. In the U.S., you can get a front-wheel drive model for about $23,295. The most affordable all-wheel-drive car costs around $25,225 in the US, while the Canadian model is just under $27,798. A fully loaded Eclipse Cross will set you back just over $31,915 US, or just under $39,198 in Canada. If you consider this car in the same space as the Subaru Crosstrek or Nissan Rogue Sport, it’s a bit expensive.
The Verdict: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review
But while those cars are more affordable and practical, they’re not exactly inspiring to look at or drive. If that’s what you want in a crossover, and you can overlook other compromises then the Eclipse Cross will deliver. As the brand continues into a new era with Nissan-Renault, it will be interesting how much of this DNA will translate into future cars.