2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review: Better, But Too Rich

There’s an important rule that applies to both cars and clothing: never skimp on what touches the ground.

For cars, that of course means tires. (Here is where I am morally obligated to remind you of the importance of winter tires.) For us fleshy meat-bags, shoes are important, and the wrong set can seriously mess up not only your feet but also your posture.

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Around a decade ago, I bought myself a nice pair of shoes. They weren’t cheap, but they were super-supportive and took a beating. I was hooked. Sadly, every few months the asking price ballooned up. By the time I was looking to replace my well-worn gray sneakers, another pair would have run me nearly twice as much.

I was reminded of this during my time with the redesigned 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. This is a solid compact crossover, one brimming with features and wrapped in an enticing shape (to these eyes). But in pricey top-level trim, Mitsubishi has pushed the Eclipse Cross into a fiercely competitive part of the market, where the SUV’s shortcomings become harder to justify.

What’s new?

The Eclipse Cross has gained nearly half a foot (140 mm) in length for this year, despite not changing platforms. Most of that (4.1 inches / 105 mm) is at the rear of the little trucklet, expanding cargo space. The stretch surely hurts the approach and departure angles, but let’s be real: nobody is taking the Eclipse Cross around Moab. More practicality is very much appreciated in this segment.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Review: First Drive

Mitsubishi’s styling team has used this larger canvas to spiff up the Eclipse Cross shape. It’s still very angular, with even thinner blades of front headlight giving it a squinting visage not unlike the new Outlander range-topper. The Eclipse Cross apes the ice-cube-tray like foglight design of its bigger brother, too. Providing a more assertive stance are standard 18-inch alloys across the board—though this tester features a unique wheel design.

It’s around back where you’ll find the most significant changes. Gone is the bizarre two-pane rear window design, cleaning up the taillights and improving visibility. Take a few steps back, and the overall look is attractive and stylish, yet still distinctive enough to stand out in a very crowded segment. The bright red paint certainly doesn’t hurt.

Inside, the 2022 Eclipse Cross features an improved infotainment system, measuring a solid 8.0 inches regardless of trim. The screen sits closer to the driver too, so it’s easier to use. Mitsubishi has changed up the seats for what it claims are more comfortable items, including the rear head rests.

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Full of features

This Canadian-spec GT trim sits at the top of the Eclipse Cross lineup. In America, the equivalent is the SEL with Touring Package. Checking that particular box gives American buyers heated rear seats, the upgraded eight-speaker sound system, head-up display, added driver assists, adaptive cruise control, and more. All of that is present here, but the gray leather isn’t compatible with the package south of the border. Score one for Canada.

SEE ALSO: Subaru Crosstrek vs Mazda CX-30 Comparison

The Eclipse Cross interior is comfortable and spacious, with a hip point that makes getting in and out a purely lateral move for this 5’10” writer. Material quality is inconsistent: the “carbon fiber” trim on the door panels won’t fool anybody, but the squishy armrests just aft are swell, and the leather covering the seats feels great. The driving position is solid, with clean, highly legible analog dials ahead. This being the top-shelf model, I’m surprised at the blank buttons on the steering wheel.

The center console won’t win any design awards, particularly with the mis-matched buttons beside the shifter, but it’s easy to get the lay of the land quickly in here. Physical climate controls are a plus, too. I’m not normally a fan of the separate-glass head-up display (HUD) approach, but it works well in the ‘Cross, sitting high enough to not get muddled in hood reflections. The infotainment system is similarly easy to read, but slow to respond. The built-in TomTom navigation also repeatedly beeped at me during the test period. With no visual clues as to why, it just became a nuisance; luckily, it can be turned off.

The sloping roofline suggests a cosy back row, and while that’s somewhat the case—headroom is just 37.3 inches (947 mm)—the dual powered moonroof setup lets in a lot of natural light. It’s an unexpected feature, one you won’t find elsewhere. The rear seats themselves are fine for adults; the cushion feels a little firm. That they offer heat is a welcome bonus, too.

Crying out for more power

One area Mitsubishi hasn’t messed with is the engine bay. The 2022 Eclipse Cross still comes with the same 1.5-liter turbocharged four-pot, sending the same 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet through the same continuously variable transmission. In America, buyers have the option of front- or all-wheel drive, the latter using Mitsubishi’s clever S-AWC system. Canadian Eclipse Crosses are all AWD.

First, the good: the CVT ratio range is well-judged, ensuring the ‘Cross is plenty capable of zipping around in the city. If you’re so inclined, the paddle shifters do a solid job of locking in “ratios” for specific needs, too. The ride quality is very good, gently sanding off the edges of bumps yet resisting lean in corners. The steering wheel is light on weight and feel, but no more so than anything else in the class without a Mazda badge on the nose.

Now, the not-so-good: while the CVT proves a worthy ally at city speeds, it pulls a heel turn beyond them. The ratio always seems too long for the task at hand, forcing the driver to mash the pedal for any semblance of forward motion. That’s about all they’ll get, too: there’s a lot of noise from up ahead, but it doesn’t translate to thrust. The Eclipse Cross has a reasonable 152 hp, and 184 lb-ft of torque is nothing to sneer at, yet the CVT makes both numbers feel inflated. Making matter worse is an inconsistent throttle response at tip-in, which results in jerky off-the-line progress. What makes the transmission calibration all the more frustrating is that the little Mirage felt better with exactly half the horsepower.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Review: Fitness for Purpose

The ‘Cross feels happiest at steady-state cruising. It’s here that it showcases the same calm as the smaller Mirage, with an added layer of insulation from the outside world. Despite the huge side mirrors—great, by the way—there’s little wind noise. I had the car during an uncharacteristically damp period, yet the S-AWC kept it feeling secure in even the harshest of downpours.

The lack of oomph doesn’t translate into savings at the pump, either. The Eclipse Cross S-AWC posts 25 mpg (9.6 L/100 km) in the city, which matches the Seltos and Taos. Its highway figure is a disappointing 26 mpg however (8.9 L/100 km), whereas the competition will clear 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km). 

Who’s the competition?

The Eclipse Cross sits right between the sub-compact and compact crossover classes, and starts from $24,590 in front-drive form. Canadians will need to pony up $30,498 CAD, but AWD is standard there. The Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, and new Volkswagen Taos are all a few inches stubbier, while the CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 are a hair and a hand-width longer, respectively. Depending on your needs, that could make it Goldilocks levels of just-right.

Those that prize driving dynamics and premium-feeling interiors will gravitate towards the Mazdas. The RAV4 is the best-selling non-pickup on either side of the border, so it has massive appeal of its own. We prefer the Hybrid; the mid-level XLE lists from $31,270 ($37,810 CAD).

SEE ALSO: 2021 Kia Seltos EX Review: Where Do Its Priorities Lie?

Opting for an Eclipse Cross SEL S-AWC requires $32,990 (GT in Canada, $38,898 CAD) . The red paint is an additional $450 ($595 CAD). At that level, the Eclipse Cross is well clear of the top Seltos SX ($29,165 / $34,790 CAD), the closest competitor in terms of interior space and amenities. If it’s power you crave, the CX-30 Turbo starts from $31,225 ($38,800 CAD). You’ll give up some creature comforts for the dynamic edge however, and while Mazda’s numbers suggest the CX-30 is the more spacious people mover, the Eclipse has the edge in real-world feel.

Verdict: 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review

The 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is not a bad car. In many ways—its styling, its features list, its space—this is an appealing little option between sub-compact and compact. That’s before you factor in the traditional Mitsubishi warranty, too.

At an as-tested $32,885 ($39,348 CAD) though, the top-level Eclipse Cross is just too rich. If it were cheaper, the unrefined drivetrain would no longer offend. For my money, the lower trims are where the Eclipse Cross makes more sense, sacrificing few creature comforts for a more palatable purchase price. You might be spending less, but you’re still not skimping where it counts.

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