Not sure which crossover utility vehicle is right for you or your family? Well, while you have been sitting there, the field has gotten even more crowded. Welcome to the fold the all-new Eclipse Cross from Mitsubishi, that squeezes into the triple-diamond showroom bookended by a duo of Outlanders.
Mitsubishi has resurrected a name from its past in the form of Eclipse, but this new model is no coupe or convertible with a lift kit. The new Eclipse Cross is said to feature “coupe-like” styling but honestly has no resemblance whatsoever with the Eclipse that was so popular a couple of decades ago in these showrooms. Mitsubishi did seek to resurrect the fun-to-drive attitude with this new model and loaded it with the latest new technology the automaker offers.
The new Eclipse Cross features the most dynamic styling yet in the modern Mitsubishi showroom and is quite distinctive from the sides and rear. At times I was reminded of a couple other models when viewing the split windows of the rear hatch, one of which was the much-maligned Pontiac Aztek, but Mitsubishi makes it work. Inside we find comfortable seating for up to five in two rows, and under the hood is a peppy little turbocharged engine. This new model is offered in front- and all-wheel drive models (the latter a la Super All-Wheel Control with selectable drive modes).
Let’s talk about the powertrain and running gear for a moment. Mitsubishi is offering only one engine and transmission setup in the Eclipse Cross (for now), but in our week behind the wheel we found that it worked quite well. A direct-injected, turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline engine provides the 152hp and 184 lb. ft. of torque needed to make the Eclipse Cross go. and it does so with a good bit of gusto off the line. This is no rally vehicle and does not pretend to be but the powertrain performs more than adequately. A CVT gearbox is mated to the engine (the growing trend these days) but it does offer a sport mode that simulates gear shifts for those not completely sold on a continuous drove as the vehicle gains speed. The S-AWC all-wheel drive system does a great job keeping the vehicle headed where it needs to go in all types driving conditions while not pretending to be a serious off-roader. Think of the new Eclipse Cross as your foul- and fair-weather-driving friend.
There is a host of new safety technology offered in the Eclipse Cross, some of which we have seen in the newest Outlander utility models. These include blind spot warning and lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control system, multi-view camera system, and automatic high beam. Mitsubishi also offers active stability control, traction control logic, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring system, and electric park brake with auto hold. Fortunately, we rarely ever had to test the majority of these safety systems, but the peace of mind afforded just knowing they were there delivered a more pleasurable driving experience.
Inside, Mitsubishi has given its new cute ute a more driver-oriented cockpit with all of the important controls within easy reach. Atop the center stack resides a 7-inch color touchscreen display. Drivers also benefit from a new full color heads-up display that delivers real-time driving information. All of the basic creature comforts are here including digital HD radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, touchpad controller, and redundant steering wheel-mounted controls. Trim levels offered include ES, LE, SE, and SEL with our tester arriving in SE S-AWC packaging. Mitsubishi Connect is a new subscription-based telematics service that is debuting on the Eclipse Cross. It offers a host of connected services including automatic collision notification, SOS emergency assistance, driver information assistance, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle assistance, alarm notification, mileage tracker, and remote services for locks, climate control, lights, horn, car finder, vehicle settings, and parental controls.
Pricing for the new 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross begins at $23,295. Our tester came rolling in with a final window sticker of $28,310 – not bad for a turbocharged compact crossover with all-wheel drive. Fuel economy is rated for 25 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
Driving the new Eclipse Cross, we found the little turbo motor to exhibit very good acceleration while not overpromising on performance. We have tested other similar vehicles in this class recently and found the Mitsubishi to be very competitive. We did get to take a few corners and twisty roads with some enthusiasm and found the Eclipse Cross to handle quite well with little body roll. It was easy to drive, and it rode quite comfortably and quietly. Front and rear seating accommodation is ample and supportive, and the vehicle feels a bit larger than the footprint it occupies — and I mean that as a compliment.
The new Eclipse Cross fits just above the Outlander Sport in the Mitsubishi showroom, barely, but offers new styling and more spirited driving over its stablemates. There is a plug-in hybrid variant offered on the larger Outlander, and perhaps we will see some of that technology trickle down to the Eclipse Cross. I think that would really elevate the appeal of this new model while also bringing the necessary fuel economy improvement to make the badge more competitive. Mitsubishi Motors just finished celebrating 100 years in the automotive business; while they got down a few years ago, things are looking up for its consumer division. Let’s hope they can keep the momentum rolling!