First Drive: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (Review)

Mitsubishi introduces an all-new crossover, the Eclipse Cross.

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

Dufferin County, Ontario

I spent a couple of days with Mitsubishi to check out their new 5-passenger crossover, the Eclipse Cross. The Mitsubishi team tells us that their company has just ended their 2017 fiscal year and that SUV/crossover sales were up 78% year-over-year in March. Their focus moving forward is on their S-AWC all-wheel drive system and technology and they are officially positioning themselves as an SUV/crossover-focused company. They assure us that great things are coming out of the Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi alliance, which is the world’s largest automotive group.

 

Exterior

There is no doubt that Mitsubishi is taking a new approach when it comes to the Eclipse Cross’ styling. They are going with the “Bold & Spirited” tagline. It is certainly a real departure from the somewhat staid exteriors we’re used to and it reflects the new direction the company’s styling will take, as this is the new generation of their Dynamic Shield design language.

The creased and angular lines are more aggressive and bold than we’re used to from Mitsubishi – check out that extraordinary character line on the side. There is a pronounced wedge profile and along with its distinctive belt line, it makes quite an impression. Adding to the drama is the sharply raked and split rear window, which integrates the light bar. All trim levels come with nice 18-inch rims, foglight and a rear spoiler and the GT trim adds LED headlights.

 

Interior/Tech/Convenience

The departure from the norm continues inside. It is certainly more modern-feeling and works nicely. They’ve taken a more curved approach than before and the sculpting adds a level of interest. Materials are decent, with plenty of soft-touch plastics where your hands will fall. The visuals of the silver accents and piano black trim work well together.

The standard-heated seats were comfortable and nicely bolstered – the driver’s seat is power-adjustable in the GT trim.

Mitsubishi makes a big deal about the standard touchpad controller, which you use to navigate the functions and controls of the 7-inch touchscreen. It uses a combination of one- and two-finger flicks and taps in conjunction with a few hard buttons to achieve most things. There are also virtual buttons on the screen and major functions like volume control have additional controls on the steering wheel. Overall, the system integrates very nicely with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – the navigation using a connected iPhone was outstanding. Of note, the touchpad controller does not work with Android Auto, which is a limitation of Android rather than the touchpad system. I would really love the addition (or return) of a volume knob though.

The top GT trim adds a heated steering wheel, leather seating, heated rear seats, a premium Rockford Fosgate audio system, a panoramic sunroof and a heads-up display (HUD) which shows the driver a whack of information beyond the normally-expected speedometer, with a particular focus on the driver assistance technology. The driver can’t change the content on the HUD.

Speaking of driver assistance tech, there’s quite a bit of that available on the Eclipse Cross, increasing as you move up the trim levels. The ES comes with a rear-view camera. Step up the SE and you’ll add blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. The SE’s Tech Package adds forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. At the top of the heap, the GT includes a 360-degree camera.

A minor nitpick – I wish a brand-new model would do away with 12V plugs (who on earth uses those anymore?) and would include wireless charging, at least in higher trims.

 

Rear Seats

The rear seating offers plenty of headroom and leg room. Surprisingly, the seats slide fore and aft, and recline – that’s a nice touch of flexibility in this class. The seats felt comfortable and there’s a 12V plug for charging devices.

The back seats get heated in the GT trim.

 

Storage

I liked the open space under the centre stack, which includes 2 USBs and one 12V plug. Under the armrest lid is a decent storage bin as well.

The 640L trunk feels quite generous and comes with a retractable cargo cover. Although the wheel wells intrude, they don’t appear to significantly reduce the usefulness of the space. If you want to boost the trunk space considerably, the rear seats fold in a 60/40 split to give you 1,385L. The GT trim drops by a few litres of space due to the subwoofer in the trunk, but the difference is negligible.

 

Under the Hood

All Eclipse Crosses come with the same drivetrain. It features an all-new 1.5L turbo 4-cylinder that puts out 152 HP at 5,500 RPM and 184 lb.ft of torque at a low 2,000 RPM. They use a CVT transmission and all-wheel drive (S-AWC) is standard.

Mitsubishi estimates the fuel economy at 9.6/8.9/9.3 for the city/highway/combined cycles.

 

The Drive

I was happy with the overall performance from the engine. It is sprightly enough from a stop, and has enough jam when you’re on the go to be satisfying. It’s not a particularly powerful vehicle, but neither are its direct competitors and let’s be honest – most buyers in this category aren’t looking for a green-light rocket launch.

The CVT is a good one, as CVTs go. Yes, it still sends the revs soaring when you step on it, but it settles down quickly and makes for a relaxed driving experience. You can shift “gears” through pre-programmed ratios using the gear selectors manual mode and the paddle shifters in the SE and GT trims.

When it comes to the suspension, I was pretty impressed. The ride was good – firm, but well-controlled and it did a great job in urban and highway situations. It was also quiet when it came to road and wind noise. Handling felt relatively secure in most situations too, although the steering is a bit too numb to be considered sporty. The Eclipse Cross feels quite tall on the road.

The S-AWC uses a brake-controlled active yaw control system instead of an active front differential to vector torque from side to side. Mitsubishi says this allows it to react more quickly. We spent quite a bit of time on wind-blown wet and sometimes snowy roads, and for the most part, the S-AWC did a fine job in putting the power where it was needed to get us safely from point A to point B. You can select between 3 modes – Auto, Snow or Gravel.

Speaking of wind, there were gusts of up to 90 km/h during our drive and I found the Eclipse Cross to be susceptible to those crosswinds, although that’s not a knock against it, as most vehicles would be the same.

 

Final Thoughts

So who is the Eclipse Cross competing with? Mitsubishi says the Hyundai Tucson, the Kia Sportage and the Mazda CX-5 are the closest competitors. And who will be buying the Eclipse Cross? Mitsubishi expects it to be folks that are likely married and often don’t have children at home. Their focus is on millennials and Gen-Xers. They think buyers will be people who place emphasis on vehicle styling/appearance, efficiency and driving dynamics. The Eclipse Cross will appeal less to the outdoorsy type as well as those who are regularly transporting children – these are Mitsubishi’s words, and result from intense focus group work. One of the most interesting statements was that the Eclipse Cross was appealing to those who did not find Mitsu’s Outlander and RVR appealing. So this is likely to bring a different kind of buyer to look at Mitsubishis.

I think the Eclipse Cross does a nice job at bringing fresh new styling (inside and out) into Mitsubishi’s showrooms. The engine is competitive and should be efficient (I didn’t watch our mileage during this event) and pairs well with the CVT. It offers the technology, safety, flexibility and utility to be competitive, and the standard all-wheel drive is a great feature. The 5-year/100,000km warranty definitely adds some peace of mind.

Mitsubishi’s pricing slots the Eclipse Cross between the RVR and the Outlander, with about $1,000 separating the base trims of the three. And hey, if you’re one of those early adopters, you can snag one of the 100 Diamond Edition Eclipse Crosses, which add some awesome-looking aesthetics to the GT trim – black rims and a special body kit (which includes front and rear bumper garnishes, corner extensions and side sills with a red pinstripe) and includes the stunning 5-coat Red Diamond paint colour.

 

Pricing

TrimPrice
ES (base)$27,798
SE$29,998
SE with Tech Package$31,998
GT$35,998

Disclosure: Mitsubishi Canada paid for my airfare, accommodations, meals and fuel and provided the vehicles for this test drive event.

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