It has been over a decade since we last seen the words Mitsubishi and Eclipse in the same sentence. To see them now glued to the back of a tailgate of what appears to be just another crossover has left old Eclipse enthusiasts in an uproar. However, seeing that the world has turned upside down, the buyers who once bought the two-door sport coupe in their youth are turning to the slightly high-riding family friendly mini-wagons with all-wheel drive, room for five and too many spots for food crumbs to hide.
The Mitsu Eclipse Cross is now the newest edition to the Mitsubishi line up. It fits into a peculiar place between the Outlander Sport and the three-row Outlander. With a starting price of $23,295, the Eclipse Cross is only a few hundred dollars cheaper than the larger Outlander. It also has an odd place in the market – its slightly bigger than the sub-compacts like the Honda HR-V, Nissan Kicks and Ford EcoSport, but also slightly smaller than the compact crossovers like the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson.
Luckily however, there is still a market for semi-sub-compact crossovers. But this is where things get more interesting. The Eclipse Cross falls similarly in line with the Subaru CrossTrek, Nissan Rogue Sport and Jeep Compass in terms of cabin space and performance. But the Nissan Rogue Sport and Subaru CrossTrek starts around $22,000 while the Jeep Compass is even more cheaper starting around $21,000.
On the bright side, Mitsubishi has some interesting design cues going for the new Eclipse Cross – we find it attractive, like what the Pontiac Aztek of the early 2000’s should have looked like. Its got sharp , polarizing angles and an aggressive look that fits this modern world. Our mid-grade SE was trendy featuring 18-inch wheels, LED daytime lights, LED taillights, and largely pronounced fog lights that completed is energetic persona.
All Eclipse Cross are found with one source of powertrain. With power coming from a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, its performance is right on par with its competitors having 152-horsepower. Off the line performance isn’t its strong suit either, taking over 9-seconds to 60 mph. However, connected to a CVT transmission, the Eclipse Cross isn’t trying to be this sporty crossover – it’s not trying to follow in the footsteps of its name sake. Instead, its source of power is content. It does the job at hand without being a sluggish mule. The turbo is decently on par with limited turbo-lag and the transmission carries a simulated 8-speed gearbox to help isolate its source of power.
With a short wheelbase, the Eclipse Cross rides fairly nicely. It carries that SUV stature that we like, it’s not overly soft like a sedan or too hard like a sports car. Its responsive enough without being too boring and it carries itself in a way that the driver feels comfortable from behind the wheel. Steering carries a firm balance in its motions too with a nice slight heft from the steering wheel. Enjoyment from the handling is going to be hard to find as there isn’t much of a connected feel or driver engagement.
If there is any Rally pedigree left in the Mitsubishi name, it’s the Super All-Wheel Control system that is virtually standard in the Eclipse Cross. All E.C.’s, except for the base, entry level ES comes standard with Mitsubishi’s S-AWC and with a push of button, the car can adjust between snow and sand traction control settings to get out of sticky situation.
Our variant of the Eclipse Cross was right in the middle of the pack when it comes to the available trim levels. The SE is one step below the top trimmed SEL that will provide more premium features like leather seats, panoramic sunroof, and the latest safety gizmos (all part of the $2500 Touring Package of course.) With our SE, the price starts $26,395 – a hefty price for most. With our fancy white paint and a few accessories our tester was pushing out the door nearly 28-grand. Ouch.
Inside, carries an array of nice premium equipment that the common consumer can appreciate. With a 7-inch touch screen display that incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, touch pad control, leather steering wheel, and dual-zone climate control – the Mitsu Eclipse Cross is relatively a nice place to be. Our cloth interior provided a subtle pleasant atmosphere with a decorative pattern – while white isn’t ideal in any family vehicle, it’s a nice touch making it a bright airy cabin. The seats provided a decent amount of comfort and support with a power adjustable driver seat. Rear passenger found relatively decent leg room and headroom without much to complain about and while cargo is a little smaller than its competitors, its not like a trip to IKEA won’t be a lost cause.
On the open road, the E.C. is a quiet ride. It carries a nice isolating cabin and with speeds upwards to 80 mph, it managed to keep most of the wind and road noise out. Unfortunately, we found ourselves getting out a little to often than some. With a small fuel tank, and an average of 21 mpg after our highway loop, we found ourselves having to fuel up every 250 miles.
While this last decade hasn’t exactly been too kind to Mitsubishi, it’s a brand we’re happy to see still fighting to stay alive. The Eclipse Cross, while a bit odd, carries all the right ingredients to make a consumer happy with their purchase. And considering Mitsubishi will be anxious to move some of them off their lots, one could probably be found for one heck of deal.