What’s in a name?
Well, if you’re Mitsubishi, that’s a good question. Until recently, the company has kind of languished in the market place, with fewer dealers and a small line-up of vehicles. All of that changed recently with the purchase of Mitsu by Nissan.
Deep pockets, advanced engineering, and massive resources mean good things ahead for the brand.
There are a couple names that do stand out, Evo – the high-performance rally-bred four-door sedan that’s a legendary giant-killer in performance circles. No longer in production. And then there’s Eclipse, an equally legendary front wheel and all-wheel drive sport coupe of the early 90’s. Another giant killer, and also no more.
Now we have the new Eclipse Cross. A modern sport coupe to take on the world? Uh, no. But a very nice small SUV/Crossover worthy of your attention.
Ready to pounce on traffic?
First impression of the new Eclipse Cross is a sporty and fresh take on the crossover. Mitsu says the inspiration for its design is that of a runner in the “Get Set” position – crouched down in their lane, a coiled ball of energy ready to go. Cool.
At the front is the brand’s Dynamic Shield (sounds like a Marvel Superhero!) design concept – which the brand says emphasizes the front end's functionalities aimed at protecting both people and the car itself. We like the slender LED driving lights and the chrome outline of the grille looks like pincers ready to chomp on unsuspecting prey.
On the side, it has a coupe-like cut, reminding us of BMW’s X4 – very sporty, while around back the sharply angled rear window is split into two pieces of glass – like Honda’s old CRX. From the outside, you might think the split would block rearward visibility, but it’s quite good. In fact, the break between the two seem perfect at blocking the intrusive headlights of SUV’s behind you in traffic.
Our tester was bright and cheerful in a new Red Diamond color, and sitting on 18-inch two-tone alloys, our Eclipse really stood out from the crowd.
Familiarity breeds Content
At first glance, we weren’t sold on the Eclipse Cross’ interior. The design felt like much of the switchgear was thrown around in a random way, and the touchpad controller looked like someone left their remote perched on the console. But, we realized that like most automakers, Mitsu has their own way of setting things up, and since it’s been awhile since we’ve been in one, it was more of getting to know their way.
Once we did, we found it easy to use, with the coupe-like center console giving a sporty vibe, and piano black and luminous silver accents looking modern and upscale. We even found the touchpad controller easy to use – something Lexus continues to struggle with. Even though it gives off a sports-vibe, the Eclipse sits tall with exceptionally comfortable seats. No lumbar adjustment, be we never missed it.
We did miss a volume control knob, but other than that, the infotainment works beautifully, with an easy to read 7-inch monitor, and connectivity including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and voice recognition through Google Assistant or Siri.
Also serving up info is a full-color Head-Up display. It feels a little old school with a plastic panel that pops up from the top of the dash to be displayed on – most modern HUD’s are projected on the windshield – but it works well, providing speed, cruise control settings, Forward Collision and Lane Departure warnings.
Speaking of visibility, the dual-pane panoramic sunroof floods the cabin with light – it’s a nice space to spend time.
There are no bad seats in the house, while the front buckets are super-supportive, the rear seats are impressively spacious for the class, with nine reclining positions, and 8-inches of forward/backward adjustment. On our tester, heated too.
The tight coupe-like proportions do take away from the rear cargo area, which is a bit smaller than competitors. If hauling stuff is more important than passengers to you, give it a little extra scrutiny.
Fast and Furious?
With a name like Eclipse, there will be expectations of hot performance. And with a turbo 4-cylinder, and advanced Super All Wheel Control all-wheel drive, even more so.
Under the hood is a new 1.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder that pumps out a reasonable 152 hp, and impressive 184 lb.-ft. of torque at just 2,000 rpm. It’s a smooth powerplant, and the turbo is beautifully integrated across the rpm range – it feels like a larger, naturally-aspirated engine. It’s connected to a very crisp CVT transmission that does a fine job of imitating an 8-speed automatic.
Maybe a larger engine would have been good – the Eclipse Cross, especially our loaded SEL model, is no lightweight, and you really have to lean on the engine to keep things on the boil. And leaning on a turbo eats up gas. In our case, averaging around 26 mpg. Good, but not great. The smaller engine really pays dividends on the freeway, where staying out of turbo zone really stretched the mpg’s.
You’ll be getting great grip with the Eclipse, thanks to its advanced Super All-Wheel Control AWD system. Not only grippy in the slippery stuff, the system also enhances straight-line stability and cornering. We had some extremely windy weather during our test time, and the little Mitsu tracked straight and true, shrugging off the weather with ease. It also makes the Eclipse fun to toss around, and treat it like the sporty crossover it intends to be.
We were also impressed with the ride quality and overall quiet cabin. The ride is supple and well controlled, and everything feels beautifully put together. This is an easy cruiser for the daily commutes, or long weekend ski trips.
Adding to the comfort and confidence is an array of state of the art safety, including Blind Spot Warning, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control System, Multi-View Camera and Automatic High Beam.
Will it Eclipse my budget?
Like most competitors, the Eclipse Cross comes in a variety of trims. The entry-level ES 1.5T starts at $23,595, You get the 1.5 turbo engine, CVT transmission, 7-inch touch panel display, rear view camera, Bluetooth, auto climate control, and LED running lights. Strong value – the only thing missing is the advanced AWC system. For that, you step up to the ES 1.5T S-AWC for a reasonable $24,195.
At the top of the line is our tester, an SEL 1.5T S-AWC, starting at $28,195. You get plenty of goods at the price, including a 7-inch Smartphone Link Thin-Display Audio System with touchpad, protective safety technologies, a 360-degree Multi-view camera system, 24 months of Mitsubishi Connect Telematics with Safeguard and Remote, Leather seats and LED headlights.
Our vehicle also had the Red Diamond paint ($595) and the optional Touring Package ($2,500) including a power panoramic sunroof, 710 watt, 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate Audio system, Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise and Automatic high beam.
The package also brings added niceties like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, auto dimming rearview mirror and roof rails. Add in an accessory tonneau cover, floor mats, and $995 Destination fee, and our maxxed out tester rang in at $32,160.
For comparison, a loaded CR-V Touring AWD CVT comes in at $34,195, and a 2019 RAV4 Limited at a gulp-worthy $37,100. So the Eclipse Cross is an excellent value price-wise in this segment.
The 2019 Eclipse Cross is fun, visually-exciting, and value-packed.
It gives everything you need, but still stands apart from the pack. Mitsubishi is back – and its future looks great.