The latest model from Mitsubishi is a new crossover that’s named, in part, after a popular Mitsubishi sports car from days gone by.
It’s now arrived on dealer lots, targeting the heart of the explosively popular crossover scene.
This one’s tough to place: Eclipse Cross is (presumably intentionally) sized and priced in a sort of grey zone between smaller and larger crossover models.
It’s bigger than an RVR (or HR-V, or CX-3), but smaller than machines like a Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
It offers Mitsubishi’s super all-wheel control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive (AWD) system as standard on all models, at a starting price that’s (definitely intentionally) within just a few bucks of a front-wheel-drive RAV4 or CR-V.
So if you’re OK with giving up a little size in exchange for AWD at the same price, the Eclipse Cross is a viable option.
The Eclipse Cross’s AWD system is part of a driveline which stacks up as this machine’s most valuable asset.
There’s a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo that’s good for 152 horsepower and an impressive (competitor-smashing) 184 pounds of torque. The little engine performs better than the numbers say, works beautifully with the standard continually variable transmission, and turns in refined operation on a world-class level.
The Eclipse Cross is moved by a 152-horsepower, 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-powered engine. (JUSTIN PRITCHARD)
Generous low-end torque means few revs are required to get things moving and, with no gears to shift, power is delivered on a smooth and seamless wave. Even pushed, the engine never sounds unpleasant or breaks its composure.
With smooth performance and noise levels kept nicely in check on smooth roads, Eclipse Cross is a comfy cruiser, and one you’ll want to use the cruise control with, as it can sneak well past the speed limit on the sly if you’re not careful.
Mitsubishi’s latest design cues and signature touches are all flaunted in full. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the look is anything less than distinctive.
The split rear window (a la Toyota Prius or Pontiac Aztek) is nobody’s favourite styling element, but it does enhance visibility out the rear and enables higher cargo volume.
There’s familiarity aplenty for those coming to Eclipse Cross from other modern Mitsubishi models, with familiar colours, trim, interfaces and controls. The interior is trimmed using plenty of stitching and contrast to dial up sophistication, and most of the right materials are in most of the right places.
The display touch screen can be controlled by a console-mounted track-pad system that first appeared in various Lexus models a few years back.
There’s a bit of a learning curve and the graphics are looking fairly dated, but once you’ve got the swing of things, hundreds of infotainment functions can be manipulated with just a few millimetres of fingertip movement. There’s no volume knob, though — only touch buttons — which is somewhat inconvenient.
I noted no issues with entry or exit, and front and rear seats are boarded with a simple lateral slide and slight downward plop for those of about average proportions. Decent rear-seat head and leg room are available for rear seat passengers, and it’s much the same up front.
Note that my tester had no sunroof, bumping available headroom. Further, most will appreciate easy access to numerous storage cubbies and charge points to keep organized and juiced up on the go.
The cargo hold is flexible, relatively generous, wide, easy to load, and it even includes handy bins in the rear outer corners to help keep smaller items, including washer fluid jugs, secure.
The suspension is soft, lenient and sturdy, provided you’re driving on a fairly smooth road. Unlike some of the best-riding crossovers in this segment (Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-HR), rougher roads knock ride quality back a few notches further than expected at times.
It’s a comfy long-distance highway cruiser but I’d recommend focusing your Eclipse Cross test drive on the roughest roads available, to confirm comfort levels.
The tester included radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring and a lane departure warning system — each of which performed as well as some of the best I’ve ever used. At night, headlight performance is about average within the segment.
Gripes? A good tug is required to close the tailgate with authority, and at times the steering feels a little too quick for the softness of the suspension — meaning you may feel like you’ve startled the machine when dialling in a steering input at higher speeds.
Eclipse Cross falls a touch short on the ride and steering side of the equation, but compensates with what’s arguably the segment’s most refined powertrain, good overall value, a nicely-executed interior and Mitsubishi’s 10-year warranty.
Cross-shop against the Toyota C-HR, Subaru Crosstrek, Jeep Compass and Nissan Qashqai.
It’s always nice to have choices.