Home Automobiles Steve Kicks The Tires On The Eclipse Cross – He Has Questions

Steve Kicks The Tires On The Eclipse Cross – He Has Questions

Eclipse cross

Speculation over Mitsubishi’s U.S. demise appears to have been premature. Now that Nissan has swooped in to save the day there’s desperately needed new product on the way and this all-new SUV kicks things off: this is the Outlander Sport replacement known as the Eclipse Cross.

What is Mitsubishi? A brand that got out of the car business at the right time. With their trifecta of SUVs comprising 75% of total sales and the recent tie-up with Nissan starting to pay dividends, Mitsu’s future suddenly looks rosier.

The new Eclipse Cross jumps into the RAV4, CR-V, Rogue arena but with some interesting distinctions. In a number of ways it follows the segment formula in terms of its powertrain, footprint and pricing but the Eclipse Cross is a lot shorter, shrinking total cargo volume by 35% when compared to the Honda CR-V it otherwise emulates.  Now, if you value something a little smaller for easier parking the Eclipse Cross does have a shorter turning diameter, big ground clearance and a super helpful surround view camera with a smartly placed steering wheel button for activation when needed. But with the seats up, cargo room disparity grows even greater and thus is the Eclipse Cross’s greatest challenge.  A close second is its interesting fuel economy, rated at a tightly packed 25mpg city/26mpg highway – obviously catering to around the town use – with its 1.5-liter turbo producing a less than impressive 152 horsepower but a healthy 184 pound-feet of torque that moves this little guy along with respectable gusto.  But the big, fixed paddle shifters that were cool in the old Evo seem completely out of place here, lending little to the buzzy CVT experience.

I have no issues with the turbo/CVT combination here – it feels amply powered and the transmission is about as good as this type gets. But 25mpg is pretty weak and its ride and handling is somewhat curious.  It’s about as softly sprung as any vehicle I’ve driven in a long time and I like the supple floatiness to the ride – until you get to some rough pavement where the relaxed spring rates seem to be out of whack with the firm shock tuning causing some notable impact harshness.  But it’s the soft sidewalls of these Ecopia tires which are the biggest hindrance to having more fun on twisty roads. But the all-wheel drive system does a nice job of keeping it tucked in in the turns and the steering is very direct. The brakes are less than reassuring though so driving this like you would have your old Eclipse is not going to produce the same level of excitement.

Now, the less expensive Outlander Sport is still available side by side with this for the time being, but it’s being redesigned into a smaller CUV to allow the Eclipse Cross some breathing room between it and the bigger Outlander. But with a starting price of $24,625 it’s only $315 less than an Outlander…that’ll give you something to consider.

This fully loaded Eclipse Cross SEL with Mitsu’s advanced torque vectoring and off-road worthy all-wheel drive system stickers for $35,260. A CR-V Touring is about the same price.  But Mitsu hasn’t skimped on features here including stand out items like the head-up display and heated rear seats.  All of the latest safety features are included too including the new Mitsubishi Connect subscription service with access to emergency services, information and a host of remote control vehicle functions like climate control and parental controls.

The wraparound front seats are outstanding for long trip comfort and this loaded SEL trim has certainly got the goods…quite the impressive list of Mitsu. Keep in mind there is no embedded navi, no rear USB ports, no power tailgate and worst of all – no volume knob.

Get used to using the steering wheel volume controls because this here is a reach. The touchpad offers an alternative way to get around this system but I found myself usually just going to the touchscreen.  It is CarPlay and Android compatible.  The Rockford Fosgate 9-speaker system with subwoofer produces commendable sound in the relatively quiet cabin.  And the slide and recline rear seats are generously sized and give passengers their own switch for the dual pane sunroof.

Give Mitsu kudos for the edgy design and exceptional, Mazda-like Red Diamond Paint. It’s a looker, but halogen fog lights, really?  Everything else is LED.