By Brandy A. Schaffels
As today's new car shoppers leave their compact coupes and sedans behind in favor of functional and practical crossover utility vehicles, manufacturers are expanding their offerings to attract this growing audience.
Mitsubishi joins the growing crossover utility fray this year with its brand-new Eclipse Cross, which joins the Outlander and Outlander Sport to form a formidable CUV trio for the company. Promising to be a fusion of sharp coupe looks and dynamic SUV mobility with signature Mitsubishi styling, technology, and driving confidence, the Eclipse Cross will be available in four models -- the base ES, LE, SE, and SEL -- with a starting MSRP of $23,295 and an upper-end price of $30,395 for an SEL with Touring package (not including a $940 destination charge). Mitsubishi offers an all-wheel-drive system it calls Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) standard on most trim levels except the base ES, but S-AWC — with driver-selectable Auto, Snow, and Gravel modes — can even be added there for $600.
Standard features for the ES trim include 16-inch wheels, foglights, LED running lights and rear combination taillights, Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel audio and phone controls, automatic climate control, color multi-information 7.0-inch touchscreen, rearview camera, a USB port, and anti-theft alarm. The LE trim adds black 18-inch wheels, SiriusXM radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, dual USB ports, and unique black color exterior accents. The SE trim adds keyless entry with pushbutton start, heated front seats, standard blind-spot warning, lane keeping assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. LED headlights, leather-appointed seating, a full-color head-up display, and a multiview camera system are standard on the SEL trim. The smartphone link display can also be controlled with a touchpad controller, which allows for tap/swipe operation and ease of use while driving. A touring package available on the SEL trim includes a dual-pane power-sliding panoramic sunroof, 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system, advanced safety technology (forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams), and heated steering wheel and rear seats.
Mitsubishi took advantage of the August 2017 solar eclipse to launch its new crossover, bringing social influencers from 10 different countries to just outside of Salem, Oregon, to share the unique experience with their followers while the company filmed its new CUV under the fading light of the total solar eclipse. We experienced our own test drive under December skies dimmed by a thick blanket of smoke that blew all the way down to Santa Monica from the fires raging in Santa Barbara.
The 2018 Eclipse Cross comes standard with a 1.5-liter direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder engine promising 152 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 184 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm. According to Mitsubishi, sodium-filled exhaust valves maximize performance and efficiency while creating more torque than 2.0L and 2.4L engines in other Mitsubishi products. Mated to a CVT with eight simulated shiftpoints, the Eclipse Cross exhibited nimble performance with quick acceleration for around-town daily driving, with excellent body control. Its well-honed suspension performed well as we drove the curves and undulations on Malibu's mountain roads with relative ease. Fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined for the FWD SE, or 25/26/25 for the AWD SEL. Stopping is via 11.6-inch ventilated discs up front, with 11.9-inch solid discs in the back.
With coupe-like styling in a CUV package, the Eclipse Cross is a sportier-looking, fun-to-drive alternative to its Outlander siblings thanks to its dramatic wedgy profile, distinctive beltline and strong character line, angular rear gate and short overhang, and beefy fenders projecting the image of a powerful athlete. Its forward-raked rear window is actually a liftgate with two separate glass parts, allowing a sporty sloped roofline without impinging on back-seat practicality or rear visibiity. Faux carbon fiber trim adds an interesting exterior touch.
The cockpit-style interior wraps around the driver for a sporty feel; high-grade soft-touch materials and piano-black and luminous silver interior accents are an improvement over the less-than-luxurious interiors some might remember from past Mitsubishi models. The five-seater features a sliding rear bench that opens up more than 22 cubic feet of cargo space behind it or 48.9 cu.-ft. when folded down; there's enough headroom for adults in the rear, but seating three adults across might be a bit snug.
The Eclipse Cross also debuts Mitsubishi Connect, which features automatic collision notification, emergency services, and alarm notification, among other things. The Remote Services package can remotely start the crossover, adjust the climate settings, lock the doors, honk the horn, turn on the lights, find your car in a parking lot, and also offers teen-driver monitoring. Standard on the SE and SEL trims, the service is free for two years and will cost $99 a year after that.
Mitsubishi recently joined the Renault-Nissan alliance, boosting the resulting group to the world’s number three producer in terms of cars sold. As the best model in their lineup, Mitsubishi is counting on the Eclipse Cross to lead the brand in sales.
2018 MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS AWD SEL TOURING
VEHICLE TYPE 5-passenger FWD/AWD CUV
BASE PRICE $23,295 (as tested: t/k)
ENGINE TYPE 16-valve DOHC direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder
HORSEPOWER (net) 152 at 5,500 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.) 184 at 2,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION CVT with eight computer-controlled shift points
OVERALL LENGTH 106.4 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 35.0 ft.
CURB WEIGHT 3,307 lbs. (FWD)/ 3,516 lbs. (AWD)
FUEL CAPACITY 16.6 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING 25 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, 25 combined