2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross review update: 8-bit in a 4k world

June 8, 2018

If you're old enough to remember when Mitsubishi built cars in the U.S., then the very idea of the 2018 Eclipse Cross might seem like heresy. Eclipses are Diamond-Stars, have hatchback bodies and turbo motors and...

Wait. The Eclipse Cross has all those things, it's just delivered a couple of feet higher in the air. So much for heresy.

A spin-off of the Outlander Sport crossover, with a sloped tail and updated body structure and power, the 2018 Eclipse Sport is a hash of old and new, served up until Mitsubishi, now controlled by Nissan, starts selling rebadged Leafs, Frontiers, and Rogues (and more, TBD).

MORE: Read our 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross review

The Eclipse Cross could do worse, for what it is. We gave it a score of 5.4 out of 10, slightly above our mean for new-car ratings. We said the Eclipse Cross wants to deliver crossover style on a budget, and that it works, but not without some compromise.

The compromises are worth vetting. I spent nearly 200 miles fuddling through vicious Atlanta traffic in the past week in the 2018 Eclipse Cross SE 1.5T S-AWC. Here's where it hit, and where it missed:

Hit: A gutsy turbo-4 engine. The 152-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbo-4 fitted to every Eclipse Cross is far from its biggest compromise. Peak torque arrives at a usefully low 1,500 rpm and sticks around until it sucks wind above 5,000 rpm.

Miss: The transmission. We'll leave the drivetrain issues squarely at the feet of its CVT. It quivers at the thought of any decision. More than a few times, a moderate foot on the gas sent revs down instead of up, as the CVT fumbled around for a good ratio to hold.

Hit: Lots of room for the money. The Eclipse Cross' seats and cargo bin deliver most of its value. The front chairs need more lumbar support, but head and leg room front and back are fine. The cargo floor isn't flat when the rear seat fold down, but not every crossover SUV needs to be a van in disguise.

Miss: A general lack of refinement. The engine doesn't sound strained, but the Eclipse Cross doesn't damp out much of its sound, or any other sound, for that matter. Tire noise drew a lot of attention. The touchpad infotainment system and lower-resolution screen feel like a third-rate gaming system, Odyssey versus Atari in Gen X speak.The awkward twin-pane rear glass brings up dreaded Aztek comparisons.

Miss: The name. Try as I might, I cannot get used to the way it steals the breath from a name that originally stood for scalding sport-coupe performance.

The Eclipse Cross puts a lot of content in the hands of buyers who can spend $28,000. Our test vehicle had Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, all-wheel drive, power features, blind-spot monitors, heated front seats, and a sliding second-row seat.

If you don't want to buy used, and want CR-V space at an HR-V price tag, the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross comes with a sterling new-car warranty, enough infotainment to beat down terrible commutes, and a truly useful amount of people and cargo space–the ideal amount for crossovers that don't tow or school-pool.

What it can't do is alchemy. It takes some budget-bin parts and mixes them in an appealing way, but what it spins is far from gold.

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2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SE 1.5T S-AWC

Base price: $24,240

Price as tested: $27,915

Drivetrain: 1.5-liter turbo-4, CVT, AWD

EPA fuel economy: 25/26/25 mpg

The hits: Lots of content for a price in the mid-$20,000s; ample interior space; 

The misses: A general lack of refinement, awful CVT tuning, weirdly composed rear end, 8-bit infotainment in a 4K world.

2018
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