2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
April 1, 2018

The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a compact crossover that aims to bring high-class looks to a mass-market buyer. It works, but not without some compromise.

You’d be forgiven if you think an Eclipse from Mitsubishi shouldn’t look like this.

Only five years after it retired the name, the automaker is hoping the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross will bring back repeat buyers with short memories and short pockets.

Starting at a modest $24,240, the Eclipse Cross offers a crossover shoppers relatively good value with a seductive shape. It’s a compromise though: the Eclipse Cross offers somewhat limited rear head room, compromised outward vision, and some less-than-intuitive features.

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It earns a 5.0 on our overall scale before fuel economy and safety are factored in, which could slightly raise its overall score. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Eclipse Cross is based in part on the Outlander and Outlander Sport crossovers, but with styling wholly its own. It sports a sloped rear roofline that asks tall rear passengers to slump or lose their heads, and a rising window line that trades vision for style.

Inside, the Eclipse Cross can’t be as daring—it has a low price to maintain.

Under the hood, a new 1.5-liter turbo-4 provides motivation, but it struggles to get out of its own way. A lackluster continuously variable transmission feels like it’s tied the engine’s arms back. We wonder what it would do with a conventional automatic.

A good ride is made better by competent steering, and the Eclipse Cross manages to feel sure-footed, albeit not very sporty.

Four will fit within the crossover’s confines, but not five. A sliding rear bench opens up more than the nominal 22 cubic feet of cargo space, but also shows the Eclipse Cross’s shortcomings in packaging—an awkward rear shelf makes for a small dead space behind the rear bench and limits a flat-floor throughout.

The Eclipse Cross packs in more features than many in its price range, but a strange touchscreen-touchpad duo highlights the crossover’s inherent conflict. The features are helpful, but not substantially intuitive and have limited usefulness.

5

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Styling

The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has a handsome shape, somewhat spoiled by busy styling and a boring interior.

The Eclipse Cross borrows a thin thread from Mitsubishi’s history of coupes, asking buyers to consider the crossover’s roofline to be an element taken from the iconic coupe of the 1990s.

We’re not as convinced, but say the profile is worth a point above average. The interior doesn’t have us similarly impressed, so we land at a 5 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

From the outside, the Eclipse Cross wears a markedly different face than the rest of Mitsubishi’s crossovers. Although designers say it adopts the same “dynamic shield” styling language, we see a grille that No Limit records would have been proud of and a profile that other automakers could be envious of.

We’ve had these issues with Mitsubishi before: its lashings of chrome aren’t visually grounded in anything. In most configurations, the Eclipse Cross has styling elements using chrome that bound from top to bottom, or side to side, without anchors.

It all looks a bit confused by our eye, but the Eclipse Cross’s shape doesn’t need unnecessary ornamentation. It’s a high-brow design with a sloping roofline that cuts deep into crossovers that look boring and stodgy by comparison.

Around back, the hatchback completes the Eclipse Cross’s mission, although it can’t do it without bisecting the rear glass that eats into outward vision.

Inside, the Eclipse Cross isn’t as daring, with large expanses of cheap plastics and a mish-mash of tech and cost-cutting materials. The high-cost SEL trim levels we drove had decent leather surfaces, but those were unbroken by high-contrast stitching or visual cues to brighten up the cabin.

A dual-pane sunroof offers to bring more light into the cabin, but eats deeply into available head space.

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5

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Performance

The Eclipse Cross doesn’t commit any sins, but the transmission struggles to get out of the way of its engine.

The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross features several “firsts” for the automaker, most notably its 1.5-liter turbo-4 engine that’ll appear in other models soon.

We like the engine, but similarly dislike the transmission it’s attached to. The steering is good, which brings it back to an average score of 5 out of 10 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The new 1.5-liter turbo-4 is a first for Mitsubishi, and offers the same low-end torque that rivals have offered without a fuel-economy hit. The engine makes 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque in the Eclipse Cross without breaking a sweat or cresting 5,000 rpm.

The torque is available low and long, from just 1,500 rpm, and brings the Eclipse Cross up to speed better than its low price may indicate. Running up to 60 mph still takes in the neighborhood of 10 seconds, so calling it quick isn’t entirely accurate—it’s lively.

We can’t say the same of its automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) that lacks ideas when the going gets urgent. The CVT hesitates at passing speeds, and while the turbo’s thrust helps conceal any lack of power from the engine, the transmission’s indecision offers the same decision anyhow—call it a wash.

Only moderate sound-deadening saves passengers from the CVT’s typical whine, but drivers’ right feet will know better.

The Eclipse Cross manages to get right its steering formula, which is appropriately quick without becoming jumpy. The electric power assist rack builds weight nicely (but strangely doesn’t unwind all that well) and transmits a solid feeling through the wheel.

The ride is similarly confident, without much body lean through corners and a planted feel throughout. Even on tall 18-inch wheels, the Eclipse Cross doesn’t crash through uneven pavement and road noise is kept at a minimum.

We’ve noticed a slightly stouter brake pedal that’s eager to engage the stoppers, however. It’s no Italian car, but the Eclipse Cross felt eager to grab the brakes early and required some acclimation. 

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2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Comfort & Quality

The Eclipse Cross will be comfortable for four adults, but not many more. Please.

A good idea without proper execution is still a good idea.

The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross brings to market a high-concept SUV without the high price tag. Its exterior looks are admirable, but its interior lacks the precision that this crossover’s wedge shape delivers.

Starting from an average score of 5, we deduct one point for lacking accommodations for five as advertised—it’s a four-seater for most adults. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Up front, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross boasts adequate thrones for front-seat passengers, although they’re not heavily bolstered. Most body types will fit up front, although some combinations of long legs and short arms will have difficulty with a limited telescoping steering wheel. The driver’s seat is available with power adjustment, although the passenger seat is a manual-only affair that can’t be raised or lowered at all.

In back, Mitsubishi offers a sliding second-row seat that can slip fore or aft up to 8 inches for more cargo capacity or better rear-seat room. The rear seatback reclines up to 16 degrees beyond its normal perch for more comfort, although it lacks padding found in some competitors.

The rear seat cushions lack padding and aren’t deeply scalloped in the outboard positions, which makes them less comfortable. When equipped with the optional dual-pane sunroof, tall rear-seat passengers may lack head room, which we noticed when our 6-foot-3 editor climbed aboard. Leg room shouldn’t be an issue for most passengers, but sliding up the second row for better cargo space reveals an awkward cargo shelf that begs for small items to get lost.    

The rear cargo floor is raised roughly four inches above the floor height and moving the rear seats forward for more room reveals the awkward crossover reef.

Behind the second row (placed in its most rearward position) more than 22 cubic feet of cargo space is available. Most of that space is vertically oriented—outward rear vision is already poor, made worse by the split rear window and doubled down by a sloping roofline. Dropping the rear seats down opens the space up to more than 48 cubic feet.

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2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Safety

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross doesn’t have official crash data yet, but only the priciest models will try to avoid crashes in the first place.

Neither federal nor independent testers have crashed a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

Because there’s no official crash data yet, we’re withholding our safety score. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Eclipse Cross shares a skeleton with the Outlander and Outlander Sport, despite being a new crossover for Mitsubishi. That may not bode well for federal testing regimen: the Outlander managed a four-star overall score in its latest result.

Nonetheless, the Eclipse Cross comes equipped with a standard complement of safety features including airbags for all occupants, traction and stability control systems, and a rearview camera.

Advanced safety features such as blind-spot monitors are available on SE-equipped models and higher, while the truly advanced stuff gets slumped into a top-tier option package on top-tier trims and that’s it.

Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control are relegated to models that cost $30,000 or more—something Mitsubishi’s competition has already streamlined to mass-market models. 

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2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Features

The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has the requisite features, but many are lacking substance to make them useful.

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is like eating frosting from the bowl. It layers on some impressive features—especially for its price—but they lack substance.

Good for our sweet tooth, but not great for features. Starting from an average of 5, we give points for good base features and an impressive touchscreen on all models. Unfortunately, Mitsubishi has saddled the Eclipse Cross with software that’s frustrating to use and a touchpad that’s even more frustrating. We give it a 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Eclipse Cross is offered in ES, LE, SE, and SEL trims with increasing levels of creature comforts. The ES trim level is base and it’s equipped with LED running lights and taillights, 16-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, automatic climate control, a rearview camera and a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment for $24,290, including destination, to start. All-wheel drive is optional only on ES versions and costs $600.

Stepping up to LE adds 18-inch wheels, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a touchpad controller (we’ll cover that below), and two USB ports.

The SE grade is likely to be the most common for shoppers and includes more chrome on the outside, better cloth on the inside, heated front seats, Mitsubishi’s telematics services, upgraded audio, electronic parking brake, and blind-spot monitors.

The SEL trim level is the top of the pile for now and boasts a power adjustable driver’s seat, paddle shifters, LED headlights, a surround-view camera system, head-up display, and more available comfort and safety features from an optional touring package that includes a premium stereo system from Rockford Fosgate, dual-pane sunroof, heated rear seats and steering wheel, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Like the infotainment system’s baffling exercise in touch-based redundancy, there are similarly questionable helpful features throughout the Eclipse Cross’s cabin. The touchscreen offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities, but lacks embedded navigation for those who lack reliable cellphone coverage to make both work. The head-up display projects information like speed onto a small pane near the instrument cluster, but lacks contrast in bright daylight to make it readable in some cases. The most notable: an available dual-pane sunroof deeply cuts into available head room for rear-seat passengers, and the rear sunshade is controlled by a separate switch placed in the middle of the roof that’s difficult for front-seat passengers to control when children are in the rear.

Audio and infotainment

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross offers a new look for Mitsubishi’s infotainment system, although somewhat familiar to the software available in the Outlander. The menu-driven system isn’t as intuitive as others on the market, but offers a high level of customizability for familiar users. The Eclipse Cross’s 7.0-inch touchscreen is tilted away from the driver, which makes it hard to use for drivers.

Unfortunately, the touchpad controller isn’t a remedy for that. Like the Lexus system that uses a similar approach, Mitsubishi’s touchpad system isn’t intuitive nor easy; it’s likely to draw eyes away from the road to navigate the confusing menus. There are multi-touch gestures to make common tasks more manageable, such as two fingers up or down for volume control—but those systems are hard to learn and finicky. We’d prefer that Mitsubishi cant the touchscreen toward the driver, then leave well enough alone.

By contrast, the touchscreen and menu system in the newly updated Outlander is far better by our experience. We’re willing to give them a mulligan.

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2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Fuel Economy

The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross manages around 25 mpg combined for most models.

The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is rated at 25 mpg city, 26 highway, 25 combined with all-wheel drive. That's good enough for a 7 out of 10 on our fuel-economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Eclipse Cross benefits from a relatively lightweight all-wheel-drive system that disconnects the rear axle for better fuel economy, and electronically engages them when the weather turns foul.

Opt for a front-drive Eclipse Cross and mileage gets incrementally better: 25/28/26 mpg.

ES models get their own rating: 25/28/26 mpg, regardless of driven wheels.

The Eclipse Cross may be compared to the Honda CR-V, which uses the same 1.5-liter turbo-4 and CVT combo to manage up to 30 mpg combined. The Eclipse Cross and CR-V weigh nearly the same—almost down to the pound—although the Mitsubishi is about five inches shorter.

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$23,295
MSRP based on ES FWD
 
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5.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety N/A
Features 6
Fuel Economy 7
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