It has been many years since Canadian Mitsubishi dealers had the sporty Eclipse coupe and convertible in their showrooms. And with no known plans to return those models to production, the automaker has gone ahead and restored the Eclipse name, attaching it to its latest tall wagon and added the word “Cross,” as in a sedan-based crossover.
Appropriately named or not, Mitsubishi made the right call creating the Eclipse Cross. The five-passenger compact utility vehicle fills a gap between the RVR and the larger Outlander.
Although the Eclipse Cross was new for 2018, the basic structure was adapted from its larger and smaller siblings. The distance between the front and rear wheels is identical for all three, although the Eclipse Cross is 10 centimetres longer than the RVR and about 30 centimetres shorter than the Outlander.
The Eclipse Cross also resembles the RVR in many ways other than having a flashier front end that appears Lexus-inspired. At the opposite end, an oddly positioned light bar that extends between the tail lamps appears to split the liftgate’s glass nearly in half. Drivers following after dusk will be treated to a unique LED show (especially when the Eclipse Cross’s brakes are applied), but during the day the quasi-spoiler is less visually appealing.
Ultimately, the Eclipse Cross won’t suffer from stylistic anonymity, but its sloping fastback shape reduces stowage capacity behind the rear seat and provides less volume than the RVR.
The good news is that the interior is spot-on with the times. A finger-operated track pad on the centre console controls the communications and audio functions, which are displayed on a seven-inch tablet-style touch-screen. Other buttons fall readily to hand on the steering wheel.
The trim on the dashboard, door panels and floor console have that satin-nickel look that nicely contrasts with darker dash top and seats, while the optional folding head-up screen shows pertinent information such as vehicle speed and active-safety-technology status. The standard split-folding rear seat can be adjusted fore and aft by up to 20 centimetres and reclines through nine positions.
The Eclipse Cross’ turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine puts out 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. That’s plenty to move the Mitsu smartly along, but it’s modest when compared to the available output generated by some competitors.
The engine is backed by a continuously variable transmission with eight built-in ratios simulating a traditional automatic.
Fuel consumption is rated at 9.6 l/100 km in the city, 8.9 on the highway and 9.3 combined.
Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control comes standard with all trim levels. It can direct a precise amount of torque to each wheel and also apply braking to the inside rear wheel during a turn, which is one variation of torque vectoring or yaw control. Traction settings include AUTO, SNOW and GRAVEL.
The base Eclipse Cross ES sells for $30,300, including destination charges, which is about $2,800 more than an RVR AWD, but $1,700 less than the larger Outlander AWD. That sum gets you a reasonably equipped machine with climate control, heated outside mirrors and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The SE has 18-inch wheels and an upgraded audio system, while the Limited Edition gets heated and power-operated front and rear seats and blacked-out trim.
The GT S has leather seat covers, multi-view rear-view camera, dual-pane panorama sunroof, premium Rockford-Fosgate-brand sound system and dynamic safety technologies such as emergency braking.
With the high demand for utility vehicles of all stripes, Mitsubishi appears to be in a strong position to capitalize on the trend with a trio of such models, and especially the up-to-date Eclipse Cross.
Going forward, it will also be interesting to see what influences and advancements result from Nissan’s ownership of the brand and its alliance with Renault.
What you should know: 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Type: All-wheel-drive compact utility vehicle
Engine (h.p.): 1.5-litre DOHC I-4, turbocharged (152)
Transmission: Continuously variable
Market position: The addition of the five-passenger Eclipse Cross to Mitsubishi’s lineup gives the brand a stronger position in the competitive compact-utility bracket. Nissan now owns Mitsubishi, so additional new models from the brand are likely in the pipeline.
Points: Overall styling is attractive, despite controversial liftgate-mounted light bar. • Interior appointments are high tech in style and content. • New turbocharged engine is torque-rich, but could still use more power. • Mitsubishi’s AWD system is considered one of the best. • Rear-seat passengers are treated to a comfortable environment.
Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (opt.); lane departure warning (opt.)
L/100 km (city/hwy) 9.6/8.9; Base price (incl. destination) $30,300
Nissan Qashqai AWD
Base price: $27,500
The Rogue’s smaller sibling has a modest non-turbo engine and optional AWD.
Mazda CX-3 AWD
Base price: $27,400
A bit tight for space, but its overall sporty nature makes it a fun-to-drive package.
Base price: $25,300
Flashy styling, but you’ll have to move up to the RAV4 if you want AWD.
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-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media