2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review
Paul Horrell’s 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review with specs, ride and handling, performance, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Handy compact crossover has versatile cabin space and stronger off-road ability than many cute-utes. It looks sharp too. Won’t please keen drivers.
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross AWD
PRICE Not yet supplied for Australian market WARRANTY five-years, unlimited kilometres ENGINE 1.5L turbo petrol POWER 120kW at 5500rpm b 250Nm at 1800-4500rpm TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual (FWD) or CVT (AWD) DRIVE FWD or AWD DIMENSIONS 4405mm (L), 1805mm (W EXC MIRRORS), 1685mm (H), 183mm (GROUND CLEARANCE) TURNING CIRCLE 10.60m b WEIGHT 1600kg KERB WEIGHT 1440kg (FWD) 1540kg (AWD) SEATS 5 SPARE No THIRST 6.6L/100km (FWD) 7.0L/100km (AWD) combined cycle FUEL petrol
CROSSOVERS MOSTLY line themselves up into size categories, and up to now Mitsubishi has missed them. The ASX is a bit too big for the mini category, but too small to face up to the big-selling compact category. The Outlander is too big for those but smaller than most seven-seaters. So now here’s the Eclipse Cross, to hit that busy spot in the market right up against the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson.
The next-gen Outlander will grow a bit to sit above it, the next ASX will shrink below it, and then Mitsubishi will have a neatly stepped three-crossover lineup. With the pickups and Pajeros on the heavy-duty side. Mitsubishi is re-framing itself as a specialist in SUVs, crossovers and electrified vehicles.
The Eclipse Cross uses a new turbo 1.5-litre engine. You can have FWD in manual, or AWD with a CVT transmission – and it’s the latter we tested. The basic platform is as per the Outlander, and nothing much wrong with that.
We don’t have exact equipment or price details yet. This drive was of Euro-spec cars, and Europe is the first place where it goes on sale, in late 2017. Announcements about local prices and trims won’t come until shortly before the Oz on-sale date in mid-2018.
What’s the interior of the Mistubishi Eclipse Cross like?
The Eclipse Cross actually has the same wheelbase as the larger Outlander, so there’s loads of people-room in its cabin. Up front the seats are commanding and comfy – leather-trimmed on our top-spec tester.
In the back, we find a generosity of legroom, and the surprisingly flat floor (for an AWD) means three can sit abreast without fight for foot space. On that subject, the front seats are well above the floor so the people behind can tuck their feet in under. Rear headroom is just enough even for 1.95m grownups, which is a good result considering the sloping roofline. You can recline them to relax, but that doesn’t add to headspace as it just puts your had under the point where the roof drops earthward some more.
The boot isn’t so big, at least not initially. But the rear seats slide forward by up to 20cm, and they’re split 1/3 2/3, so it you can reasonably hope to find a combination that gives room for all your people (assuming some aren’t that tall) and all your stuff. The boot blind rolls up and stores under the floor. Clever.
All-round vision isn’t bad, and that well-executed split-glass tailgate helps when reversing if the boot isn’t brim-full.
If you’ve been through dust or muck on the way to your smart engagement, you’ll be glad that the doors wrap down over the sills. So when you get out your trouser legs brush over clean metal and don’t get mucky. It’s a sign that Mitsubishi has thought harder about off-roading in this car than rival crossover manufacturers do.
The design and visible material quality of the cabin is up a level from previous Mitsubishis, indeed rivalling the best in the class from Japan or Korea. The dash has a strong three-dimensional design, its separate tiers coming out towards you then receding away again.
Unfortunately the climate control switches and many other buttons are on one of the distant levels, so they lie in shadow and are hard to reach. It’s hard to see what possessed the designers to put some of the switches where they did. Where’s the logic in putting the heated seat switches next to the 4WD mode knob? Why’s the lane departure warning button hidden behind the steering wheel, so when you try to turn it on you might well hit the adjacent one which turns the ESP off?
However, at least the climate control is on actual switches, our preferred way of doing it, rather than buried in screen menus.
What’s the Eclipse Cross’s infotainment like?
The infotainment system, at least the top version we sampled, is relatively straightforward given the range of functions it covers. It supports phone mirroring of Apple and Android devices too. Our test car had no navigation, so we used CarPlay. But strangely, native nav can be had with lower trim levels.
If reaching out for a touchscreen doesn’t suit – say the road is bumpy – you can control it all using a neat and effective trackpad between the seats. This is tactile, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
On that subject, an available head-up-display shows your speed, upcoming navigation instruction, warnings for collision and lane-departure, cruise control info and more. The stereo is a Rockford Fosgate system, as other Mitsubishis, with a boomtastic sub in the boot.
What’s the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross like to drive?
Finally, Mitsubishi’s car range gets a turbo petrol engine. It’s a good one too, with decent reactions over the rev range, and lots of torque low down. We drove it in AWD trim, which comes with a CVT. The front-wheel-drive version has a six-speed manual. Later there will be an all-wheel-drive diesel with conventional torque converter autobox.
Because of the turbo engine’s generous torque at low revs, the CVT doesn’t have to spin the engine revs high just to move it trough traffic. It stays quiet, calm and smooth. But if you go beyond traffic speed, the news isn’t so good. The response is slushy and delayed. Plus you get the usual CVT-style incoherence between speed and revs.
On a twisty road, it’s by far the best to move the transmission lever to the manual position and control the ratio using the steering column paddles. They let you select between eight fixed points on the CVT’s variable spectrum.
Overall performance isn’t bad at all for a biggish car with a smallish engine, with 100km/h passing from rest in less than 10 seconds. Gallumphing across rudely bumpy roadway, the Eclipse Cross’s suspension absorbs the shocks well. The suspension is soft and quiet.
Sure enough at first the steering and cornering also seem soft and wallowy. Even on a pretty straight highway you need to use a bit of extra attention to keep it running down the centre of your lane. Then when you want to corner, it feels imprecise and rolls a lot.
But then if you do drive it harder, it actually gets better. Control the speed with the CVT locked into manual mode, drive it through a bend with more vim than you think the front tyres can cope with, and it balances itself out and throws effort into the rear tyres, feeling quite poised as it goes. This is the electronically controlled centre differential working with a brake-steer function to help get the car turning.
Mitsubishi makes a lot of its off-road heritage, and sure enough that same 4WD system has different modes – road, snow and gravel – which use different torque-apportioning programs in an aim to keep you moving confidently. Ground clearance isn’t bad, and the approach, breakover and departure angles are 18.8, 18, and 29.6 degrees. The makers of most rivals don’t even bother to quote these.
What about safety features?
Mitsubishi says it’s aimed at a five-star Euro NCAP crash rating, which will do the same for the ANCAP system, and it has fitted the necessary extra active safety options to score five starts under those accident-avoidance headings too. But we don’t have the actual verified independent test yet.
There are seven airbags. As to accident-avoidance systems, we’ve got collision warning and mitigation, even for pedestrians. (The versions with adaptive cruise control will do it better at high speed because they have radar as well as the standard laser and camera sensing). There’s lane departure warning – but not lane-keeping assist.
An optional package adds rear radars for blind-spot warning on highways, and cross-traffic detection when reversing out of parking spaces.all-round cameras can be specified for parking, which show an overhead view on the centre screen.
So, what do we think of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross?
Well, based on our initial drive of European-spec cars we can say that it should find plenty of willing buyers so long as they’re not looking for a dynamic drive. The cabin offers plenty of room and it doesn’t look too bad and, while we haven’t had a chance to drive it on rough roads yet, Mitsubishi claims it’ll be at the front of the pack when it comes to rough road ability.