Mitsubishi introduced the compact Eclipse Cross for the 2018 model year. It's a 5-passenger crossover that comes with front- or all-wheel drive. Competitors include Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Kia Sportage, Nissan Rogue Sport and Toyota CH-R. It's similar in size to Mitsubishi's own Outlander Sport. For 2020, Mitsubishi shuffles the equipment list a bit, adding safety features some models and making all-wheel drive optional on others.
Eclipse Cross comes in 4 trim levels: ES, LE, SE and SEL. All are available with front- or all-wheel drive. Sole engine is a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 152-horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The engine mates to a continuously variable automatic transmission with simulated step gears. Towing capacity is 1500 pounds.
Prices start at $22,995 on the front-drive ES and climb to $27,245 on the all-wheel drive SEL. All models get a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system, rear-view camera, Bluetooth, automatic climate control and LED daytime running lights. LE models add Android Auto and Apple Car Play compatibility, 18-inch wheels and dual USB ports. SP models add rear spoiler and special exterior styling and badging. SE adds blind-spot warning, lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and, for 2020, forward collision warning, lane-departure warning and auto headlights. SEL adds multi-view camera, leather seats and LED headlights.
Though Eclipse Cross shares some underpinnings with the similar Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, it gets a unique powertrain. The turbocharged 1.5-liter four is thoroughly modern and, for the most part, refined. It provides adequate, if sometimes inspiring for the class. Acceleration around town is good and highway passing punch above average. The turbo engine and CVT combo pushes the Eclipse Sport from 0 to 60 MPH in about 8.6 seconds. The engine is somewhat blunted by the continuously variable automatic, but at least there are simulated step gears when you shift into sport or manual mode. Overall, the engine goes about its job mostly unnoticed and doesn't growl in hard acceleration or shake at idle.
EPA estimates for the all-wheel-drive Eclipse Cross are 25 MPG city, 28 MPG highway and 26 MPG overall. Those numbers are pretty much spot on for the class, if not a bit better than most. In routine suburban commuting expect to average close to 27 MPG overall. If you throw in a bit of gentle highway driving, expect that number to rise to about 30 MPG.
The Eclipse Cross' all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for severe off-road use. The system does have driver-selectable settings for different surface types and has the ability to distribute power front and rear and to the left and right wheels to provide added stability in all situations.
Despite its sporty stance, Eclipse Cross is not a sports car when it comes to handling dynamics. The suspension is tuned to provide a comfortable and composed ride in urban driving situations -- meaning pot-hole strewn roads. That said, the suspension does an excellent job of softening impacts and reducing secondary motions. Unfortunately, There's too much lean in quick maneuvers.
On the handling side, the tires and suspension quickly raise the white flag when speeds pick up. There's only modest dry-road grip and things get a bit queasy when traversing twisty on-ramps and such. Steering effort is very light and there's a numb feeling that does not inspire confidence. Brakes have above-average stopping power for the class and the pedal has a sure and natural feeling.
Though a sometimes gruff in hard acceleration, the engine cruises quietly and there's little tire roar. Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of wind rush at highway speeds. Because of this, interior noise levels can be a bit distracting, though that is quite normal for this class.
Eclipse Cross sports a fresh and modern interior that's a step above others in the class -- especially for the low price point -- and the layout is very functional. Drivers face a traditional twin dial setup flanking a small info display. The center stack features a large panel up top for the infotainment system. Below that are traditional controls for the climate control. Ancillary controls are thoughtfully placed.
The infotainment system is a mixed bag. The screen is up high and well forward. Unfortunately, the screen is somewhat small and the forward placement makes it a long reach. There is a supplementary touch pad for control, but it's not very intuitive in operation. The optional head up display is a nice offering in this class and because it's projected on a separate panel, instead of the windshield, works nicely with polarized sunglasses.
Footprint-wise the Eclipse Sport is on the small side of the compact crossover spectrum, however the interior is actually quite roomy. The front seats have plenty of head and leg room and the rear seats not only slide fore-and-aft, but provide good adult-size room as well. Unfortunately, both the front and rear seats are only modestly padded and don't provide great long-haul comfort.
The tall green house and thin pillars provide an unobstructed view forward, but the split rear-glass hampers the view aft. Entry exit is easy thanks to a slightly elevated ride height and large door openings. Taller drivers may want to take note that the tilt-telescope steering wheel doesn't have much range.
In terms of cargo space, the Eclipse Cross doesn't compare favorably to most compact crossovers, but it does offer more room than subcompact crossovers. With the rear seats in use, Mitsubishi quotes 22.6 cubic feet. Drop the seats and capacity grows to 48.9 cubic feet. The load floor isn't flat and the angled roofline cuts into cargo space somewhat and can limit bulky items. Interior storage is subpar with just a few open and covered bins throughout.
Bottom Line -- Positioned between compact and subcompact competitors, the Eclipse Cross carves out a niche -- one that's made more appealing by an attractive price point, lengthy standard equipment list and impressive warranty. Though it really doesn't stand out in any one way, Eclipse Cross provides solid transportation in a sporty package. In addition, Eclipse Cross offers the latest in infotainment connectivity and a solid set of safety features. Prices undercut rivals significantly and dealers should be willing to discount.