THE 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is the Japanese automaker’s newest model, and one that bolsters the company’s presence in the increasingly popular and commercially crucial small to mid-sized SUV segment.
Priced to sit between the ASX and the Outlander, it’s a ‘tweener’ model that’s aimed at small SUV shoppers who want something that’s more modern looking, better equipped and has a more premium feel than the ASX, but isn’t necessarily much bigger.
The flagship Exceed variant certainly adopts a premium feel, but the new model is not without its controversy, mostly caused by Mitsubishi’s decision to resurrect the Eclipse name, which once belonged to a 2-door sports car.
At $36,000 before on road costs, the Eclipse Cross Exceed seems like it’s at something of a price disadvantage as well. That price tag propels the Eclipse Cross, a “small” SUV, deep into medium SUV territory, where the competition is fierce.
To Mitsubishi’s credit though, it’s overflowing with equipment, and we suspect they’re hoping that will justify the cost. It’s certainly feature rich, we’ll give it that, however there’s no additional value adds in the form of different power trains.
This means there’s essentially no mechanical improvements over the base model, and while there is an AWD option available, it costs $2500 more than the front wheel drive version we’re testing here.
Under the bonnet, all Eclipse Cross models (in Australia) are propelled by a fresh 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine. It produces 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque.
It’s not the most powerful in its class but 250Nm of torque does bring a huge versatility advantage over the ASX petrol and its 197Nm torque output. Matched up to the engine, the CVT auto acts like a bit of a boost builder.
The engine revs are held at around 2500rpm to provide strong torque and turbo surge for most of your needs, and although 1.5-litres is small, the turbocharger and the CVT try to bring down fuel economy figures.
On paper, the front wheel drive version consumes 7.3-litres/100km, and in the real world we experienced around 8.5-litres/100km. These figures aren’t especially enticing compared with some of the rivals, but they aren’t too bad either.
Around corners there is evident body roll and lean, with almost sloppy feeling suspension presenting a nice ride but low body control. We didn’t undertake serious off road testing a it’s a FWD, but the handling and ride feels more at home on the dirt.
A relatively long suspension travel from the MacPherson strut front and advanced multi-link rear is more than capable of soaking up big bumps, and on the highway this translates to a very smooth ride.
Seemingly everywhere you look in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed, there are buttons. Dozens of them – certainly more than the average SUV – and it’s all because the Exceed grade is absolutely packed to its metal gills with equipment.
Standout features include a heads up display, panoramic glass sunroof, a 360-degree camera view, active cruise control, a touchscreen infotainment system, a track pad controller for said infotainment and dual zone climate control.
There’s also smartphone mirroring, a digital radio tuner, heated front seats and two USB ports, among a host of other things. That said, there are some holes, including a complete lack of SatNav.
That’s almost unforgivable for a car of this calibre, though you can at least use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to get around that shortfall. That aside, the infotainment system itself also feels dated, and the screen is slow to respond when used.
The touch pad controller feels like it was lifted from an old laptop. The interface is clunky, and with infotainment systems fast becoming a key selling point for new cars, the Mitsubishi’s under done electronics hold it back.
The cabin is basic and while not too flash, is neatly presented, with chrome finishes on a black background. Uniquely, there are two separate sunroofs for front and rear passengers and the rear windscreen is similarly split.
The architectural design of the rear of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross creates a two part back window, divided by a crossbar which greatly obstructs the driver’s rear view, and will polarise opinions.
This is especially pronounced at night, blocking out the headlights of the trailing vehicle if it’s just at the right distance, and combined with the auto dimming rear view mirror, makes it difficult to see vehicles behind you.
The external design also features a sloping roof limiting the boot storage space, which is a common issue with small SUVs, but it does have the advantage of sliding second row seating, liberating leg room when you’ve got passengers to carry.
But that’s unfortunately about the only cabin comfort advantage it has. There’s leather upholstery for a dash of luxe, but a numerous persistent rattles in our test vehicle took the gloss off the Exceed’s semi premium presentation.
The Eclipse Cross is well equipped for safety, with seven airbags, ISOFIX child seat mountings on the outboard rear seats, autonomous emergency braking, ABS, brake assist, traction control, and stability control.
It has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and while it feels a little basic for a top-of-the-line offering it’s well known that the Japanese car maker’s products are dependable, and tried and trusted.
Our 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed was supplied by Mitsubishi Australia. To find out more about the vehicle, contact your local Mitsubishi dealer.