Mitsubishi has a strong reputation for sport utilities that dates back decades. Its latest is the new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross small crossover, a vehicle that is more cute than rugged. Yet it still draws on Mitsu’s SUV heritage. Building a “cute ute” is perfectly in tune with the current trend in crossovers for buyers who use them for daily tasks like commuting and don’t have off-road aspirations.
Stylish shape immediately grabs your eye
The first thing you notice about this vehicle is its stylish shape. It looks and sleek and sporty, and will turn heads in traffic and around town. While it shares the name from the old Eclipse from years ago, it really doesn’t look anything like it. Instead, this crossover looks and feels much more like a mini-SUV.
We drove a fully loaded version, complete with a Rockford Fosgate sound system, leather seats, dual sun roofs and a host of safety and convenience features. The standard 1.5 liter four-cylinder with 152 horsepower engine may not sound like much, but it gives plenty of attitude in this car. The all-wheel control (AWC) gives the driver more flexibility on driving style, depending on terrain and conditions. And if switching back and forth between auto and manual AWD is too much trouble, don’t worry; the car will do it for you.
Comfy, ergonomic cockpit
The cockpit of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is comfortable and controls intuitive, with a nifty touchpad for easy and safe navigation of the infotainment and navigation system. The model we drove had six-way adjustable front seats that are standard with all models, as well as the optional premium sound system.
A cool feature is the head-up display (HUD), which allows drivers to see the speed and gear projected onto a small clear screen in the windshield line-of-sight without taking eyes off the road. Why is this important? Because by far the coolest feature of this car is the up/down shifting paddle on either side of the steering wheel. You can eyeball the curves and let your fingertips do the gear-changing.
More zip in their drive
As we charged up a winding coastal canyon road near Malibu, California, I was able to easily downshift coming into tight corners, and then shift back up, one gear at a time, to gather speed for the straightaway. The paddle shifting makes an already fun car even more fun to drive, and drivers who like a little more zip in their ride will love this feature.
The suspension is stable and smooth, giving the driver extra confidence in and out of tight curves. With the shift paddles in play, I felt a bit like Steve McQueen at LeMans winding through all eight gears as I raced up the winding canyon road. And, if you’re not in the racing mood, you can dial it back, let the automatic transmission do its job and opt for a little more efficiency.
Robust safety features
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is also loaded with standard safety feature like blind spot warning, ABS brakes, adaptive cruise control, side airbags and an electronic emergency brake. The array of safety equipment is impressive for a vehicle with such a low price.
At about $24,000, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a sensible new-car purchase. With a few reasonable upgrades the final cost could end up at close to $27,000, but it’s worth it. And with a respectable 26/29 MPG rating, driving this car won’t hurt at the pump. It will be interesting addition to the ever-growing CSUV market.