By Derek Price
Mitsubishi is selling a new crossover vehicle this year, and it’s whipped up a name that’s either brilliant or sacrilegious: Eclipse Cross.
Named after one of the most beloved and best-selling Mitsubishi cars of all time — the sporty and stunning Eclipse — the new Eclipse Cross is trying to evoke some of the same emotions that made people fall in love with its sleek, spaceship-styled sports coupe in the 1990s.
In some ways, it works.
The Eclipse Cross is much better looking than most of its competitors, with a wedge-shaped body, aggressive nose and feathered tail that make it seem fast and edgy. Compared to most of the lookalike, derivative vehicles in this class of two-row crossovers, it definitely stands out.
Interior packaging seems smartly designed, with a usable cargo area and reasonably roomy back seat. I was pleasantly surprised at the head space in back given its sloping roofline.
What about the driving dynamics, though?
With the Eclipse label and killer good looks, I was expecting something sporty and exhilarating from the driver’s seat. Turns out my first impression was just the opposite: silky smoothness.
This is one of the softest riding crossovers I’ve tested, making it extremely comfortable for driving around town and sopping up potholes. The ride is luxuriously mellow, a sharp contrast to its exterior styling. Its numb steering and noticeable body roll in turns make it seem tuned more for serenity than excitement, surprisingly.
The exception is its engine, a 1.5-liter turbocharged unit that responds instantly and aggressively to throttle input. It makes 152 horsepower and, more importantly, 184 pound-feet of torque, enough to move the 3,307-pound vehicle with authority.
Fuel economy ratings are 26 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. That’s not bad given its quickness at stoplights, but it’s also not the best for this class.
The Eclipse Cross is capable of doing light towing — up to 1,500 pounds with a tongue weight of 150 pounds.
Ground clearance of 8.5 inches on all-wheel-drive models adds to its utility. I didn’t test it off-road but imagine it would be a hoot on trails given Mitsubishi’s history of four-wheel traction prowess.
Its all-wheel-drive system, called S-AWC for Super All-Wheel Control, is designed to make it more stable in straight lines and in corners by controlling how torque is routed to each of the four wheels. It also has driver-selectable traction settings for snow and gravel to help in the right conditions.
The Eclipse Cross is available with the slew of active safety features that today’s cars like to tout, including blind spot and lane change sensors, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control and cameras mounted on the front, rear and sides to give you a 360-degree view when parking.
It’s also available with what I consider the most useful features of the smartphone era: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. My iPhone paired perfectly with the vehicle’s screen for easy voice control and Apple Maps navigation.
Another major selling point is Mitsubishi’s warranty. The powertrain is covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles, and the new vehicle warranty lasts for five years or 60,000 miles. It comes with roadside assistance for the first five years, too.
Pricing starts at $23,295 for the base ES trim and ranges up to $30,395 for the SEL Touring grade with all-wheel drive.
At A Glance
What was tested?
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SE 1.5T S-AWC ($26,395). Options: Red diamond paint ($595), tonneau cover ($190), carpeted floor mats ($135). Price as tested (including $995 destination charge): $28,310
Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
Length: 173.4 in.
Width: 71.1 in.
Height: 66.3 in.
Engine: 1.5-liter turbocharged four cylinder (152 hp, 184 ft. lbs.)
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel economy: 26 city, 29 highway
Why buy it?
It’s one of the sharpest looking crossovers on the market today. Its responsive engine, good interior packaging and long warranty are strong points.