I’ll confess two things right up front: One, I keep forgetting Mitsubishi is still selling cars in America, and two: this is what the Eclipse has tuned into? This? The Eclipse used to be a sport coupe with a killer all-wheel drive setup. Then it turned into a more (and more) watered down version of itself; a copy of a copy of a copy.
And that was sad, but now it’s this thing. Sigh.
This is yet another SUV/crossover/thingo which, yeah, makes a certain amount of sense, but not that much sense. Mitsubishi is particularly unrepentant about how it took the name from a (close to a) sports car and slapped it onto what-might-as-well-be-a-station-wagon: “The Eclipse sports car was one of Mitsubishi’s best-selling and iconic vehicles ever. Now, the Eclipse moniker is making its jubilant comeback with the same reputation for driving dynamics and technology in the form of a CUV.” [Gag, gag, ga-ag!!]
What the Eclipse Cross offers, sadly for the marketing outlook, is rather standard faire. Mitsubishi says the Eclipse Cross has coupe-like styling, which is kind of true. When I first saw the pictures, it reminded me of a better looking Pontiac Aztek, but I’ve decided not to mention that, since even that is just too low of a blow to make. Mitsubishi also says it has the look of an Olympic runner in the “get set” position, and that this view is “highly anticipatory, and such is the emotion while looking at the Eclipse Cross.” Seriously. They said that. No, what we’ve got here is a basic two-box shape with a slightly squashed tumblehome, and a rear that looks like it’s been kicked by a giant.
Sure, it has all the Mitsubishi styling cues found on its corporate siblings like a common grille design, which Mitsubishi insists on calling “Dynamic Shield.” It’s not bad looking, but it is rather generic, which can be bad for a floundering car company trying to distinguish itself. Mitsubishi also came up with a new color for the Eclipse Cross: Red Diamond. It’s not just a new color, but a newly developed painting process that creates high intensity and brightness they say. It seems like a nice finish, and you’ll most likely see it on other Mitsubishi products.
Power & Performance
The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross features a standard 1.5-liter direct-injected turbo engine. Mitsubishi always made good engines, even if they couldn’t keep the variant count low. Yes, getting specific in the engine room does improve performance and allows power customization. But if you shy away from commonality, the part costs go way up.
The 1.5-liter turbo mill puts out 152 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 184 lb-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm, and is said to return greater fuel economy than the other corporate engines of this size. Mitsubishi is contradictory, however, saying the plant’s maximum torque is achieved at just 2,000 rpm, but, spec-wise, what we’re dealing with is a torque curve 2,000 rpm wide. Like seemingly all Mitsubishi vehicles, keep the engine spinning, and you’ll have fun. Mitsubishi has also added sodium filled exhaust valves to maximize performance.
All-Wheel Drive Tech
Of course the power and torque is sent to the pavement via an all-wheel drive system of considerable potency. Mitsubishi calls their system Super All-Wheel Control, which is a bit much, but also pretty close to true. Super All-Wheel Control, or S-AWC, is cleverly integrated with the vehicle dynamics control system to monitor each component of the 4WD system, Active Stability Control, ABS, and Active Yaw Control. This is so the torque sent to the rear wheels is manipulated for optimal traction and performance. S-AWC has an advanced sensor monitoring system for the steering angles, wheel speed, engine torque, gear ratios, yaw rate, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, and brake pressure. All this is put under your control through three different modes: auto, snow, gravel.
So Mitsubishi still has that going for it, and their knowledge of all-wheel drive systems allowed Tommi Makinen and Risto Mannisenmaki to beat the rally opposition four years running. Thankfully, that ability is still found in Mitsubishi’s products, even in CUVs.
Safety & Connectivity
Naturally there is a buffet of tech and safety stuff contained on-board. There’s a 7-inch monitor on the dash that controls the audio system and connects to your smartphone (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, of course). A full-color heads-up display provides the driver with real-time vehicle information like speed, cruise control settings, forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, and paddle shift gear position. The Eclipse Cross also comes with Mitsubishi Connect, which includes everything from a Telematics Control Unit, a 4G LTE cellular modem, and a GPS system.
Pricing & Availability
When and how much? The 2018 Eclipse Cross arrives in March and starts at $23,295 for the base ES model. Other trim levels include the LE, SE, and SEL, but no pricing information was given for those. The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross sounds like it will do what it’s advertised to do; whether you want it to is, uh, up to you. Personally it’s not my cup of tea. I’d much rather have an Evo or something like that, but hey, it’s your garage.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Gallery
Photos & Source: Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.