This one’s a little different than the Eclipse you remember
Words by: Adam Allen
Mitsubishi used to be the life of the party, one of the true titans of Japanese brands offering interesting cars. What happened?
Even the mightiest companies, automotive or otherwise, are not immune to hard times. Take a look at contemporary Mitsubishi and juxtapose it with what the company looked like in the 1980’s and 1990’s and you have a starkly different picture. The company that brought us such timeless classics as the 3000GT VR4, the Starion, the mighty Evo, and of course, the O.G. Eclipse always had a special place in the hearts of JDM Nation. Peruse the brand’s lineup nowadays and there is not much that will send your pulse racing. And that makes us sad, because we know that a company with a ton of know-how in engineering superb turbocharged engines and all-wheel drive systems that even Audi would envy can do better.
A visit to the Mitsubishi Canada website will confirm that.
True, and it also confirms that the Eclipse Cross you see here is the most exciting car they offer these days. While we love to wring out the best from any company’s most enticing offering, we’ve had to recalibrate our expectations for this Road Test. Yes, there’s a turbo engine and yes, there is a reasonably hi-tech torque vectoring all-wheel drive system on the menu, but so too is there a CVT and suspension tuned for comfort rather than sport, all riding in Bridgestone Ecopia rubber. Any pangs of nostalgia for Mitsu’s good old days disappear rather quickly. Right now you’re probably thinking that this is going to be a slugfest with the Eclipse Cross taking a direct hit each time, but we’re here to tell you that despite the sporting flames being left to smoulder, this is still a decent car with redeeming qualities.
Things get off to a good start inside.
Those familiar with the current lineup of Mitsubishi product will unanimously agree that the Eclipse Cross has the best interior of the lot. There are whiffs of cost cutting for those willing to look, but the prevailing theme is that they did a good job. It’s comfortable and quiet and has all the amenities you would expect, especially so with our loaded GT tester. It has an airy feeling about it too, and outward sightlines are good except when changing lanes and backing up- that due to the sloping rear styling motif- but hey, that’s what backup cameras and blind sport warnings are there for, right? Our favourite detail hands down of the Eclipse Cross’ interior is the paddle shifters. Although they don’t add too much to any sporting pretension- they react rather slow when you summon movement up and down the eight ‘ratios’ programmed into the CVT- but they look and feel fantastic. So many legitimate sports cars get these wrong, and they could learn from Mitsubishi. Yes, we just wrote that sentence.
Tell us how it drives.
Fancy yourself an enthusiast? If so, you might want to head to the kitchen for a snack while we discuss this because the Eclipse Cross is a bit underwhelming to drive. It’s all good when travelling in a straight line, but things deteriorate somewhat in the bends. There’s nautical body roll, a product of flaccid suspension tuning. There isn’t much steering feel which doesn’t help with placing the Eclipse Cross precisely where you want it to go. The drivetrain serves up adequate power, but you will never use adjectives along the lines of ‘speedy’ to describe what happens when you put your foot down hard. Yet it isn’t all doom and gloom. The brake feel is good and the SUV scrubs off speed with confidence. And while the engine can’t muster neck snapping thrust, it is a commendable powerplant and Mitsu’s well-earned pedigree of turbocharging four-cylinder engines is clearly on display. Even the CVT is well behaved under most circumstances. There is a large set of the population who won’t care much for any dynamic shortcomings and simply want an SUV to get them from point A to point B. In that context, the Eclipse Cross acquits itself rather well.
What might go wrong?
We are adamant that the Eclipse Cross is a step in the right direction for Mitsubishi, but there are some issues they’ll need to address if they’re going to mount a charge back to the glory days. We’ll start with the infotainment system- it is neither intuitive nor responsive. You get used to it, but a little effort from the in-house software team would go a long way. The cargo area isn’t as commodious as you might expect- again, blame the sloping roofline which trades some practicality for aesthetics. Our last gripe surfaced when we put on some tunes, hoping the Rockford Fosgate stereo system would bathe our ears in sonic brilliance. Problem is, it doesn’t sound particularly good and while the spec sheet claims it’s pumping out 710 watts of power we aren’t buying it.
Should I buy an Eclipse Cross?
There are several solid reasons to buy this car. It’s got a relatively sophisticated all-wheel drive system which will bode well for travelling in nasty weather. It comes backed by one of the best warranties in the business; Mitsubishi’s confidence in their products is underscored by one of the biggest quality control stickers we have ever seen mounted on the lower windshield. Furthermore, it is easily the best offering in Mitsu’s current portfolio. Our GT tester isn’t what you would call cheap, but when you move lower down the trim level ladder the value proposition increases significantly. For those of you who just want a reliable, dependable SUV and favor frugal over fast, you owe it to yourself to take the Eclipse Cross for a drive. With that being said, if you have even a few drops of petrol coursing through your veins you might want to look elsewhere. C’mon Mitsubishi- we know you are capable of building some very cool cars, and we’ll be eagerly watching to see what you can come up with over the coming years.
2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC Specifications
- Price as tested: $35,998
- Body Type: 5-door Crossover
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Engine: 1.5-litre inline-4 turbo, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 152 @ 5,500 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 184 @ 2,000 rpm
- Transmission: Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
- Curb weight: 1,590 kg (3,505 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Economy: 11.9/100km (20 mpg)