Review: 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross ignores its heritage
Mitsubishi reintroduced the Eclipse name in 2018 with the new Eclipse Cross, a crossover in the compact market. The 2019 Eclipse Cross carries forward, bringing an unusually affordable package to the compact sport activity segment and, thankfully, ignores the Eclipse heritage while doing so.
Back in 1989, Mitsubishi introduced the Eclipse as a compact sports car with several spinoffs from Chrysler, including the Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser. Later, the Eclipse shared its platform and almost everything else with the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus. The Eclipse was finally shelved in 2012, after decades of hit-and-miss sales.
Jump forward a few years to 2017 and Mitsubishi announced it would revive the Eclipse name with a new compact. This time a crossover called the Eclipse Cross. That introduced for the 2018 model year as a crossover of a crossover, in the relatively new sport activity design segments where boxier crossover-SUVs become more wagon-like in shape.
As a compact crossover in the fastest-growing vehicle segment, the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross competes against several up-and-comers vying for attention. This segment is replacing compact and midsize sedans for many Americans and now Europeans as it grows in popularity. The Eclipse Cross offers a few things not often found in this entry-level market: turbocharging, a good interior, an easy-to-use infotainment system, and a lot of standard features for a good price point. On the flip side of that, however, it also suffers from a few downers like its lackluster ride quality, loud interior, and pinched cargo area.
Much like the sedan markets they're replacing, the compact crossover segments are competing in two main veins: speedy sporters and blasé econoboxes. The Eclipse Cross sits somewhere in the middle of those, with elements of both approaches in its design. For some, this might be a good mix as a trade-off. Which could be a market segment in itself, given that so many others aim towards the two ends rather than the middle.
Our chief concern with the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is with the car's missing versatility; inherent in the sport activity design. Wagons are, by default, just not as versatile as are more square-box crossover designs. It's for this reason that Subaru sells both the Outback and the Forester. The wagon-ish style of the Eclipse Cross means less headroom and cargo space in the back. It's also got the same weird split window on its hatch that the Prius has, which doesn't make the rearview driver-friendly.
We did like its wonderful little turbocharged engine and its excellent fuel economy. The engine is a tiny 1.5-liter turbocharged four that outputs 152 horsepower (113 kW) to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Every trim level that isn't the base model is all-wheel drive, using Mitsubishi's excellent All-Wheel Control system, which we applauded in the larger Outlander. In most vehicles, a CVT is a soul-sucking unit that refuses any life transfer from the engine to the wheels. Occasionally this is not the case and, if done well, a CVT can add lots of efficiency without killing all semblance of performance. In the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, the CVT doesn't suppress the engine's peppiness.
That job, instead, is left up to the chassis, which has an open door policy when it comes to allowing the roadway to send in the barbarian horde to the passengers' senses. Every bump and noise is free to roam the cabin. As that assault commences, the overly forgiving suspension happily treats the steering and cornering stiffness to some vagueness.
In short, it's such a shame that such a great little powertrain is mated to such a horribly-mismatched chassis. Sad as well, as Mitsubishi definitely knows how to do better.
Outside of those niggles, we like the general interior design, especially given its low price point and good amenities for that money spent. Seating is very well done with four adults easily occupying the Eclipse Cross without much to complain about. The headroom in the back is a bit low for those who are above average in height, but manageable for everyone else.
Surprisingly, the Eclipse Cross has a lot of cargo space for this segment, but it's less useful than larger square-bodied crossovers because of the hatch's downward pinch for the wagon-like style. Cargo space stands at 22.6 cubic feet (640 liters), but there's a fair amount of cargo floor in that number, just not much height. Lowering the rear seats, which do not go down flat, increases cargo to 48.9 cubic feet (1,385 liters).
Parents will be very happy with not only how easy it is to install a child safety seat in the back seat of the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, but also with the well-done latch anchor placement. For a small family, that's a good thing.
So is the fuel economy, which we found generally better than the listed EPA estimates. The EPA says the AWD-equipped Eclipse Cross is rated at 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) in the city and 26-28 mpg (9.0-8.4 l/100 km) on the highway, depending on trim level chosen. Our average, after a week of use as a daily driver, including kid-hauling mixed passenger loads for about 180 miles (290 km), was 28 mpg overall. That's in roughly a 60:40 mix of highway to city driving.
After a week with the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, we found it to be the same kind of hit-and-miss, in general, that its namesake was. It gets high marks for its excellent economy of both price and fuel sipping and its wonderfully well-done drivetrain. It gets lower marks for its versatility and drive quality. There's a place for a good value proposition, which is what will sell the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. There's also a place for overall excellence. That'll be found elsewhere, we think.
Pricing for the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross starts at US$23,595 with our test model ringing in at $28,035, delivered.
Product Page: 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross