2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: A completely new SUV worth checking out [First Look]

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 26.JPG
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

Mitsubishi is kind of a forgotten automaker. Nothing in its stable is likely to be on most people’s list when they are cross shopping a vehicle purchase. And I’ve even had several people ask me if Mitsubishi is even producing vehicles for the United States anymore.

It is.

And the all-new 2018 Eclipse Cross is a vehicle worth checking out.

Slotted between the Outlander Sport and Outlander, the small SUV is meant to be on the sportier side of the spectrum.

I haven’t driven a Mitsubishi product since 2014, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But in plain terms, I’d say the Eclipse Cross meets or exceeds expectations in all categories.

Eclipse Cross is equipped with a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This is a different engine from both the Outlander Sport and Outlander get, and it has greater torque.

This translates into quick off-the-line starts and some fun-to-drive acceleration in curvy road situations.

The Eclipse Cross is a nice handling vehicle, an aspect the folks at Mitsubishi highlighted with drives through mountain switchbacks surrounding the Los Angeles area.

One slight blip in the fun is the flat-out acceleration that you’d experience when merging with traffic on the highway. It’s a tad lackluster. However, the SEL Touring models that we were driving during the press launch came equipped with column-mounted paddle shifters, and this helped with faster acceleration.

The standard transmission in the Eclipse Cross is a continuously variable transmission, and it does fairly well for this vehicle and keeps the engine from sounding like it’s struggling in all but the hardest of accelerations.

I was also mostly impressed with the interior design and materials. I liked the shiny black lacquered inserts on the center stack, and the available leather seats had attractive reverse stitching.

I particularly appreciated the 7-inch infotainment screen mounted atop the center stack that is touch activated. There is also a redundant track pad next to the gearshift, but nothing beats the visual/tactile relationship of clicking on an actual icon.

The one design element that seemed out of place was the etched plastic attempting to mimic carbon fiber. These accents were both outside and inside of the vehicle, and it came off looking cheap whereas everything else looked nice and clean.

The Eclipse Cross will be available in four trims: ES, LE, SE and SEL and will have a base price of $24,290. This base trim will include features such as Bluetooth phone pairing, rearview camera, heated power side mirrors, cruise control and automatic climate control.

Mitsubishi expects the LE ($25,890) and SE ($27,390) trims to be the volume sellers, so it’s no surprise these trims get a higher level of content.

The LE trim adds the 7-inch audio display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 18-inch wheel. The SE trim adds features such as blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, passive entry and push-button start.

At the top-tier SEL trim ($28,890), you’ll get leather seats, LED headlights, head-up display and a multi-view camera system. The SEL also has a touring package available ($31,390), which adds additional features such as a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium sound system, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.

Another point of interest: All of the trims except the base ES are standard with Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control system (which is a fancy way of saying all-wheel drive). The ES is standard with two-wheel drive but adds the S-AWC for just $600. No other trim has 2WD available.

The Bottom Line

I was impressed with the Eclipse Cross. I thought Mitsubishi did a great job with the interior and exterior styling, and I’m particularly fond of the curvaceous tail end – which sets it apart from other crossovers on the road.

Because Mitsubishi has been a bit absent for the past few years (its last new vehicle was the fuel-sipping Mirage back in 2014), the road ahead for this small automaker won’t be easy. But putting out an attractive and solid vehicle like the Eclipse Cross is an excellent start.

If the accessible price point isn’t enough to have you take a look at the Eclipse Cross, perhaps the Mitsubishi warranty will push you over the edge. It includes:

  • 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty
  • 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty
  • 7-year, 100,000-mile anti-corrosion/perforation limited warranty
  • 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance

The Eclipse Cross hit dealers in March of 2018, and I can confidently say you should add it to your must-test list if you’re looking at the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, GMC Terrain, Ford Escape or Nissan Rogue.

Editor’s Note: Driving impressions in this “First Look” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Mitsubishi covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.