Road Beat Archive, January 12, 2020
By Larry Weitzman
Mitsubishi has done it again. It has produced the new compact Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and given the auto buyer another great choice in a compact CUV, and its priced to make it a very attractive choice.
It is different looking, with sharp, unique lines and shapes to give it an edgy, sporty look perhaps trying to demonstrate a relationship to the terrific former sports car, the Eclipse. There is no relationship to the Eclipse as much as I would like to tell you, but it’s a sharp vehicle in its own right. While a bit different, it promises a more sporting drive. I like its new design and shapes, it works. But as to other relationships, the Eclipse Cross is based on the Outlander Sport chassis and that is good as my previous test on the new Outlander Sport was all good. However, the engine for the Eclipse Cross is all new and different as is the new transmission.
Eclipse Cross is small, with a length of just 173 inches on a long 105 wheelbase. It is actually a couple inches longer than the Outlander Sport but its virtually identical in width at 71 inches while standing 66 inches tall.
As to the all-new drivetrain, the new engine is a diminutive 1.5L DOHC, 16 valve, direct injected and turbo charged inline four that puts out 152 hp at 6,000 rpm and a stout 184 pounds of twist from 2,000 rpm to 3,500 rpm. Throttle response is strong just off idle. It powers all four wheels via an 8 speed CVT tranny. CVTs don’t have real planetary gears, but are controlled by belts on pulleys. This set up has eight preselected pulley diameters that use paddle shifter fixed to the steering column so they don’t turn with the steering wheel. This is an excellent design as you always know where the paddle shifters are. Kudos to Mitsubishi.
Not only is it extremely smooth, but when you drive even just using the fully automatic “D” which most drivers will use 98 percent of the time, it feels like a geared automatic “shifting” imperceptibly three or four times as the Eclipse Cross accelerates, which it does smartly. Tip-in is strong as is part throttle response and there is NO turbo lag. Many times, I found myself backing off the throttle as part throttle sometimes gave me more then I wanted.
Performance is much more responsive this time around. It sure feels like more than 152 horses up front as the numbers reflect a 0-60mph time of 7.72 seconds and passing times from 50-70 mph of 4.54 seconds on level ground and 7.29 seconds up a steep grade. The strong throttle and initial tip are now reflected in those times. Prior test numbers from a year and a half ago showed 8.79/4.80/9.26 so this ride had numbers a full second quicker to 60 mph and two seconds quicker when running 50-70 mph up a steep grade.
In my prior Road Beat I wrote “for about the same dollars you can buy a Mitsu Outlander Sport which is almost identical in exterior dimensions and uses the same chassis, but it uses the Mitsu World engine, a 2.4L inline four of 168 hp and it out performs the Eclipse by about a second in the three performance parameters while equaling the Eclipse Cross in fuel economy maybe even an mpg better.” This new test changes all that as the Eclipse Cross equals the Outlander Sport in the numbers, while feeling more responsive, so there is no sacrifice to be made for the Eclipse Cross to get its very edgy, Avant Garde look. The Outlander Sport, while very attractive, doesn’t have the pizazz. And the throttle feel of the Eclipse Cross is better than the Outlander Sport. Don’t you hate having to make choices, but at least in this case they are both so good.
My Eclipse Cross was an AWD version which Mitsu calls all wheel control. It sends power to the wheels via a neat CVT that acts like an eight-speed cog-swapper except it is incredibly smooth in its operation. It’s a nice unit.
Eclipse Cross is EPA rated to return 25/26/25 mpg city/highway/combined. 25-26 mpg is the overall number the Eclipse Cross returned for me in 400 miles of driving although, at a constant 70 mph and spinning 2,150 rpm it returned an average of 28.4 mpg or about 10 percent better than the EPA number. Fuel capacity is good at 15.8 gallons.
Handling is quick. Big tires (225/55) and good looking 18X7-inch alloys, quick steering (2.9 turns lock to lock and all independent suspension add up to strong cornering power like that of a sporting sedan. The only thing I notice was a hint of oversteer in exiting tight corners in max performance driving. Cornering speeds were better than expected (refer to the sporting sedan handling, above). Impressive and nimble and almost entirely benign.
Ride quality is firm and extremely quiet on smooth roads, but when it’s the coarse stuff some road noise enters the cabin. The 1.5L turbo engine does work hard when pushed, but at least its smooth so the engine noise is less annoying. But in relaxed cruising on the highway at 70 mph, the quiet was deafening. The quiet was actually noticeable. Kudos again to Mitsu. Of note is the Eclipse payload of over 1100 pounds.
Safety is complete with done to the blind spot warning system, lane keep assist and most every other safety acronym (ABS, TCL, ASC, etc.). Standard LED headlights with the SEL are excellent especially with automatic high/low beams. All wheel disc brakes are large and strong. The seven-inch color screen at the top of the center stack comes with a wide angle rear view camera and a 360 degree view as well. A wonderful feature when parking.
Inside are very comfortable heated front leather chairs and a binnacle full of all the right gauges, a tach and speedo separated by an info center. The HVAC controls and simple and easy enough, but the radio/sound system could use some work. It acts like a Lexus with a touch pad to control it, but I preferred to go direct to the big color touch screen. This time around it was easier to use and the Fosgate sound was fantastic. While I didn’t connect my phone through Bluetooth, it would connect when I plugged my charger into the dash for charging, a nice feature for friends who phones connect to the system when plugged into the charger.
Rear seating is copious and cargo space is listed at 49 cubes behind the front chairs and 23 cubes behind the second row, almost identical to the Outlander and actually more cargo volume than listed for my recently tested and more expensive Volvo XC40.
Now to what the Eclipse Cross is all about, value. My SEL AWD model stickers for just $28,595, a $1,400 upgrade over the SE model and worth every penny. It had two PIO options (PIO meaning port installed options), a rear tonneau cover ($190) and the obligatory embroidered floor mats ($145), plus $595 for the exquisite Red Diamond paint and $2,100 for the Touring Package bringing to total with the $1,095 for the boat from Okazaki, Japan to $32,720. And remember Mitsus come with a 10 year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. It’s a lot of CUV for the money and worth looking at, especially if you like something fun, edgy, sporty and a bit different. If not look at the Outlander Sport which is a solid, takes no chances ride.
Engine: 1.5L MIVEC, DOHC, 16 valve, direct injected, turbo 16 valve inline four cylinder 152 hp @ 6,000 184 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2,000-3,500 rpm est.
Transmission: CVT, Eight speeds in sport mode
Configuration:Transverse mounted front engine/FWD/AWD
Wheelbase 105.1 inches
Length 173.4 inches
Width 71.1 inches
Height 66.3 inches
Ground clearance 8.5 inches
Track (f/r) 60.6/60.6 inches
Weight 3,516 pounds
GVWR 4,630 pounds
Weight distribution (f/r) 58/42 percent
Fuel capacity 15.8 gallons
Cargo capacity (Rear seats up/down) 22.6/48.9 cubic feet
Wheels 18X7 inches
Turning circle 34.8 feet
Steering lock to lock 2.9 turns
0-60 mph 7.72 seconds
50-70 mph 4.54 seconds
50-70 mph (uphill 6-7%) 7.29 seconds
Top speed Does anyone care?
Fuel economy EPA rated at 25/26/25 mpg city/highway/combined. Expect 25-26 mpg in rural/country/suburban driving and 28-30 mpg on a level highway at legal speeds.