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Review: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL

Kamil Kaluski September 27, 2018 Featured, Mitsubishi Reviews, Quick Spin 17 Comments

Having attended high school and college in the northeast in the 1990s, and having been a car geek, my exposure to the import scene was quite formative. Some of the most iconic vehicles of that era were the Diamond-Star Motor cars. The sport cars of that joint venture were the Eagle Talon, the Plymouth Laser, and the Mitsubishi Eclipse. All three varied in form from a basic econo model to turbocharged all-wheel-drive slayers. In appearance they were rather similar with differences being limited to lights, spoilers, and wheels.

Those days are over. Also over are the Plymouth and Eagle brands. Mitsubishi is still here but the company has had better days. To its credit, Mitsubishi is trying to recover. With minor tweaks, each of the variants of the Outlanders keep improving while remaining a budget conscious choice. The Outlander Sport, while aged, is not a bad vehicle. The company is also venturing into plug-in electric hybrid powertrains. A solid move. And recently they brought back the Eclipse name.

When Mitsubishi announced that the new Eclipse would be a cross-over utility vehicle, people lost their minds. How could Mitsubishi tarnish the Eclipse name like that? Why would they disappoint the dozen of Eclipse faithfuls waiting for their proper sports car to come back? Why, why, why?

Because CUVs sell, stupid. A crossover is what everyone wants now. And, thankfully, the market is already kind of loaded with sporty four cylinder cars. Mitsubishi isn’t making the Eclipse CUV to piss off your crank-walking ass. They’re doing it make money. They’re doing it to survive.

Review: 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SEL

On one hand, the Eclipse Cross is not that far off from what the Eclipse originally was. The top line 1990’s Eclipse was a four passenger hatchback. It had a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It was an all-wheel-drive vehicle. Take the CUV moniker aside and focus on what’s there. The Eclipse Cross is a four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive hatchback. It has grown two doors, a fifth seat, and some trunk space.

Let’s take this further. The twenty-year-old Eclipse buyer lived in the 1990s. Since then he or she has likely put on a few pounds. He or she may have a kid or three. That former Eclipse-owning forty-year-old buyer has the need for the extra space, the extra doors, and maybe even the extra seat. It therefore should not a mind-blowing theory that this 2018 Eclipse Cross might actually be a rightful evolution of the original.

Design wise, the front has the Mitsubishi family resemblance. Side profile is slightly angular, dare I say Aztec-y from a certain angle, and it kind of looks like its butt was chopped off a bit too much. The rear hatch has a split window à la the Honda CR-X. There is the mandatory lower black trim which gives it the CUV creed. In all it’s a fine design that is neither offensive nor attention-grabbing.

The interior of the Eclipse Cross is a slight departure from other Mitsubishi products. The double-DIN headunit of other models is nowhere to be found, replaced by a tablet-like 7-inch screen in the center of the dash. Down below is a touch-pad, which I admittedly hardly used because the touchscreen interface was sufficient. The menus are simple and easy to navigate. The system supports Apple Car Play and Android Auto and it can manage several devices at a time, too. Unfortunately the designers did as Honda does and skipped on the volume knob.

Many other interior pieces seem to come directly from other Mitsubishi cars. The Eclipse Sport also features several different finishes throughout its interior as opposed to one common theme. There are silver pieces, carbon fiber-like pieces, and a piano black-like finish all mixed together. The seats are comfortable and no occupant will be uncomfortable.

The cargo area is a decent in size but the slopping hatch may prevent taller items from fitting in well. The rear seats fold down and they’re split 60:40. Like a proper outdoor adventure ready CUV, the Eclipse Cross has optional (or part of a package) roof rails. You’ll have to opt for cross bars in order to install a cargo box or a bike attachment. When equipped with a hitch, the Eclipse Cross can only tow 1,500 pounds.

The Eclipse feels very neutral in driving. It handles and stops well, but could use a little more power. The ride is comfortable, too, even over the crappy roads of the northeast. This crossover essentially does everything well without being really great nor really bad at anything. The AWD Eclipse Cross is rated 25 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, which sits slightly below average for this class.

The Eclipse Cross starts at $23,595 for base front-wheel-drive ES model. Prices climb over the LE, SE, and SEL model seen here. The AWD SEL starts at $28,150. There is one major option package, the $2500 Touring Package which has a huge sunroof, Rockford Fosgate audio, adaptive cruise control and the various latest safety systems that come bundled with it. There are also numerous accessory packages. 

Will the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross bring back those 90s kids to the dealerships? I wouldn’t count on it. But it will bring in more buyers in general, perhaps those empty-nesters looking to rejuvenate, or at least generate more interest for the brand that needs it. It’s a very competitive segment and the Eclipse Cross is simply just another option.

[Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review.]

All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Redusernab 2018

2018 Chicago Auto Show: Up-Close with Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross

  • neight428

    I’m going with: “we need a name that isn’t already trademarked by someone else and no one really cares about us anyway”.

    • Or they wanted to preserve the trademark…

      • neight428

        Indeed; two birds with one stone. As mentioned, they just want to make the type of car that people will buy and price it below everyone else. It’s a solid business model.

  • Maymar

    Remember how everyone mocked the Juke? At least that drove like a (slightly oversized) hot hatch. That said, these will sell just fine. And honestly, the Eclipse spent most of its life as a middling sedan in sleeker clothes, Mitsubishi did a fine job of tarnishing its name while it was still a sporty coupe (although the Millennial equivalent of the woman in the Days Go By commercial for the 3rd gen would be far more likely to buy an Eclipse Cross than a 2 door).
    Although, if I were Mitsubishi, I’d be putting a ton more money into the Outlander – the plug-in variant seems to be selling fairly well (at least around here), and as long as there aren’t many other people fulfilling the demand for (partial) EV crossovers, might be smart of them to completely dominate that market before anyone else gets wise to it (I know Hyundai’s got the Kona EV inbound soon).

  • Zentropy

    While you do a great job writing them up, you truly get the shaft on car review assignments. I didn’t know the Eclipse Cross existed before reading this, but it’s about the dullest possible vehicle I can imagine to try to find adjectives to describe.

    • Hey, just because Jeff reviewed an Aston Martin the same day as I reviewed this don’t mean I thing. I’ll have you know that I’ll be reviewing a Miata soon and we all know that Miata >>> all.

      • Zentropy

        Sorry, man. I just seem to recall that– in addition to this oversized grocery cart– your more recent reviews included a minivan and a Toyota Corolla. But, I look forward to the Miata review if it’s an RF.

        • Nah, this is great. I rather drive practical cars that most people can afford rather than some exotics with perfect this and excellent that. I’d rather drive this Eclipse than the Lambo Urus for many reasons.
          When I was honest about a $200k Benz, Benz seemed to have got pissed at me. I called the Mirage a bad name and Mitsu is like “fine but check out the Eclipse”
          And also, a lot has to do with my geographical locations. Automakers provide different cars to different regions. Jeff is in So Cal, I’m in Boston.

          • Zentropy

            If I’m honest, I usually skim over supercar and high-lux reviews for similar reasons. (I couldn’t afford to live in SoCal or Boston.) I completely skipped the Hennessey F5 article because big speed means little to me. I just have a big-yawn reaction to most crossovers and front-drive cars. That, and will always make a friendly jab when I see an opening!

  • MattC

    Mitsubishi may be the most honest car company (with Nissan in close second). While auto-journalists seem to generally dismiss the brand and lament about what Mitsubishi’s storied past, Mitsubishi quietly sells decent, reliable cars. They are not ground breaking best of breed. They are simply decent and appeal to budget conscious buyers. Kamil is one of the few who doesn’t start a Mitsubishi article without first deriding the brand. Credit to him for judging the car on its merits.

    • outback_ute

      Mitsubishi is definitely not the most honest company, a couple of years ago it was revealed they had been cheating on fuel economy numbers for 25 years, and I remember back in 2000 it came out that they weren’t reporting defects to the Japanese government when they could get away with it (ie when there wasn’t publicity), again for more than 20 years.

      On the other hand, they do make a decent basic car even if they have not historically been great at valve stem seals or wear which causes premature oil-burning.

      • MattC

        I should have clarified that they are honest in their expectation for their target buyer. Mitsubishi is not in the position to be best of breed in North America. However they do provide decently reliable cars for buyers looking for something new on a budget. Their target buyer will be swayed by a cost competitive new car with a warranty for the price of a slightly used version from Toyota/Honda. In this vein, Mitsubishi (and Nissan to a lesser extent) know their target buyer pretty well and have abandoned all pretenses about their past performance history.

        • outback_ute

          I know what you mean. Like GM with their technical experiments of the early 60’s, they realised that 95% of buyers don’t know or care.

  • Re: calling the Eclipse Cross a “rightful evolution of the original”…

    • You removed ” might actually be…”

  • SlowJoeCrow

    Another angry looking crossover with lots of pointy bits. I wish this obsession with Kill-O-Zap design language would end already. Couldn’t somebody do something wildly organic like Luigi Colani?

  • Alff

    Bland competence is fashionable. Mitsubishi should be the belle of the ball.