2019 MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS

STYLISH, BUT UNDERSIZED

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a hard vehicle to categorize. It slots between the sub-compact Outlander Sport and the compact size Outlander. That’s a rather a narrow window. However, it is styled differently than either of the Outlanders, and styling is its most prominent feature.

Mitsubishi sees the Eclipse Cross as a small, stylish crossover with a coupe-like silhouette. The tailgate is designed with vertical and angled glass sections in an attempt to simulate a coupe, but the spoiler at the roof line diminishes the effect. Up front, the Eclipse Cross has a bolder face than the Outlanders, and distinguishes itself with thick chrome accents around the fog lights.

Inside the Eclipse Cross, Mitsubishi gave its latest crossover an upgraded interior. My test car featured sturdy cloth seats with contrasting stitching, although the diamond pattern in the material did not garner rave reviews. A seven-inch display screen highlights the dash. It can be operated by touching the screen, or using a touchpad on the console. This seems like a good idea, but I found this system was not as user-friendly as I expected. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on upper range models.

The Eclipse Cross is smaller than other compact crossovers, like the Honda CR-V, or the Toyota RAV4. Backseat room is tight. Smaller passengers may find it adequate, but tall people will feel squeezed. Storage space behind the seats is also below par at just 22.6 cubic feet. Furthermore, the split glass in the tailgate restricts the view to the rear.

Under the hood, Mitsubishi has installed its 1.5-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. It generates a modest 152 horsepower, and is teamed with a continuously variable (automatic) transmission. Acceleration is decent around town, but the Eclipse Cross runs out of steam when pressed hard. In situations like climbing steep hills, the driver might want to slide the gear selector to the manual mode to get a boost in power. All-wheel drive is standard except on the base ES model. Gas mileage is rated at 27-mpg with front-wheel drive, and 25-mpg with AWD.

In the handling and ride department, the Eclipse Cross is not as competent as its leading competitors. The suspension does not feel well tied-down, and the car leans heavily when pressed into tight turns. The ride is fine on the freeway, but on urban streets, a bump in the pavement gets transmitted to the cabin with an unsettling thud.

Mitsubishi offers the Eclipse Cross in four levels of trim, ES, LE, SE and SEL. The ES ($24,590) is the bargain-priced model with front-wheel drive, touch-screen interface and four-speaker audio. The better equipped LE ($25,890) adds all-wheel drive, a touchpad controller and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The up-marker SE ($27,390) gets nicer trim, heated seats blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. The top-of-the-line SEL ($28,890) adds more luxury, and allows you to order the $2,500 Touring Package with advanced safety features.

The base ES has a low price, but does not come with as much equipment as the top competitors. Forward collision warning/ braking, and lane departure monitoring are standard on some compact crossovers. There are better compact crossover choices on the market, and the Eclipse Cross only really makes sense if you are smitten by its distinctive styling.

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