I pass a gentleman on my way to work most mornings in his silver Mitsubishi Eclipse GT. It’s a late-model car, probably a 2009 or 2010 by my eye, that appears meticulously maintained. I like to assume that this gentleman bought the car new a decade ago and has kept it factory fresh ever sense. I like to think that he takes pride in his brand choice, keenly aware that his coupe doesn’t look like anything his circle of friends are driving these days. I imagine him scheduling his service appointments religiously every 15,000 miles. His 90-minute wait at the local dealership is somewhat exciting, bringing the prospect of seeing Mitsubishi’s latest models. Perhaps, he thinks, there might be something worthy of replacing his beloved Eclipse. I imagine the day a salesman stops by the service area to tell him that there’s a new Eclipse. Imagine his excitement at the possibilities of a new Eclipse! It’s got a turbo motor and S-AWC just like the Evo, the salesman would say. This gentleman remembers an Evo X sitting cordoned off and untouched in the dealership when he picked up his Eclipse GT, as if it was something very special. And the new Eclipse has all those and the Evo X’s shift paddles, all for a starting price under $30,000! Imagine how easy it was to talk this gentleman into a quick test drive of the all-new 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. And all I can think about, as I pass this man most mornings, is how disappointed he would be.
I don’t dislike the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross for what it is, I dislike it for what those at Mitsubishi tasked with selling it want you to think it is. “With a reputation of being fun to drive and advanced technology, the Eclipse sports car was one of Mitsubishi’s best-selling and iconic vehicles ever. Now, the Eclipse moniker is making its jubilant comeback…in the form of a CUV…“. They can’t present this all-new model without, in the first sentence of the press release, reminding you of what it isn’t. It isn’t an Eclipse. Strip away the resurrection of the nameplate, however, and you’re left with a fairly competitive CUV. But it isn’t without it’s flaws.
The Eclipse Cross comes with a polarizing design. Some are quick to write it off, but the overall styling and controversial split rear-glass with high tail lights grew on me the more I lived with the CUV. The bright and sparking Red Diamond paint was a beacon of color in the dull winter weather. The shape has somewhat of an X4 vibe, but the rear seat headroom isn’t as compromised. There’s room for 4 adults and plenty of cargo behind the seats, as long as it isn’t too tall. Rear visibility also isn’t as much of an issue as the shape would lead you to believe. The rear brake light sits low enough that I had no trouble seeing the traffic behind on the highway. The lower glass also has the benefit of making reverse parking a breeze.
A 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder produces 152hp and 184 lb-ft torque, meaning the Eclipse Cross is capable of running errands and darting around in local traffic without feeling strained. The CVT disappoints with its very nice but very useless shift paddles. Mitubishi’s S-AWC all-wheel-drive system handles the power distribution, but there’s never any drama in dry conditions. That leaves you with plenty of attention to pay to the infotainment system. It is, in a word, infuriating. The Lexus-esque touchpad looks intuitive but, unlike a Lexus, movement on the touchpad doesn’t translate into fluid movement of the cursor. Instead, each gesture moves the cursor one position. One! Drag a little or a lot, and you only move one space. One! That means if you need to move over two spaces and down three, you have to make five distinct movements. Pair that frustration with a sluggish Apple CarPlay responsiveness and I was caught cursing at the center console in traffic on more than one occasion.
I love the practicality and the design of the Eclipse Cross. I even don’t mind the interior materials at the $28,000 base price for the SEL model. What I can’t justify, however, is the $2,440 in visual upgrades applied to our tester. The chrome package adds chrome mirror caps, chrome door handles, and chrome molding at the bottom of the doors. The LED Illumination Package brings illuminated door sills, an LED tailgate light, and blue footwell lighting. The LED Interior Enhancement Package, not to be confused with the previous package, adds LED interior lights and gloss black window switch trim. Finally, and most confusingly, the Premium Exterior Package adds front and rear corner extensions and side extensions with front and rear garnish. As best I can tell, this means the little bit of extra plastic with a red line on it that runs around the lower edge of the car. And it takes a very reasonable $27,895 base price for the top-trim SEL model up to an as-tested price of $35,260!
The Eclipse Cross is an exciting CUV for Mitsubishi. It’s exactly the kind of product the brand needs to capture new buyers. The looks might be radical, but appeal is definitely there. While the tech might be the biggest disappointment for most, I feel more for the fans of the brand. This isn’t an Eclipse and it should be a crime to call it as such.
|2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
|Red Diamond Paint||$595|
|Rear Park Assist Sensors||$510|
|LED Illumination Package||$360|
|Premium Exterior Package||$1,395|
|Carpeted Floormats and Portfolio||$135|
|LED Interior Enhancement Package||$290|
|As Tested MSRP||$35,260|