If you need any proof on how crucial crossovers and SUVs are to the global automotive industry, just look at Mitsubishi. To keep up with its high-volume rivals, Mitsubishi has gone all in with a trio of distinct compact CUVs. Slotting between the entry-level Outlander Sport and the three-row Outlander is the all-new 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.
Before you get excited about the return of the Mitsubishi Eclipse, this is no sports car. Instead, Mitsubishi says that the use of the Eclipse name “builds on a history of style, technology and fun-to-drive dynamics.” The Eclipse Cross sits in growing segment of niche crossovers like the Nissan Kicks, Toyota C-HR and Subaru Crosstrek, which all sacrifice a little utility in the name of styling, but it’s a popular market nonetheless.
Keep reading to see if the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross can stand out in a crowded compact crossover segment.
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exterior
The recent crossover boom has proven that low-volume entrants can’t afford to play it safe when it comes to styling, which has resulted in bold-yet-polarizing designs. The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross definitely fits into this classification with styling first suggested by the 2013 XR-PHEV Concept.
Up front, the Eclipse Cross is very similar to the slightly larger Outlander, but from the A-pillar back, this design shows the edgier — and braver — side of Mitsubishi’s design team. The split rear window is the most questionable part of the overall design drawing comparisons to the much-hated Pontiac Aztek, but like the XR-PHEV concept, it does give the Eclipse Cross its most eye-catching detail, the taillights. At night, the LED lights illuminate horizontally through the rear glass, and our my favorite element is how the lower portion of the taillights line up perfectly with the sharp, downward body crease that runs forward through the doors.
All Eclipse Cross models come standard with LED daytime running lights, fog lights, tinted glass and a roof spoiler. For a sportier, more upscale appearance, the SE trim level we tested adds stylish cues like the two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels, a chrome grille with gloss black insert, silver accents in the bumpers and lower door trim, as well as convenience features like power-folding door mirrors and rain-sensing wipers.
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Interior
While it rides on the same 105.1 inch wheelbase as Mitsubishi’s other crossovers, the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is about two inches longer than the Outlander Sport and 11 inches shorter than the Outlander. Despite the longer dimensions, that stylish exterior results in a slightly less interior volume than the Outlander Sport with a noticeably tighter back seat and smaller cargo area. That being said, with room for five passengers and up to 48.9 cubic feet of cargo volume, it’s a lot more space than the similarly priced C-HR offers.
Where the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross really stands apart from other CUVs – including the Outlander and Outlander Sport – is the cabin design. Like the exterior, the interior is more style-driven, with the only obvious shared component between the Eclipse Cross and the Outlander/Outlander Sport being the three-point steering wheel. To take this styling up a notch, there are actually several different looks available.
The base ES has a standard seven-inch touch screen head unit, while higher trim levels get a more upscale system with a raised infotainment screen and a Lexus-like touchpad controller. Instead of having a mouse-like cursor on the screen like Lexus, the Eclipse Cross’ touchpad just highlights a button on the screen; its operation isn’t quite as graceful or intuitive as the Lexus infotainment system, but it does give a better user experience than the touch screen used in other Mitsubishi systems. Finally, the SE and SEL trims get a cleaner-looking cabin by replacing the mechanical parking brake with an electronic parking brake.
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Powertrain
The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is offered with a single powertrain consisting of a 1.5-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder paired to a CVT designed to mimic an eight-speed automatic transmission. Engine output is rated at 152 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 25 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway** for this SE all-wheel drive model. Power output or fuel economy are below the class-leading Honda CR-V, but neither are disappointing.
Mitsubishi’s sporty Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system is standard on the LE, SE and SEL trim levels and is available on the ES for just $600. This system is the best reason to choose the Eclipse Cross over most of its rivals, as it gives the 3,516-pound (as-tested) crossover noticeably sportier cornering and more confident driving. I didn’t try to tow or take the Eclipse Cross off-roading, but its 1,500-pound towing capacity and 8.5 inches of ground clearance are enough to have a little fun in the dirt.
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Safety
Although it has not yet been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross does come standard with seven airbags, hill-start assist and seat belt reminder for all seating positions. The SE trim adds blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist, but you have to step up to the top SEL trim to get features such as forward-collision mitigation, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Overall
The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross might not be the sports car that enthusiasts were hoping for, but like that coupe from the early ’90s, this crossover is exactly what Mitsubishi needs to spark a renaissance. More importantly, the excellent factory warranties (five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty) and low starting MSRP ($23,295*) make this crossover an excellent buy on just value alone. The SE trim starts at $26,395*, and this Eclipse Cross had an as-tested price of $27,715 after factoring accessories like the rear tonneau cover ($190) and carpeted floor mats ($135).
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Mitsubishi dealership and test drive the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.