TRACTIVE SPORTY COMPACT: were made possible by the Diamond Star alliance, between Mitsubishi, then Japanese zen master of the turbocharging small cars, and Chrysler called Diamond Star. Arguably the 1989 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX compact hatchback (and related Eagle Talon / Plymouth Laser) addicted Americans to possibility of turbocharged high power combined with all-wheel drive in a sports coupe.
INNOVATIVE NAME RETAINED: When the bottom fell out of the U.S. compact car market in the early 2010’s, not even the vaunted Lancer Evo X muscle compact could change Diamond brand’s fortunes, down by nearly 80% from the previous decade’s volumes. Awaiting shared fruits of Nissan’s 2016 acquisition, Mitsubishi Motors America has prophesized a turn-around paring it’s line to crossover utility vehicles. Just as a Voice contestant chances little by jazzing up an old standard, for its latest model the 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross revives a venerable name, adapting it for modern utility usage.
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WHAT: 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (GK series) 2-Row compact Crossover Utility Vehicle, introduced in 2019. The underpinnings, shared with the current Outlander and Outlander Sport, which it slots between, are tried and true dating back 15 years to the DaimlerChrysler days.
Standard Power: transverse 1.5L turbocharged, direct injected DOHC 16V gas I-4 engine w/ idle start stop = 152 hp/ 184 lb-ft + continuously variable automatic transaxle, with brake torque vectoring.
- Steering column oversized shift paddles (SEL only)
Available Drivetrain: Locking viscous clutch all-wheel control (drive) featuring 3-selectable modes: Auto, Gravel, Snow
WHAT [A] STYLING [DIFFERENCE]: Any resemblance with the last Eclipse sports coupe ends at the name as the new Eclipse cross is unrelated to the last PS platform DiamondStar design sports coupe.
OUTLANDER -ISH: √ De-empasized corporate arching horizontal bi- bar grille; √ Drawn back LED lighting; √ Ducted piano black mid front panel splits mid fascia inward arrow housings for DRLs
COUPE ROOF: √ Simulated front & rear lower skid plates; Wide wheel arch flaring; √ Prominent wheel arch cladding; lower body cladding split by metallic inserts; √ Sharply rising belt-line from front wheel arch; √ Tandem sub-belt and cheat-line creases meets declining fast-back roof; √ Low cowl outward view amplified by door mount side mirrors;
AZTEK – IONIQ -FIED: √ Reflector bar splits punched-out rear liftgate window; √ Punched out lower liftgate and rear quarters, sandwich license plate crater; √ LED Hockey stick tailights; √ Bi color lower rear corner reflectors.
- Where are the exhaust outlets? (Concealed beneath the bumper cover)
WHY: Fresh, if not radically new, compact SAV footing for the Three Diamond brand
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Spring 2020
WHERE: Mitsubishi new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Okazaki, Japan
HOW BRISK: Mitsubishi has considerable turbocharging expertise. Timidity, however, would better describe this application. A torque rating of 184 lb-ft so low in the power band does not jibe with a lack of jump off the line. Instead the unobtrusive CVT is wont to whip up engine speed without translating it into much forward snap. In the interest of quiet cabin acoustics, Eclipse Cross carries nearly 230 pounds more than an Outlander Sport. Jumbo steering column shift paddles on SEL models pay homage to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X DCT, yet they amount to futile flipping pinball paddles for pinballs beyond their clutches.
HOW AGILE: The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross checks the right chassis spec boxes with fully independent front strut suspension, a quick steering ratio and disc brakes at the corners. On straight ribbon the damping to coiling ratio expresses composure under undulations and heaves, but hops slightly over uneveness. A spirited helm is ambiguous rather than fluid, which is hardly a surprise given feeble road feel. Any intended urgent cornering is thwarted by that greater elevated mass hence roll and consequent understeer. It is welcome that the binders are of easy to modulate in traffic action. Noise abatement is good for the segment but it amplified cargo load floor creaks.
WHERE TO: Assuming SNOW mode locks more torque aft of the rear differential, the Eclipse Cross footing in deep slushy snow was intermittently tripped up.
HOW FAR: 26 combined miles per gallon. 410 miles highway range, 87 AKI unleaded fuel.
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: By no means a size or cabin space leader among compact crossover SUV peers. The sloping roof and panoramic glass shaves at least an inch from typical 2nd Row headroom.
2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Wheelbase: 105.1″ = 1.2″ < Jeep Cherokee; = Kia Sportage ; 0.8″ < Toyota RAV-4
Row 2 legroom: 36.3″ = 1.9″ < Jeep Cherokee & Kia Sportage ; 1.5″ < Toyota RAV-4
HOW USEFUL: √ Folding 60/40% split 2nd Row seatbacks; √ Low cowl & split extended glass backlight = +1 Forward & rear visibility; +1 Generous front door pockets; +1 Low load floor; Tow Rating: 1500 lbs. -1 2nd Row seat backs don’t fold very flat
2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is marginally more useful than the Outlander Sport, but it’s no match for the leading competitors’ holds:
Max Cargo Volume: 48.8 cu. ft. = 17% < Jeep Cherokee , 19% < Kia Sportage ; 31% < Toyota RAV-4
HOW SAFE: +1 IIHS Top Safety Pick; √ 7 airbags; √ Rear camera; Roll Mitigation
- Included on SEL: √ Surround camera; √ Blind Spot & rear cross traffic warning; √ LED headlamps
- SEL Touring: √ High speed foward collision braking w/ pedestrian avoidance; √ Lane departure warning; √ Adaptive cruise control; √ Automatic high beam lights
-1 It’s the pricier trims which offer driver autonomy functions
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: For a carmaker which typically does cabins in rudimentary plus the 2020 Eclipse Cross ups the interior game. A flat panel TFT dual analog instrument cluster, center dash top media display and more handsome minimized switchgear come aboard for modernity. A considerable expanse of accent metallic and piano black bezels separates consoles and panels, while the dash-top and doors get more soft surfaces. On trims so equipped the leather is up to snuff. Has it been mentioned that knick-knack storage and connectivity is 21st century ready?
√ Leather seating, power 8-way driver’s , 4-way manual passenger; √ Heated, tilt, telescoping steering wheel with smooth surface spoke integrated redundant controls; √ 2-zone automatic climate w/ auto defogger; √ 2nd Row privacy glass; √ Power windows x 4; √ Cup, bottleholders x 6
- +1 Deep rear seat seatbelt receiver pockets = usable mid seat section.
- +1 60/40 split fore-aft sliding 2nd Row seat bench (available w/ heating)
- -1 Way too intrusive when retracted 2nd Row headrests
Cool Gizmo(s): (available) √ Remote infotainment display touch pad controller; √ Key-fob proximity hands-free power folding wing mirrors; √ Split panoramic moonroof, dual power sunshades, front opening; √ Heads Up Display.
Details Done Right: √ Minimalized switchgear with smooth finish; √ Shapely satin metallic & piano black accent trim; √ Uniform seat contast stitching; √ Robust plastic cargo load floor w/ hook strap for raising.
Nearly Non-Descript: Plastic cargo strap down cleats
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ Center dash top mounted 7″ inch capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen w/ center console remote touch pad; √ Large icons; Voice command bluetooth hands-free communications; √ Android Auto, Apple Car Play, Siri-Eyes, Mitsubishi Connect concierge, Sirius XM radio by subscription.
- -1 No available native navigation other than smart phone projection kind.
- -1 Where are the apps?
- -1 Limited functions of remote media display touch pad.
- -1 Rockford Fosgate 9 speaker, 710 watt sound system = Loud > Separation. Attendant subwoofer’s cargo bay footprint is noticeable.
√ USB x 3, 12V x 2; +1 21st century deep lower center stack mobile device storage & connectivity
HOW MUCH: $32,125 = 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL AWC suggested retail price
WHAT’S MISSING: Better fuel economy, more driver assistance safety features on lesser trims.
ANY COMPETITION: Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV-4: all +1 cargo space, powertrain, driver autonomy, infotainment.
(Contributing Editor: Tomasz Paluch)