When I dropped off my wife at her work near the airport a few weeks ago, I was driving a 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SUV. A gang of construction workers was in the parking lot next door, having a smoke, and they stopped to look at the car, really giving it the once-over.
Right away, I knew Mitsubishi had a winner. In recent weeks, those same guys had stopped to look at the 2022 Corvette Stingray and the 2021 Aston Martin DBX I’d used to chauffeur my wife around and for them to stand and admire a vehicle that starts at less than $30,000 was revealing, indeed.
Since we’re talking about price, let’s get that out of the way first. The Eclipse Cross has four trim levels, starting with the $28,598 ES S-AWC and topping out with the GT that goes for $36,998. The SE and SEL trims connect those two, with appropriate pricing.
And since we’re in the mood for statistics, all four trims are propelled by a 1.5-L direct fuel injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It boasts 152 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Translation: lots of power that’s eco-friendly.
There is an eight-speed sports mode CVT that delivers a sporty drive feeling. This is an option on pricier models but I’m not sure you would want it. This is a great compact SUV but it is not going to set any land speed records, regardless of quick gearshifts.
(This is the other thing I find strange about Mitsubishi’s recommendations for this car. It lists two towing capacities for the Eclipse Cross: 680 kilograms if there are five occupants, 907 kg if there are two. I wouldn’t pull anything, frankly. Not that it can’t; just that I wouldn’t.)
Now, about that S-AWC (see, “starting with the $28,598 ES S-AWC”). This in an electronically controlled 4WD system that works in combination with the active stability control and anti-lock brake systems to regulate torque and braking to improve grip. Combine that with an improved suspension and you’ve got excellent handling.
There are three S-AWC driving modes – normal, snow (for slippery surfaces) and gravel (for when you’re stuck).
I don’t know why this popped into my mind just now, but when you talk about grip, handling and modes, you’re talking about cruising and Mitsubishi has got some of the most comfortable seats imaginable. My driver’s seat was so comfy, I felt as if I could have driven non-stop to the Manitoba border. (I probably could have gone further, but when I had the car – which was awhile ago now – COVID restrictions kept us all from going just about anywhere outside Ontario.)
And if all your imaginary friends want to go too, there’s plenty of room in the back seat.
Okay, let’s start at the traditional beginning: the exterior.
First, as those construction workers indicated, this fastback is very stylish. The front and rear overhangs have been extended (adding 140 mm in length, of which 105 mms are at the back), giving the car a very sophisticated look. This has also resulted in an 18 per cent increase in cargo space: 640 litres.
The LED daytime running lights and turn signals are positioned along the top of the front face while the headlamps and fog lights are inside the bumper. The lamps at the rear of the SUV have also been reconfigured, making the back even more distinctive. Mitsubishi says this light layout will be a characteristic feature of their cars going forward.
Moving on: the interior
The cockpit is comfy and functional. Although the steering wheel, itself, seems slightly small for the size of the vehicle, much – if not most – of the technology is included on the spokes. The instrument panel is easy to read and an eight-inch screen next door on the dash, complete with manual turning and volume knobs, takes care of the infotainment system.
Mitsubishi says that the five-seat Eclipse Cross comes equipped with a Smartphone-link Display Audio navigation system. The transparent head-up display drives information to the driver without obstructing his/her vision. On pricier models, the seats are heated as is the steering wheel.
The SUV has the now-usual driver and safety aids: adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation braking system (to reduce collision damage), lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert (when moving in reverse), automatic high beam, head-up display (speed is reflected on the front windshield at eye level) and an eight-speaker sound system.
Older friends insist I put information like this in, when appropriate. Okay. The Eclipse Cross is easy to get into and to exit. There.
BODY STYLE: Compact SUV
DRIVE METHOD: Front engine, electronically controlled 4WD, CVT transmission (eight-speed sports mode CVT available)
ENGINE: 1.5-L direct fuel injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). 152 horsepower; 184 lb.-ft. of torque.
FUEL ECONOMY: N/A
CARGO VOLUME: 640 litres
TOW RATING: 680 kilograms if there are five occupants; 907 kg if there are two.
PRICE: $28,598 low end; $36,998 tops (not including freight, taxes, licensing, options