Review: 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT
Bringing its own suite of benefits for the practical set.
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Good: A 10-year powertrain warranty is hard to turn down.
- What’s Bad: Infotainment design is among the least user-friendly on the market.
If you see a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross out on the roads, you’ll be able to spot it coming from a distance.
That’s not something that can be said about a lot of SUVs. They all have their unique traits, but design-wise, they tend to follow a formula.
Not the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, though. It cares not for your conventions. It’s all angles in every direction, dramatic forward-leaning stance, and split rear window in the style of the Toyota Prius. Because why not? You’ve got to admire the designers’ spunk.
Whether this design language will endure is yet to be seen: this model was launched by Mitsubishi Motors very shortly after it joined the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance in 2017, meaning it’s the last one that the automaker designed completely independently. Under the influence of its larger Alliance counterparts, will future Mitsubishi designs have quite this much personality? Only time will tell.
For now, if you dig this look enough to consider buying one, here are some of the pros and cons. Few vehicles on the market have a spread between the two that’s quite this wide. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: it means that for the right buyer, someone who is more appreciative of its looks and practicality than turned off by a lack of certain features and unfortunately designed tech, the Eclipse Cross could be a very practical choice.
That Warranty Though
There’s plenty to say about the powertrain, which comes in a single configuration in every model: a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, rated at 152 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque between 2,000 to 3,500 rpm, paired with a continuously variable transmission and Mitsubishi’s four-wheel drive system.
The amount of power and its delivery through the CVT are livable and would be considered acceptable in many entry-level compact SUVs. But by the time you’re spending as much as this GT model, a fair chunk of the competition is offering you higher-powered engine upgrades: the 2019 Ford Escape (bearing in mind that it’s on its way out) goes up to a 245 hp 2.0-litre in its Titanium trim, for example, and the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has a net system output of 219 hp.
Plus, on the all-wheel drive system – which is standard at every trim level – repeat Mitsubishi customers might be used to toggling between two- and four-wheel drive in the RVR or Outlander, but the Eclipse Cross doesn’t do that. There’s a drive mode selector for auto, snow, and gravel, but that’s as deep as the control goes.
On the other hand, Mitsubishi Motors Canada covers the Eclipse Cross’s powertrain with the same 10-year, 160,000 km limited warranty that’s offered on all their vehicles. If you’re happy with a lower power output and you tend to keep your cars for a long time, that kind of security could be a big deal.
Official fuel economy figures from Natural Resources Canada are middling: at 9.3 L/100 km combined, there are about as many competitors that outdo it as those who don’t. Even Mitsubishi’s larger Outlander SUV, when equipped with the naturally aspirated 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, does better on paper at 9.1 L/100 km. In real life, after a pair of long-distance highway runs to Detroit and back, I ended my week at 8.5 L/100 km, which seems to me to be reasonable.
The Eclipse Cross has a few traits that don’t tend to be present on other vehicles in its class. Some people may like the way they differentiate it from the crowd, while others may not.
For example, I find that the front-row seats are much higher and more upright here than in most compact SUVs. I like to sit lower than most people, so I never quite got comfortable with it. But a major reason for the popularity of SUVs these days is their height, so there are plenty of potential buyers who might see this as a good thing.
Another attribute is that the suspension is tuned to be quite compliant with the road, meaning that it permits some lean on curves and on-ramps and follows along somewhat through vertical bumps. Again, this is not my preference; even in an SUV, I find it more comfortable when the car stays relatively flat. But if that doesn’t sound like you or you’re not generally fussed by such things, then maybe this could work for you.
There’s no full panoramic sunroof available, but instead there’s a pair of smaller ones. Together, they don’t let in quite as much natural light as one larger one would, but the rear one does brighten up the second row more than the single pane where several competitors stop.
I never have gotten used to looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing a split window in any vehicle. I find that it forces my eyes to take a moment to adjust. But I’ve never driven with it for more than a few days, and perhaps other drivers don’t have any trouble adapting. If you like the look and it doesn’t bother you, then there’s no real cause for concern.
The Eclipse Cross does have keyless entry, but it doesn’t work on the rear doors, even with multiple taps of the unlock button. Whenever I need to let my daughter in, I have to unlock the front door, open it, and then hit the unlock button inside so that she can open her door. This wouldn’t take long to drive me crazy, but people who are less easily annoyed or don’t use the back row very often might not have trouble living with it. At least the GT model makes up for it with heated rear seats (and a heated steering wheel, as it happens).
Finally, there’s no power liftgate available, even in this top-of-the-line GT tester. There’s not much getting around this one: most SUVs in this class include this feature in their top trims, and it’s one a lot of buyers look for. Granted, though, many competitors can get a fair bit more expensive than this in their top models.
Infotainment Not Designed for Us
Here’s an infotainment quirk I haven’t encountered before: the system in the Eclipse Cross wouldn’t be too bad except that it was clearly designed for a right-hand-drive vehicle – Japan drives on the left side of the road, after all – but it was never converted for export. That means that the on-off button and the volume control are on the far side of the screen, well outside my reach in my preferred seating position.
The volume control is also a pair of push buttons rather than a dial. (Someone must have missed the barrage of complaints that Honda received when it briefly went this route.) There are steering wheel controls, but they’re buttons as well. Whenever my kid asked me a question, I’d have to say, “hang on a second, sweetie” … tap, tap, tap, tap … “sorry, what did you ask?”
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, which cures a lot of ills. But still, the thought of living with this system long-term – and thanks to the warranty, if you’re buying this vehicle, you’re probably planning to keep it for a while – would be the factor that sends me looking elsewhere. There are plenty of folks who couldn’t be the least bit concerned over how an infotainment system works, though, and they may find these things don’t grate on them as much.
The sorts of people who are going to be impressed with the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross are those who aren’t easily fazed by its quirks and can appreciate a stout value proposition. The more frugal and long-game-minded buyers among us may find that it’s worth living with a few drawbacks in exchange for the relatively low price on this high-end model and the warranty that offers security over many years of ownership.
2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT
BODY STYLE: Compact SUV
CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, four-wheel drive
ENGINE: 1.5-litre turbo I4; 152 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 184 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 3,500 rpm
FUEL ECONOMY (L/100km): 9.6 city/8.9 hwy/9.3 combined
PRICE: $37,873 as tested, including freight and PDI
WEBSITE: Eclipse Cross