We embarked on what we hoped would be an enjoyable and relatively uneventful road trip from Toronto to Palm Beach, Florida, and back, in a 2018 Rally Red Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT. The trip started off well but ended up with me in the hospital having surgery. Let’s start at the beginning.
The Eclipse Cross is an all-new compact SUV launched by Mitsubishi for the 2018 model year. It is the perfect size vehicle for two passengers with lots of luggage who are embarking on a ten day road trip. It is also a nicely sized SUV for a growing family (with young kids) or shrinking family (of empty nesters). Equipped with S-AWC (Super All-Wheel Control) it handles like it’s the right size too. Not too big to be cumbersome to maneuver in congested cities, but big enough to instill lots of confidence when eating up mile after mile (after mile) of open highways.
2019 MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS
Eclipse Cross ES S-AWC
Eclipse Cross SE S-AWC
Eclipse Cross SE BLACK EDITION S-AWC
Eclipse Cross SE S-AWC TECH
Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
We were driving the top of the line GT model which comes with numerous safety features and equipment not on the base model. Our GT was equipped with Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM) with pedestrian warning, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Heads-Up Display (HUD) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).
Our GT was also equipped with paddle shifters, heated and power-folding side-view mirrors, front and rear passenger sunroofs with power sunshades, leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate Punch audio system with 9 speakers including a 10" subwoofer and power door locks with FAST-Key keyless entry, push button start, and panic alarm.
As you can see, our SUV was well equipped, had a really nice interior and was ready for a 5,000 kilometre journey. The question was, were we?
We set out from Toronto with our first major stop in Nashville, Tennessee at the new JW Marriott Nashville. This impressive 33-story glass and steel structure in the heart of Nashville opened in 2018. It is just a few blocks from the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Bridgestone Arena which is home to the Nashville Predators NHL hockey team, and across the river from the Nissan Stadium, home to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. But perhaps the main attraction is its proximity to the few blocks on lower Broadway which is home to more country music bars and clubs than you can imagine.
We encountered a solid day of rain on our drive from Detroit, Michigan to Nashville. The Eclipse Cross is extremely surefooted with its S-AWC all-wheel drive, which is seamlessly hooked up to the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). It is interesting to note that Mitsubishi has created a simulated series of gearshifts in the CVT, which can be accessed via the steering column mounted paddle shifters, or the gear shifter. A CVT is driven by a belt that is connected to two continuously variable gears, hence the name. But Mitsubishi have added shift points to allow drivers to operate the CVT as though it was a conventional transmission, thereby creating the best of both worlds.
After a couple of nights in the busy Music City honkytonks, listening to country music and sampling Nashville cuisine, we set out on the road again.
Our last major stop before Palm Beach was the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes hotel and yes, it is grand. Set on 500 lush acres it is also home to The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grand Lakes. Both big hotel complexes are connected to each other and available for use by all hotel guests. Swimming, lunches and dinners can be split between the two resorts so that guests can take in the truly impressive facilities. A par-72 Greg Norman designed golf course is also at the guest’s disposal. Just a shuttle ride away are Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld.
Both my wife and I commented on just how comfortable our leather Eclipse Cross GT seats were. It is not uncommon for me to get a sore back after a few hours of driving. From our long-term Golf GTI (with leather seats) to our long-term Alfa Romeo Giulia (with leather seats), getting out and stretching after a few hours behind the wheel is not uncommon. We did not experience that with the Eclipse Cross’s seats. This is more than likely a personal experience, but we are happy to say that we enjoyed our leather seats mile after mile after mile.
We also enjoyed and made great use of the heads-up display (HUD). When Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is engaged, the speed at which the cruise control is set is displayed in the HUD, as is the vehicle’s current speed. Lane departure warning is also displayed there. This is all very useful information available at a glance, without having to look down at the main instrument cluster.
Florida Interstates – Driver Beware
From Orlando we were on our final leg of the drive, down the state of Florida to Palm Beach on the state’s east coast. Florida state highways have a reputation for being home to some of the most aggressive drivers in North America. I75 and I95 run from the top to the bottom of the state, I95 to the East and I75 to the West. And yes, the drivers are extremely aggressive. It seems that slower drivers like to make their way over to the left lane, and camp out there for hours on end, oblivious to the faster traffic that inevitably backs up behind them. Therefore, in order to get past the slower left lane dawdlers, passing is done anywhere at any time in one or more of the three lanes. It becomes a free-for-all with an endless supply of frustrated drivers climbing up each other’s tailpipes.
Just 48 hours after our drive on I75, a fiery multicar accident near Gainesville resulted in seven deaths and eight injuries. Five of those killed were children between the ages of 9 and 14 in a church van heading home from Disney World. Two truck drivers also died in the crash. We have driven up and down the state of Florida on both interstates. We have witnessed high speed aggressive driving and disrespect for fellow motorists that more than lives up to the state’s reputation. We stayed in the right lane, watched most of the craziness take place around us and bided our time until we made it safely to our final destination.
Palm Beach, Florida
What’s better than having a sunroof in the Sunshine State? Having two sunroofs, and that’s just what our Eclipse Cross was equipped with. The moment we got off the highway we opened the front sunroof and let the welcomed rays of vitamin D flood into our vehicle.
Mitsubishi has chosen to no longer offer navigation on their vehicles. Instead, Apple Car Play and Android Auto are offered to allow owners to connect their smartphones and utilize the navigation system of their preference. We used Waze as our guidance app of choice. It seamlessly integrated into the centre display screen and provided us with visual and audio prompts for our 5,000 kilometre journey.
We were very appreciative of the fact that our Mitsubishi used regular unleaded gasoline. The lowest price we encountered on our journey was just USD $1.81 per gallon for regular gas. When converted to Canadian dollars, that is the equivalent of just CAD $0.65 per litre. The Eclipse Cross is rated at 8.9 litres per 100 kms highway and we averaged about 8.8 litres combined, albeit most of our driving was on 70 mph highways (112 km/h). Cruising at slower speeds would likely result in better fuel economy. Premium gas costs on average about fifty-percent more than regular. Our Eclipse Cross proved to be very cost-effective because it didn’t require premium fuel.
On our drive down to Palm Beach we made a list of what we liked and didn’t like about our Eclipse Cross GT. Our list of likes was very long; our list of dislikes included just three items.
What we liked the most about the Eclipse Cross GT included (in alphabetical order):
∙ 10-year/160,000 km Powertrain Limited Warranty
∙ 5-year/100,000 km New Vehicle Limited Warranty
∙ 5-year/Unlimited km Roadside Assistance
∙ Active Stability Control
∙ Adaptive Cruise Control
∙ Apple Car Play and Android Auto
∙ Back up camera
∙ Blind Spot Warning
∙ Brake Assist System
∙ CVT with Paddle Shifters. It doesn’t make sense because a CVT is a continuously variable transmission but we loved to be able to paddle shift our way up and down the 8 shifts that have been programmed into the system.
∙ Dual Climate Control
∙ Dual Sunroofs
∙ Forward Collision Mitigation with pedestrian warning
∙ Good cargo capacity
∙ Heads-up Display
∙ Heated Seats and Steering Wheel
∙ Hill Start Assist
∙ Lane Departure Warning
∙ Leather Seats were some of the most comfortable we’ve had. We never once complained of a sore back after logging 5,000 kms and two weeks in the car.
∙ Rear Cross Traffic Alert
∙ Regular unleaded gasoline as low as $1.81 USD per gallon, or $2.40 CAD, or the equivalent of just $0.63 per litre.
∙ Sirius XM radio
∙ Tire Pressure Monitoring System
∙ Winter floor mats that are some of the best we’ve seen.
What We Aren’t So Crazy About:
∙ Bluetooth phone audio only comes out of the front right speaker.
∙ No stop/start, which we assume will be added on future models.
∙ Manual rear lift gate. Many of its competitors in this class have power lift gates, which was noticeably absent on our vehicle.
Return Drive to Toronto - First Stop, Jekyll Island
The first destination on our drive back to Toronto, was the Westin Jekyll Island hotel, a resort perched off of Georgia’s mainland across several bridges and a causeway out in the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel is set on a unique and impressive stretch of beach and sand dunes. We had a nice walk on the beach, a delicious dinner at the hotel, and then (Dr.) Jekyll Island turned into Mr. Hyde. At midnight, I experienced the most excruciating abdominal pain that I had ever experienced in my life.
First Trip to The Hospital
I told my wife that I really needed to get to a hospital. We were going to have to make our way back to the mainland and find a hospital emergency room, which was about thirty minutes away. My wife had not driven the Eclipse Cross but thankfully, it is a very easy car to become familiar with. My wife immediately felt at home behind the wheel and navigated us across the foggy causeway and bridges to the closest ER, with me moaning and groaning in the passenger seat. A night in the hospital, a CT scan and several x-rays later, the medical team felt that I had the beginnings of a possible intestinal blockage. Not something you want to hear when you have an 1,800 kilometre drive ahead of you. So the next day we packed up and continued our drive up to the great white north.
We spent our last night on our road trip home at one of the city’s most historic hotels, the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel. With its riverfront location in the heart of the downtown’s cultural district, it is a great place to stay to explore the city, except for me who couldn’t be more than a few steps away from our hotel room facilities, if you know what I mean. Not to go into too much detail, but I spent most of that night in our bathroom, praying to the porcelain altar. Thankfully our bathroom had a beautiful view of the PNC Park, home to the National League Pittsburgh Pirates and Heinz Field and the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers booth directly across the river from our hotel.
Homeward and Hospital Bound
From Pittsburgh we embarked on the final leg of our journey. The five-hundred kilometre drive was scheduled to take about six hours. Thankfully, it was sunny, above freezing and the Pennsylvania Interstates were relatively quiet on this particular Saturday morning. I was in no condition to drive, so my wife got behind the wheel and off we went. As I sat slumped over in the passenger seat, I suggested to my wife that she could try the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). I explained how it worked and told her that it is a very useful long-distance driving tool. Interestingly, her 2018 British SUV, which cost about $15,000 more than this Eclipse Cross GT, does not have ACC (or Apple Car Play and Android Auto for that matter). A testament to how well-equipped this Mitsubishi is. My wife set the ACC and in no time at all was singing its praises.
Final Destination - Humber River Hospital
We ended our journey in the ER at the Humber River Hospital, which is conveniently located at Highway 401 and Keele Street. They hooked me up to two IVs (I hadn’t eaten or had much to drink in five days and was very dehydrated) and ran a tube down my nose and into my stomach to start pumping out everything that had been sitting in there for the past five days. I was in pretty bad shape. The following day I had laparoscopic surgery to unblock my lower intestine. It turned out that my appendix had developed a thin fibre strand that was cutting off the circulation in my intestine. Once Dr. Whiteacre and her team removed my appendix, my intestine opened up again and started doing what it was supposed to do. The doctors, nurses and staff at the Humber River Hospital are the best! Every single one of them, without exception. And the hospital facility is truly state-of-the-art. It is North America’s first fully digital hospital, took fifteen years of planning, and the result is exceptional patient care.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross was a perfect driving companion for our 5,000 kilometre road trip. My wife and I both enjoyed driving it and utilizing all of its driving assists and technology. If you are looking for a seven passenger SUV, you should look at the Mitsubishi Outlander, which is much bigger at 184.8 inches (4,695 mm) in length. If a smaller SUV might fit your needs, than the Mitsubishi RVR, at 171.8 inches (4,365 mm) in length, is worth checking out. But for us, the Eclipse Cross, at 173.4 inches (4,405 mm) in length, would be our SUV of choice.
And it seems more and more Canadians are making Mitsubishi their choice too. Mitsubishi had their best year ever in Canada in 2018 with 25,237 vehicles sold. That was up eleven percent over their record sales in 2017. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was Canada’s best-selling plug-in hybrid SUV with 5,270 units sold. For its first year in production, Mitsubishi sold 3,596 Eclipse Crosses.
We will always have a soft spot in our heart for the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. It got my wife and I from Toronto, to Florida and back to the hospital, safe and sound and in comfort and style.
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Michael Taylor is a freelance automotive and motorsports journalist and the co-founder and co-president of TrackWorthy.com