Mitsubishi burned a lot of what little street cred it had left by taking the name of a once-beloved affordable sports coupe and plunking it onto yet another crossover.
The good news, if there is any, is that the crossover that now bears the nameplate is more than a little quirky.
The bad news – it’s not an affordable, fun-to-drive sports coupe.
Not to mention that the brand may soon be history, at least on these shores.
The least weird thing about the Eclipse Cross is that the driving experience is mostly unremarkable, especially in urban environs. It’s neither fast nor slow, but the 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder has enough guts for undramatic commuting. The steering feels relatively connected to the road, with appropriate weighting, and the ride is about par for a vehicle in this class. The continuously-variable automatic, which has “steps” meant to mimic a conventional automatic, is relatively inoffensive, as CVTs go.
[Get a price quote for the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross here!]
If it were safe to close your eyes while driving, you might think you were wheeling any old crossover. The driving experience is mostly normal, although the mode selector for all-wheel drive is a rarity.
It’s the rest that’s weird.
Let’s start with the styling. While not all that weird up front, it quickly gets quirky. The front view is pretty standard for a crossover – boxy and angular hood area with large fog lamp openings and a big lower fascia below the grille. Not quite attractive, but not ugly, either.
From the side, the view looks sloped and stanced, an appropriate attempt by the brand to give some sport to a crossover bearing a hallowed nameplate. Out back, though, it goes off the rails.
The rear haunches are unnecessarily bulbous, even accounting for the fact that the wheels are placed near the edges. The light bar bisects the rear glass, the taillights spike out, and a curving spoiler awkwardly frames it all.
Inside, the story isn’t much better. Fonts used in the gauge cluster and infotainment system are outdated, and the infotainment screen looks like a TomTom that got stuck to the dash. A Lexus-like touchpad sits aft and starboard of the gear shift, and there’s a reason only Lexus and Mitsu use these things. The buttons are laid out logically enough, but look weird – as if the design team thought they’d need to try extra hard to overcome Mitsubishi’s bad reputation of late. Material quality and build quality was better than what I’ve encountered on every Outlander I’ve ever driven, although the bar here is set low.
The entire experience just screams out that you either don’t know/care about cars and took the best deal you could find, or you have just enough money for a crossover in this class but not enough to drop a few grand more on something better.
Of course, Mitsubishi would argue that the Eclipse Cross offers value for the money, and the features list does bolster the brand’s case, even if Mitsubishi lists some features that are so mundane they’d might not make the sticker on other vehicles.
Standard items on my SEL test unit included fog lamps, LED lighting front and rear, paddle shifters, chrome grille accents, 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, leather seats, tilt/telescope steering wheel, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, Bluetooth, multiple USB ports, multiple-view camera, a head-up display, keyless entry and starting, dual-zone climate control, blind-spot warning with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, and lane-departure warning.
Options included a package that added a sunroof, premium audio, forward-collision mitigation with high-speed braking capability with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink, and roof rails. A tonneau cover and carpeted floor mats rounded out the list.
So yeah, the features list is class-competitive. And the $32K sticker price isn’t terrible. There’s value here, perhaps. The Eclipse Cross at least has that going for it, which is nice.
Quirky, odd design is one thing – some people prefer that. And while the materials don’t feel class-competitive, necessarily, they’re still an improvement over what’s offered in other models in the lineup.
Yet, the Eclipse Cross just doesn’t quite feel good enough to justify a purchase to save dollars, unless one has no choice.
Mitsubishi had the chance to make something interesting here and got part of the way there. That’s no way to honor the Eclipse name.
But it is consistent with the band’s recent M.O.
There may be a time when Mitsubishi once again builds interesting cars at a value price. If that time doesn’t come soon, the brand won’t be in this market much longer.