Mitsubishi Then And Now
First things first: Mitsubishi today deserves a better space in the automobile landscape. This Japanese brand built its first automotive in 1917 and also the first four-wheel-drive car in Japan. Mitsubishi is part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, once the biggest company in Japan. This name has also a history of success in motorsports. In 2016. Mitsubishi joined the Renault-Nissan Alliance and owned 34 percent by Nissan.
The Eclipse Cross is now the brand’s newest model. It may also be the last model independently developed before the era of the Alliance.
In the last decade or so, Mitsubishi entirely focused on SUV’s and CUV’s. For example, The legendary Lancer, once a star of the rally world is now quite outdated and still on sales in North America after several make-ups but without any intention for a new model. A strategy which is understandable considering the tight resources the company has.
To experience this compact SUV in the range-topping GT version, we took a long, daily drive from Toronto to Windsor.
A new front fascia called “Dynamic Shield” became the new face of the current generation. Also, the Eclipse Cross has it. With its progressive, forward-leaning design and split, visibility reducing rear window, it sacrifices some functionality for the sake of the design.
Engine and Powertrain
To stay “lean” in its portfolio, Mitsubishi offers one single-engine option for each version of the Eclipse: a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, delivering 152 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque between 2,000 to 3,500 rpm. It is paired with a continuously variable transmission and Mitsubishi’s four-wheel-drive system. In this class, many of its competitors offer stronger engines but in a country with not more than 119 km/h and not a lot of hilly roads, it is enough for your daily commute and driving the “E-Cross” provides some pleasure too. I am not a fan of CVT’s either and would prefer a more traditional automatic. Nevertheless, the CVT works well.
The interior is significantly better in material and workmanship than what we see in older models like the Lancer.
In terms of functionality and user-friendliness, there is room for improvement. The on-off button and the volume control are on the far side of the infotainment screen and harder to reach. This was probably because the original design was for the Japanese version with the right-side steering.
The volume control is also a pair of pushbuttons instead of a dial.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard features, which is a big plus. 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 front-row seats are much higher and more upright here than in most compact SUVs. This is not my favorite seating position. however, I did not feel uncomfortable with that.
I found the suspension more comfort-oriented and compliant than a typical SUV. It leans smoothly on curves and reasonably absorbs the small potholes and vertical bumps. At highway speeds up until 119 km/h, the interior noise is acceptable and conversation with your front passenger is very easy.
Even in the GT version there’s no full panoramic sunroof available, but instead there’s a pair of smaller ones. Still, this is good enough to let in much sunlight.
The keyless entry was a bit surprising since it doesn’t work on the rear doors, and also the liftgate is “excluded”. The lack of a power liftgate is one of the “small” reasons for a competitive price. On the other hand, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel promise a vehicle good to go for the winter.
Fuel consumption is also worth noting: With an average of 10.7 liters, mainly on highway driving, it delivers fuel economy which is competitive in its class.
The Eclipse Cross GT has a MSRP of $37,873 as tested, including freight and PDI. This is a competitive price for a Japanese vehicle that offers the longest warranty in the industry.
A modern, non-conventional design that stands out in this crowded segment, a relatively affordable price and a warranty (10 years and 160 kilometers) that largely eliminates the worries about long-term ownership are valid reasons to choose the Eclipse Cross instead of an Escape, RAV or CR-V despite some drawbacks.
Over the coming years, we can expect Mitsubishi to generate synergies from its alliance with Renault-Nissan (assuming that the alliance itself will move forward in a Post-Ghosn era with success) and become a stronger player in the cut-throat competition of the automotive business.
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Article and Photos by Varol McKars