The entry-level 2WD LS grade is equipped more like a mid-spec version than a base model and is priced accordingly, starting from $30,500 plus on-road costs. The long-list of standard equipment includes smart-key entry and push-button start, reversing camera, dusk-sensing lights, automatic rain-sensing wipers, seven-inch touch-screen, digital radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. Satellite navigation, however, relies on your mobile phone data, and the Eclipse Cross’s touchpad, which allows more intuitive connection with the infotainment system, does not work with Android Auto.
It is pleasing to see the added safety of a driver’s knee bag, autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure warning across the range, with all Eclipse Cross versions getting a five-star ANCAP rating.
The Exceed 2WD model is a substantial $5500 step up, but for that money ($36,000) you get a double panoramic sunroof, leather-trimmed and heated front seats, powered driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, 360-degree camera and a useful head-up display. An excellent suite of advanced safety features includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, lane-change assist and cross-traffic alert. There is also the innovative ‘Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System’ which is designed to prevent/minimise unintended acceleration into stationary objects.
For buyers wanting extra traction for gravel roads or slippery conditions such as snow, the Exceed AWD version, which employs the latest version of Mitsubishi’s well-proven ‘Super All-Wheel Control’ (S-AWC), is another $2500.
The Eclipse Cross has a well-thought-out interior that uses the available cabin space in an efficient, very practical manner. There is the commanding SUV forward view for the driver, while redesigned front seats provide plenty of side bolstering and comfortable support.
All-new dash architecture creates an open feel, while well-positioned instrumentation and switches add to the driving ease. A split-folding rear seat that not only reclines but also slides 200 millimetres fore and aft provides the versatility of extra leg room or greater load-carrying capacity. The styling-focused, split tailgate rear window is noticeable when looking out the back, but the view is not as restricted as some similar set-ups.
Mitsubishi has given the Eclipse Cross a new, sophisticated, all-aluminium, 1.5-litre petrol engine. Its maximum power output of 110kW at 5000rpm is around average for this type of vehicle but this four-cylinder engine’s real appeal is a broad spread of strong torque delivered by turbo-charging.
Peak torque of 250Nm arrives at 2000rpm and is maintained through to 3500rpm, bringing an enjoyably punchy feel to the operating range normally used for everyday driving. It’s well supported by Mitsubishi’s new-generation CVT transmission. With a simulated eight-step gear-shift built in, plus Sport mode, manual override and paddle shifters, it drives and feels more like a conventional automatic than the older-style CVTs.
Smooth and responsive
On the road, the Eclipse Cross proved to be far more responsive, much smoother and quieter than the ageing ASX automatic we recently tested. Fuel economy is competitive, with official consumption for the 2WD versions of 7.3L/100km, while the AWD version returns 7.7L/100km. Over a combination of city, country and dirt-road driving, our AWD Eclipse Cross used a creditable 9.1L/100km. The fact that the 1.5-litre turbo engine runs on 91-grade petrol, whereas the majority of turbo-charged engines require more expensive premium fuel, is also a cost saving.
MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link rear set-up deliver a comfortably compliant ride and surefooted handling. Electric power-assisted steering provides a relatively light, accurate feel that is well suited for around town. The general quietness of the cabin tends to accentuate some tyre noise with changing road surfaces.
There is no doubt the Eclipse Cross is Mitsubishi’s best small/medium SUV offering. In terms of cabin practicality, driving ease and general on-road ability, it looks set to challenge the well-established models in its class.