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Quick First Drive: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

William Maley

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As we got off the on-ramp to I-94, my driving partner realized something.

“We’re going the wrong direction.”

Instead of going westbound, we were traveling eastbound. We had misread the directions only a few hundred yards from the starting point. Once realizing this, I drove towards the next exit to turn around. A few extra miles wouldn’t hurt either in the vehicle that I was piloting.

Mitsubishi had invited a small number of Detroit-based automotive writers to drive the new Eclipse Cross and Outlander PHEV. Which is how I found myself behind the wheel of the Eclipse Cross to begin the drive. This is Mitsubishi’s contender in the hotly contested compact crossover marketplace. The company is hoping the combination of a distinctive design, turbocharged engine, and other features will bring in people into the showroom. My first impression shows some good signs, but there are some quirks that may put off some people.

I should note this isn’t going to be a full-blown first drive. I only had about 15 to 20 miles of driving under my belt, while the rest saw me sitting in the passenger seat, proving directions to my partner and exploring various bits of the vehicle. Think of this as the appetizer to hopefully a full review sometime in the future.

  • Mitsubishi’s design team went slightly overboard with the Eclipse Cross’ exterior. Busy would be an understatement considering the various details on display with sharp angles, a fair amount of chrome for the front, and a split-window tailgate. The color really plays a key role in emphasizing the various details. My particular vehicle was finished in white, which helped tone down some of the design.
  • I will give Mitsubishi credit for designing something that stands out from what is becoming a very crowded field.
  • A slight disappointment is the lack of the design flair for the interior. It looks somewhat stale and plain. But Mitsubishi has made an effort to fix some of the weaknesses I highlighted in my Outlander Sport review. Material quality is noticeably better with Mitsubishi using more solid feeling plastics throughout. There are some spots where some soft-touch plastics are used such on the door panels. Build quality is improved with solid thunk when the doors close and tight gaps.
  • One item I sadly did not get the chance to try fully is the 7-inch infotainment system. The base model has the screen integrated into the dash, while LE models and above have the screen sitting above the dash. LE and above also get a touchpad controller to move around the system. I have concerns about the touchpad considering how many problems I have with something similar used in Lexus models. But those who have tried the touchpad say it works very well with quick responses.
  • Power comes from a turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder punching out 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet. This is connected to a CVT and routes power to either the front-wheels (only available on the ES) or Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control.
  • The engine feels quite adequate as it provides decent oomph when leaving a stop or needing to getting up to speed with traffic. One item I did find odd was the slight delay of the powertrain responding after suddenly stepping on the accelerator hard. Not sure if this is an engine programming issue or something to do with the CVT.
  • The suspension does a surprising job of ironing out most bumps and imperfections. There is a tradeoff as the Eclipse Cross has some significant body roll when cornering. 

Disclaimer: Mitsubishi provided breakfast, a quick snack, and the Eclipse Cross for this first drive event.

Year: 2018
Make: Mitsubishi
Model: Eclipse Cross
Engine: Turbocharged 1.5L MIVEC Direct-Injected Inline-Four
Driveline: Front or All-Wheel Drive, CVT
Horsepower @ RPM: 152 @ 6,000
Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 3,500
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/29/27 (ES FWD), 25/26/28 (ES S-AWC), 25/26/25 (LE, SE, and SEL S-AWC)
Curb Weight: 3,307 - 3,516 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan
Base Price: $23,295 - $30,395 (Doesn't include a $995 destination charge)

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i could throw a pontiac grille on this and we can call it the G7x, next ever Aztek!

I am more sympathetic to Mits than others, because they sell for good prices and have solid warranty.  we have relatives who have had a few Mitsubishis and they just want a car and don't want to pay lots more.  For those folks it works.  So overall I like this vehicle but it still has some things to fix.  Long parking brake lever. and why if this is a new model didn't they add wheelbase?  Also they need an optional engine with grunt.

CVTs are here to stay particularly in Japanese vehicles.

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